Oxfam’s Jane Beesley is in Pakistan, where the devastating floods have now affected 21 million people. Here’s an excerpt from her latest report from the field.
Today I met Raiza, a petite young woman of 22, who’s living in a camp for displaced people at Government High School in Shirkapur district in Sindh province. In conjunction with our local partner group Participatory Development Initiative, Oxfam is providing the 360 families living at the school with cash vouchers for 5,000 rupees (about $58). These vouchers help ensure that people can buy what they need to get by in the camps for at least the next two to three weeks.
“Before the flood I was farming and keeping livestock, and my husband cut people’s hair. Any money I made I gave to my husband and he decided what to spend it on. We didn’t own the land we were living on…we were tenant farmers,” Raiza told me.
“When the flood came we were just sitting in our home. We didn’t know the flood was coming…we just heard the water…we just had to leave our village. The water came very fast. We could only save our children, ourselves and some clothes…we didn’t even have time to save some crockery and other things. We lost everything … our home, livestock.
“With the money I receive today I will buy a few things for Eid, some new clothes and food. But my little child is not taking any milk from me so I will have to buy some milk for him. I’m worried about my children…at the moment they are not sick but they are very weak because they don’t have enough food to eat.
“I would like to return to my village but we don’t have the money to travel, and the water is still there…we can’t go back there…but I want to return when the water has gone. I want to rebuild our home because it was destroyed, and restart our livelihood.”
The schools are crammed with people like Raiza and her family. Not built for so many, or for living in, the conditions are bad. … There’s a lack of food, and widespread sickness—mainly diarrhea. We hear that most of the money from Oxfam’s distribution is being spent on food, medicine, medical fees and repaying debts incurred in getting here—a place of safety from the floods. …
Resources are thin on the ground, and yet we know we can respond to this. We can change people’s living conditions; we can help people stay healthy; we can support people’s eventual return home. But we desperately need the resources to do so.