UN World Food Programme

A Year After Floods, Pakistan Families Get Back On Their Feet

Mai Amiran and her eight-month-old daughter, Shama, with a packet of "Wawa Mum" -- a locally-produced food product tailored to the nutritional needs of small children. Copyright: WFP/Amjad Jamal

One year ago, torrential monsoon rains unleashed a wave of flooding across Pakistan in what would become the worst natural disaster in its history. In response, WFP mounted a huge relief operation to assist over 8.7 million people. Today, flood victims are getting back on their feet with the help of food-based programmes designed to help them rebuild.

KARACHI—After six months, Mai Amiran still has trouble believing that a flood could have destroyed her home. “There has never been flooding in our area for as long as anyone can remember,” she says.

Until last August, Amiran lived near Haji Ibrahim Arain, a village near the city of Jacobobad in the southern Pakistani region of Sindh.

Whereas the waters from last summer’s floods have largely receded in most other parts of the country, here in Sindh they are still standing and still preventing people like Amiran from going home.

“Lately it’s been getting very cold at night,” says Amiran, who has four children the youngest of which was recently very ill. “We’re tired of living outside. We want to go home.”

Six long months

Amiran and her children are among over 350,000 people in Sindh who are still living in tents.  Unable to rebuild and without the means to provide for themselves, their only means of survival come from food rations provided by WFP.

In addition to wheat flour, oil and pulses, Amiran’s daughters receive a nutritionally charged chick-pea paste called “Wawa Mum.” A play on the expression in Pashto meaning “yum!”, locally-produced Wawa Mum packs all the vitamins and nutrients that young children need to grow and be healthy.

That can make a crucial difference for children like Amiran’s who will spend much of this winter in a tent.

Signs of progress

Despite the persistently harsh living conditions for many people in Sindh, the situation there, as in the rest of Pakistan, is starting to look up. Most farmers were able to return to their land in time to plant the wheat crop and the harvest this year is expected to be just 25 per cent smaller than in 2010.

Many villages have begun rebuilding and early recovery activities like “cash and food for work” schemes that provide for people’s basic necessities while they clear roads and repair bridges are starting to get under way.

In the meantime, Amiran’s children have returned to school where warm meals provided through WFP’s school feeding programme await them.

Amiran too says she’s hopeful that the worst is behind them and that by this time next year, her children will have a house to come home to.