Flood Relief in Pakistan: One NGO Rises Up to the Challenge, Can We?

Posted on 24 August 2010 by

The scale of displacement we are seeing in Pakistan today is the worst in the history of our nation. -WLP colleague at the Aurat Foundation

20 million people have been displaced by the floods that have hit the country in recent weeks. That’s over 10% of the nation’s population. The extent of the disaster is incomprehensible to most of us. The needs are staggering.

The floods have not yet abated. Inlets continue to overflow destroying homes, farms, and villages. People are finding shelter where they can. On the roadsides. In open fields. They have lost everything. They lack food, medicines, and the most basic of supplies to meet their daily needs. Women and children are among the most vulnerable.

Life is Not a Bed of Roses (cc) NotMicroButSoft

Life is Not a Bed of Roses (cc) NotMicroButSoft

Vast areas of agricultural lands are underwater, and the former residents of these lands are saying that it will be several years before the ground will be ready to yield crops again. Women are again the most affected as 80% of women living in rural areas are engaged in farming.

When I spoke with our colleagues on Friday, we reflected on the difficult years that Pakistan has faced recently–the earthquake in 2008 from which people are still recovering; a spate of violence and terrorism during 2008-2009 which continues today; and now these massive floods leading to the displacement of millions. When will they get a break?

Our colleagues at Aurat Foundation have risen to face these challenges. They have a vast network of volunteers at the grassroots. Their staff continues to work night and day to meet the new challenges before them. There are times when the full staff cannot be at work because of travel restrictions and ongoing violence. A task that should take one hour to complete, takes several hours. Yet they persevere, focusing on ways to meet the needs of their constituents across the country.

Over the weekend, several staff members were in Lahore, spending time with flood survivors, listening to their stories, sharing in their grief, and documenting their needs.

Meeting the urgent needs of the flood survivors is Aurat Foundation’s priority. This week they launch the Motherland Flood Relief Campaign to raise funds needed to secure essential goods that will be distributed directly to the survivors by hundreds of Aurat volunteers. They fill an essential gap in the relief and rehabilitation efforts of the government, UN, and international agencies by focusing on the specific needs of women and girls. Not only are they seeing to the distribution of relief and aid (see WLP’s appeal for more information) but also taking the lead in organizing a meeting of the major organizations working on gender issues to coordinate relief efforts with donor agencies and the Ministry of Development.

While they are doing all they can, the world has paid little attention. Pakistani flood survivors have received the least amount of aid, when compared to other recent natural disasters. The numbers are paltry and far outweigh the needs. (See Pakistan flood aid inadequate, UN warns and Why Western donors are snubbing Pakistan after giving to Haiti.) I don’t know the reason. What I do know, is that when one of us is affected, we are all affected. So, let’s help our neighbors–the flood survivors of Pakistan.

Let’s give. Generously.

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