Pakistan Article

Helping peripheral communities in Pakistan resist seasonal flooding

The village of Sohrab Lashari sits on the tail end of the river Indus in Sindh province, Pakistan. Given the enormous demand on water further upstream, the village experiences severe drought conditions, especially as temperatures spiral to almost 50 degrees Celsius in summer.

This water scarcity creates problems both for residents and for businesses, affecting drinking water and irrigation. In top of these challenges, the area experiences regular and devastating flooding during the monsoon season.

Sitting in a remote area of the province, the government struggles to reach the community with the support required to mitigate against the flooding. ACTED has been active in Sohrab Lashari since 2015, assisting flood-hit families whose houses, water supply and livelihoods are at risk.

In Sohrab Lashari, villagers rehabilitate a road to ensure access
Pakistan's Human Development Index rank is the lowest in South Asia (150th)
Pakistan is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change, with low technical and financial capacity to adapt to its adverse impacts
Almost 7% of Pakistan's population live below the poverty line

The challenges facing communities in this area of Sindh province are grave. Despite the recurring nature of disasters ravaging the region, ACTED initial assessments showed that little practical action was being taken to protect residents. There was little knowledge of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) approaches and three years after major floods of 2015, many households were still struggling to recover.

The community faced high levels of malnutrition, poor water access, inadequate sanitation, and water-damaged housing, with the flood water wreaking havoc upon the areas agriculture-based economy. Families were forced into short-term negative coping strategies, selling off assets and missing meals to sustain themselves from one month to the next, dragging families into a cycle of poverty.

Community members attend a training on Disaster Risk Reduction so that they can adapt their village development and livelihoods to respond to local conditions

Reviving the local economy and encouraging self-reliance

ACTED’s essential role was to build the community’s resilience through strengthening the local economy. ACTED provided agricultural inputs and began paying local labour to improve irrigation infrastructure. Their work also involved  building shelters which could stand up to flash flooding and rehabilitating water points to prevent contamination in the monsoon season.

 

Male community members clean an irrigation canal to improve water flow

Over 100 men and women took part in short term employment opportunities working on schemes which targeted both household and community level needs. Men rehabilitated roads and cleaned out irrigation channels to accelerate discharge of water during heavy rains. Female villages also built raised platforms to improve the hygiene standards of their family kitchens and crafted communal storage bins using local materials.

Mr. Khanio, 47, works as a daily labourer in the village of Peer Fayyaz Shah, not far from Sohrab Lashari. The shelter which he built for his family was rendered uninhabitable by flash floods and he was unable to carry out the necessary repair work due to financial constraints. ACTED provided Khanio with the tools, materials and the necessary funding to allow him to pay for the skilled labour to construct a new shelter.

A male community stands outside of his rebuilt house

I am very thankful that ACTED gave me the chance to build a shelter. My wife Sanoli is very much happy to be in a safe shelter after a long time.

Khanio - Peer Fayyaz Shah village

Mobilising the community to improve sanitation and hygiene standards

A local worker builds the walls of a household latrine

With community elders and activists on board, ACTED arranged gatherings for community members and began a campaign which allowed villagers to self-identify and analyse how their own behaviours and practices were affecting community health, while also giving lessons on best practices. ACTED’s hygiene promoter’s emphasised personal, domestic and environmental best practices to create a holistic hygiene response.

Once these trainings and triggering sessions were completed, community members began constructing sealed pit latrines for each household (295 in total) to put an end to the harmful open-defecation practices which were common prior to the project. Sohrab Lashari is now officially open-defecation free thanks to their efforts. Villagers also established raised platforms for water pitcher stands to provide safe, uncontaminated drinking water.

Zeenat attended one of ACTED’s hygiene sessions and subsequently saved up enough money to pay for raised water storage containers to provide her family of seven with safe drinking water.

Female members of the community were also paid to make storage bins to improve the local environment

It’s all ACTED’s team efforts, they taught us the importance of safe sanitation and safe hygiene practices. They made us aware that safe hygiene practices can save our money that we used to spend going to hospital after falling ill due to open defecation and water borne diseases. We all are very happy and feel proud to see our clean house and surrounding environment.

Zeenat - Sohrab Lashari village

This material has been funded by UK aid from the UK government; however the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official policies.

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