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Bitter weather bites in Pakistan flood camps

Andrew McConnell - Panos Pictures

This year’s Eid break was very quiet for me. We didn’t celebrate Eid as a family because my former husband had recently passed away. According to our culture, whenever a family member dies you observe mourning for 40 days. My husband had had a dependency problem with drugs and was found dead one morning. We had been separated since 2004 – I made the final break when I felt my sons were old enough. Although they have been living with me since then, they are going through a very hard time.

Just before Eid, we had the mid-term review at the office, which kept me busy and focused on my work. We also arranged to have the goat meat from the traditional Eid sacrifice distributed among the flood victims we are working with. A lot of people have also donated warm clothing which we distributed a few days ago because it is starting to get very cold here.

We have been looking into getting pre-fabricated houses for the families who lost their homes in the floods.

We are in touch with the local manufacturers who installed pre-fab homes in the earthquake region following the earthquake in 2005. We have asked them to re-design their two-room houses into one large room and make the bathroom accessible from the outside.

These homes have been originally designed for urban living, whereas in the rural areas of Pakistan sanitation is a big issue. Flush latrines are starting to be introduced, but most people still use pit latrines (basically a large hole dug in the ground). Therefore, the entrance to the bathroom should be from the outside. The price is coming to £2,500 for one home. They include a proper insulation and drainage system. The other option is a simple house designed by a local architect made of cement. We don’t have an estimate on the cost of those as yet.

Hopefully we will get some funding from the Heinrich Boll Foundation to pay for the houses. We are also planning to apply for funding from USAID. In the beginning we avoided them since their overheads are very high and the money does not trickle down a lot. By that I mean it goes to pay high salaries and admin costs, which we don’t believe in.

Finding funds is getting to be a very competitive environment and most aid has been diverted to relief work.

Our regular protection programme has limited funding so we are now trying to mix the two – flood relief and protection of women and children. Wherever we work now we make committees for trouble shooting and they refer cases where women and children need help to us.

As told to

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Zubaida Noor