Founding Editor: Shafqat Munir   

IOM, Pakistan Navy Deliver Shelter Kits to Stranded Badin Villagers as Aid Stocks Dwindle 

24 September 2011 08:56:02

IOM, Pakistan Navy Deliver Shelter Kits to Stranded Badin Villagers as Aid Stocks Dwindle


An IOM team is today working with the Pakistan navy to deliver 1,000 shelter and non-food item relief kits to families stranded in villages in the western Tando Bago area of Sindh’s flood-stricken Badin district.


The kits, each containing two plastic tarpaulins, two blankets, a kitchen set and a bucket will be the first international assistance to reach the villages near Judho, many of which have been cut off by flood waters since mid-August.


“About 30kms east of Tando Bago town the road gets narrower and then disappears into a vast sea of water. The marines are ferrying people to and from villages that have been cut off, but no emergency shelter aid has reached them up to now,” says IOM Operations Officer Sher Sultan.


The operation, which follows IOM distributions of some 2,500 tents and shelter kits in Badin over the past month, will only meet a fraction of local shelter needs, according to overwhelmed local government officials. They believe that up to 1.7 million of the district’s 1.8 million residents have been affected by the floods – the vast majority of them poor tenant farmers and their families.


In a government flood relief centre set up in a vocational training college in Badin, 27-year-old tenant farmer Fida Hussain says that in his village in Nindo Shaher Union Council, 35 kms from Badin, all 200 houses are submerged in up to six feet of water together with 600 acres land.


The cotton, rice, sugar cane, chilli and tomato crops have all been destroyed by the floods and he expects to have to stay in the centre with 113 other families for two to three months before they can safely return home.


At a second government relief centre at another technical training college in Badin, 50-year-old small landowner Muhammad Ghulam hopes that the 222 families from his community sheltering in the centre will be able to start returning home “in a month or so”.


Their adjacent villages in Gharo and Golarchi Union Councils, also 35km from Badin, are now submerged in up to five feet of flood water and most of the metal frame and wooden houses that replaced traditional mud huts have collapsed or “sank in the mud,” together with the school and the mosque, he says.


Their rice, cotton and tomato crop was lost, but 80 per cent of their cows, water buffalos and sheep survived. Some of the men took the livestock to dry ground to the east in Tharparkar district and when the water subsides, they will return to the village, he adds.


With nearly 90 per cent of Badin partially submerged by floodwaters, displaced families sheltering in government relief centres represent less of a humanitarian challenge to the authorities and aid agencies than the thousands living in spontaneous settlements set up on roads or higher, dry ground close to their often inaccessible villages.


“Many families prefer to stay close to home rather than move into relief centres or camps, even if they could reach them because they don’t want to mix with other communities. We have to respect people’s beliefs but it makes getting aid to them much more difficult in terms of logistics,” says IOM Hyderabad Head of Office Arshad Rashid.


According to Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), over 8 million people have now been affected by the flooding in all 23 districts in Sindh. Nearly 1.5 million houses have been damaged or destroyed and over 716,000 individuals are now living in 3,079 relief camps. The same number of displaced people may be living in unrecorded, spontaneous settlements, according to an IOM-led independent rapid needs assessment.


Based on available data and the assessment of 2,547 temporary settlements completed nearly two weeks ago by IOM and partner agencies in the IASC Emergency Shelter Custer, IOM is now appealing to international donors for US$14.6 million to procure and distribute emergency shelter and non-food relief items to another 553,000 vulnerable people over the next three months.


“The money will go towards providing shelter and non-food relief items for the most vulnerable flood victims, meeting the needs of displaced people in temporary settlements and relief camps, tracking displacement, building local capacity and coordinating the work of the Emergency Shelter Cluster,” says IOM Pakistan Chief of Mission Hassan Abdel Moneim Mostafa.