Case study

Surviving the floods: getting through each day

How UK aid funded relief packages have helped families move back to their villages

Flood survivors Mahash Begum and her son Ali Akbar. Picture: ActionAid
Flood survivors Mahash Begum and her son Ali Akbar. Picture: ActionAid

Relief packages, funded by UKaid from the Department for International Development (DFID) and delivered by ActionAid, are helping families in northern Pakistan survive the impact of the floods.

“We were hungry and feared starvation when ActionAid reached us. They provided us with food (which was funded by UK aid from DFID). Food is the most invaluable thing in the early days of flooding. It gave us new life. Without food one does not have strength. When the stomach is full, one can think about other things.”

Fifty-year-old Mahash Begum lives in Chel village, Bishigram, Upper Swat. She has 3 sons and her husband Shah Mazob Khan is a farm labourer. Although her family is poor, they’d managed to save enough money to build a house.

“I cannot forget how difficult it was for us to build our house,” she says.

“It took so much money, so much effort and many years. It was a small home consisting of two rooms but it was our heaven. Despite being poor, we were happy to own our house.”

But, like millions of other people in Pakistan, Mahash’s home was washed away in the floods. Her rented farmland was also badly damaged.

“All of a sudden, water wiped out my vegetables. The whole land seemed barren, as if nothing ever grew there,” she recalls.

“I worked hard on that land, ploughed it and planted seeds. All gone, all finished. We are unable to pay its rent because the crop is destroyed. We do not have cash to re-cultivate it.”

UK aid relief packages

After the floods arrived, Mahash and her family went to relatives for shelter and food. But they were shocked to find out that their extended family were running out of food stock too. Mahash and her husband really started to worry.

Thankfully ActionAid visited the family and gave them a relief package. Funded by UKaid from DFID, the packages contain food, a large bag of wheat, cooking oil and pulses.

“It was enough for my family,” says Mahash.

“Now we have put a tent here outside my relatives’ house and are living through each day. God willing, things will get better. I am very hopeful.”

Key facts and stats

Chel village lies in the Bishigram Valley of upper Swat and was badly affected by the floods. Most houses in the area were destroyed and bridges and roads leading to the valley were washed away.

UK aid, from the Department for International Development, funded the relief packages via the Consortium of British Humanitarian Agencies. The packages contain food, hygiene kits and household and kitchen items.

Twenty million people have been affected by the floods.

1.9 million houses have been destroyed or damaged.

DFID has pledged £134 million of UKaid to help the people of Pakistan. You can find out more about how this money is being allocated by visting our Pakistan Flood Monitor.

Published 25 October 2010