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A family's story: early flood warning saves lives in Pakistan

© UNICEF/2010/McBride
Samia and her son Saddam, 2, were residents of Pakistan's Hoji Budho Bharchood village before they fled floodwaters that devastated their home.

By Tania McBride

SUKKUR, Pakistan, 1 October 2010 – Samia sat under the shade tarp on a string bed with her son, Saddam, 2. The child writhed and wriggled in her arms.

Though sweat poured down her face, flies assaulted from every angle and the young mother lamented the life that she had lost in the floods, she said she was nonetheless thankful that she and Saddam are safe.

Lives spared

Samia was one of the lucky ones.

Unlike many in Pakistan’s flood-devastated districts, she received prior warning of raging waters from her uncle Nizam, the project coordinator for the Indian non-governmental organization HANDS. Samia her husband, uncle, aunts and cousins were able to pack up their furniture and belongings and leave their village of Hoji Budho Bharchood a full two days before the floodwaters ravaged their homes, scattered their possessions and ruined their crops.

The last-minute warning from Uncle Nizam was also able to save the family’s cattle, upon which they rely for farming, milking and making a living. Many of those who have fled the floods were not so lucky, losing not only their homes and possessions but their livestock and their livelihoods.
Fear of more floods

Samia shifted uncomfortably in the heat of the transit camp where she now lives. While she was grateful that her uncle had been able to use his contacts to provide the family with shelter and food, she said, she worried that the floods would return and they would not ever be able to go back to their village.

Samia’s brother had not joined Samia in the transit camp, preferring instead to go elsewhere in search of pastures and fields where the family’s cattle could graze. He plans to return to Hoji Budho Bharchood village as soon as the waters recede to tend to the land and see what he can salvage of the house and crops.

Samia sighed at the thought that her time in the transit camp could go on as long as six months.

“There is little shelter here, and no shade,” she said. “We want to return so that we can rebuild our homes and rebuild our lives.”



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