A displaced family sets up a makeshift 'home' in flood-affected southern Pakistan
By David Youngmeyer
BADIN DISTRICT, SINDH, Pakistan, 22 September 2011 – Lado Shero holds her 3-year-old granddaughter Shama tenderly to her body as she sits on the ground in a makeshift roadside shelter in the severely flood-affected Badin District, in southern Sindh Province.
Shama has contracted diarrhoea and has been vomiting, said Lado, looking worriedly at her young granddaughter. A relief agency provided medicine for the diarrhoea, which is helping, but her family’s situation along with thousands of others remains dire.
A temporary ‘home’Lado explained that when the monsoon rains came last month, a huge amount of water fell in just a short time. Her family home was inundated by the floods and destroyed.
Grabbing her family, Lado trudged through flood waters one-and-a-half kilometres to the nearest higher ground.
With no source of clean water in the vicinity, the family has been forced to drink contaminated water, which likely contributed to Shama’s diarrhoea.
The family has set up a temporary ‘home’ of sorts, on the side of a raised road, in which infested flood waters extend seemingly into infinity on either side. Fashioning tent poles out of tree branches and covering the frame with a tarpaulin and an assortment of bright-coloured scarves and bits of cloth, they sit solemnly on the damp mud, partially covered with a few tatty sacks, that has become their floor. A goat tethered inside their tent and a future meal – a small bowl of fish covered in flies – lies on the ground next to them, amid the rubbish and animal waste.
Additional fears“My granddaughter Kjul, who is six, was attending school before the monsoon rains,” said Lado sadly. “But now with the school flooded, she can’t go to school anymore.”
Lado confides that the children are very afraid of the fast cars, trucks and motorcycles which zoom up and down the two-lane road at all hours. Their tent is less than a metre from the road. A vehicle could crash into their tent at any time or the children could get run over while playing or just crossing the road.
“They are also concerned about being bitten by snakes and mosquitoes,” explained Lado, both of which are more of a risk with the flooding. The snakes, for example, seek higher ground, which is where hundreds of thousands of displaced people are also congregating.
UNICEF providesFollowing the Pakistani Government’s recent invite to the UN to provide humanitarian assistance, UNICEF has provided a local drinking water supply for children and their families at the camp. A 1,500 litre water bladder has been set up just down the road, which is filled by water tanker twice daily. The clean water supply will make a positive difference in the health of children at the camp.