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Survival strategies

Narrators describe a number of different means they employ to survive. Most diversify their sources of income as much as possible. Some, explains Nasreen, combine begging and petty trade. Some of those settled in Sanghar are rural migrants, drawn to city life by the need for work.

Those living around Manchar Lake, like Fatima, say that many families have left the area for good, looking for employment elsewhere. Although it seems that finding other work is harder for fishing families than farmers, Hodat has managed to diversify from her traditional occupation of fishing.

Many, like Karim Bux, take on casual labour or temporarily migrate for work; his family is greatly helped by a brother’s remittance from overseas. “We took out a loan and sold our livestock” to send him to Saudi Arabia, he explains.

Mircho has left his caste occupation completely; in contrast Nasreen regrets that her family has been unable to break out of their traditional work.

Salma and Kishore, living on the fringes of Sanghar town, have gradually built up small businesses. Chhutta left farming for life in the city where he found more opportunities for casual labour, but still cannot earn enough to educate his children.


Survival strategies is a key theme of the Living with poverty: Pakistan oral testimony project.


Allah Bux: older generation

Basran: desperate times

Chhutta: migrant’s tale

Fatima: vulnerable lives

Hodat: diversifying business

Karim Bux: lacking support

Khamiso: looking back

Kishore: living prudently

Mircho: losing dignity

Nasreen: just surviving

Nazeer: high standards

Salma: independent spirit

Key themes

Introduction to the project

Loans and debt

Survival strategies

The cost of poverty

Environmental decline


Political representation


Insecurity and conflict


Food security and health