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Rebuilding from the ground up in the aftermath of Cyclone Yemyin

UNICEF Image: Pakistan, Balochistan, Cyclone, Flood
© UNICEF Pakistan/2007/Pasha
Surrounded by her grandchildren, Ms. Satoo tells visitors about the day the banks of Nari River overflowed, destroying the villager's crops and homes.

By Katey Grusovin

BALOCHISTAN, Pakistan, 23 July, 2007 – When Cyclone Yemyin tore into Northern Balochistan one month ago, it took only a short period of time before the village of Kuch Valari was completely submerged under raging torrents of muddy waters.

 “I was telling all the people, ‘Save yourselves, run!’,” recounted Ms. Satoo, a grandmother. “There was no sense of saving belongings because the water was up to neck level. We grabbed our children and just fled.”

The powerful waters destroyed the Nari River dam, flooding two villages and shattering the lives of many farmers and their families. Balochistan and Sindh are two of the worst affected provinces in southern Pakistan. An estimated 2.5 million people have been affected there, with some 377,000 displaced.

“We spent ten days and nights in a vacant hotel. The landlord was kind enough to feed us.” said Ms. Satoo. “We lost everything. Everything. The children have nothing to do except play in the mud. They have no clothing and their school books are all gone.

Returning home

Although waters continue to tumble down from the mountains, much of Kuch Valari’s population has returned home to begin piecing their lives back together. Many of the villagers’ mud dwellings and grain stores have been swept away while other homes are structurally unstable and will need to be rebuilt. The fields, which had promised a healthy harvest this year, were totally destroyed.

UNICEF Image: Pakistan, Balochistan, Cyclone, Flood
© UNICEF Pakistan/2007/Pasha
A woman in Kuch Valari reaches into a pot where her family’s grain was stored before it was destroyed by last month's flood.

Nazar Mohammed Marghazani, a lean and soft-spoken man, said it will take years to rebuild the village. “These houses were built by our fathers and forefathers. Now we have to plough our lands again,” he said, surveying the wreckage around him.

Challenges ahead

UNICEF responded quickly in the aftermath of the crisis. “Our first support was the provision of essential medicines to the Government, the supply of 100 metric tonnes of UNIMIX [a high-energy food supplement], as well as bed nets to combat malaria and dengue fever,” explained the Head of UNICEF’s Provincial Office in Quetta, Dr. Mohammad Younus.

“We have also been working to ensure that the national measles campaign continues to reach children across the province, especially those in the flood zones.” he added.

While no epidemics have been reported, diarrhoeal diseases and skin infections are on the rise. Several hundred thousand children under five are particularly at risk for infectious diseases caused by improper water and sanitation. UNICEF is now coordinating with the Government, UN agencies and other partners to ensure that children receive access to all essential services.

“The challenges ahead are the revival of infrastructure and the enduring needs of people who are still displaced,” said Dr. Younus. “They are in need of shelter, food, drinking water and also they need medicines.”





23 July 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Kun Li reports on the situation of women and children in flood-affected communities in Balochistan, Pakistan.
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