What is a small farmer without his fields? Certainly not a working farmer. And what is a rural area without working farmers? It depends on food from outside sources -- in the worst case, even on continued food aid. The floods in summer 2010 destroyed not only 70 per cent of the rice harvest in the Swat Valley, but also many terraced fields, water mills and irrigation canals. Vast areas of agricultural land had been covered by mud and were unfit for cultivation for a long time.
To change this scenario, Malteser International has taken first measures to rehabilitate agriculture at the community level in the Swat Valley. Together with the local communities, the most urgent needs are being assessed to improve the local infrastructure and lay the basis so that farming activities can resume. In a first step, terraces and irrigation canals, access paths and bridges over mountain streams will be reconstructed with the active participation of the local communities, mainly through “cash for work” activities. In a second step, the most affected farmers, who also lost their tools and seeds in the floods, will receive the necessary tools and seeds to make a harvest in summer 2011 possible.
It was the worst flooding since recordkeeping in today’s Pakistan began: In July and August 2010, massive monsoon rainfall made the rivers in Pakistan swell rapidly. In the north of the country, flash floods of the mountain rivers washed away everything that was built or stored too close to the river beds: bridges and roads, houses and belongings. Mud- and landslides blocked roads and the communication infrastructure was destroyed in many locations.
In the south of Pakistan, the run-off from rainfall in the mountainous north led to a wave along the Indus River which flooded vast parts of the lowland for several months, displacing hundreds of thousands people from their homesteads. Everywhere in the affected areas, people lost their income as fields were covered with mud, most of the harvest was destroyed and livestock perished. More than 20 million people were affected by the floods; 1,750 people died. The overall damage can only roughly be estimated and is unimaginably high. The reconstruction efforts will take several years – as will Malteser International’s commitment for relief activities.
Our overall aim is to “build back better”: to assist the communities in improving their living conditions to an even higher level than that prior to the flood, while, at the same time, raising their resilience towards future incidents – whether they are natural or man-made disasters.
Malteser International has been working in Pakistan since the earthquake of October 2005. Its main areas of intervention have been and will remain in the sectors of health and disaster preparedness. With their long-term presence in the country, Malteser International’s teams will also be able to react quickly after new emergency situations.
|Duration:||January 2011-May 2011|
|Financing:||Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Germany), Malteser International|
|Malteser International:||Christof Ruhmich|
Dr. Shumaila Akhbar, medical doctor in the Swat Distrikt with a focus on maternal and child health.