After Pakistan's Floods: Sindh Family Builds New Home with IOM Help

Date Publish: 
11/04/10
Region-Country: 
Pakistan / Asia

The floodwater has largely receded in this part of the interior of
Sindh province, leaving villages reduced to rubble, acres of
farmland covered with mud, and roads and bridges destroyed.

Premchand's family lost everything in the floods, like many in
Kashmore district, where the disaster hit hard. "Our house was
destroyed and then all the cooking pots and other household items
we left behind were stolen," says the 42-year-old father of
five.

The floods inundated the village of Baggan Khan, where he used
to live with around 210 other families, in early September. "The
water rose so fast that we could only bring our children to safety
on the main road, which is higher than the village. We had no time
to take anything with us," he says.

Premchand and his wife Sahiba fled with their children to the
city of Quetta in Balochistan, where they first stayed in a rented
room. But they soon ran out of money and moved outside, sleeping in
the open by the roadside.

After a month and a half, they returned to Baggan Khan, where
the flood water was still standing two feet deep.

The water has since receded and Premchand has built a new home
with the help of IOM.

"In a few days we will move in. We only need to finish the roof,"
he says, leading us proudly into the house, which consists of just
one large room.

IOM provided half of the bricks, the wooden door, window frames
and material for the roof. Premchand had to provide the rest of the
construction materials and build the house himself, which he says
took 11 days.

"We're happy to have this house. It's solid and big enough for
us," says his wife Sahiba.

"We had a mud brick home before and that was less strong than this
house," adds Premchand.

The 25 square-meter home, part of IOM's one-room shelter pilot
project, is built from local bricks, with traditional wood, bamboo
and mud roofing.

Nearly 60 of the 100 model shelters planned for Sindh are
currently under construction. The project will also build 100 in
Punjab and 100 in Kyber Pakhtunkhwa.

"The project uses local designs and materials and is mobilizing
communities' capacity for self help," says Hassan Abdel Moneim
Mostafa, IOM Regional Representative for West and Central Asia.

"Its objective is to test the IOM-led shelter cluster's early
recovery strategy, which aims to provide safe and durable interim
housing solutions that minimize further displacement and encourage
flood victims to return home," he adds.

The one-room shelter is a flexible alternative to transitional
shelters that use bamboo or timber frames and plastic sheeting for
roofing and walls. At a relatively low cost of USD 200 on average
per shelter, it will help people rebuild a home that will last for
several years and is consistent with local building practices.

 

An IOM construction expert gave Premchand technical advice,
including how to excavate drainage channels and how to reinforce
the walls and roof.

"The house will save us from the winter cold," says Premchand.
"Nights get very cold here in winter, so you need to have a
house."

Like many flood victims, Premchand's family has been living in a
makeshift tent since he returned. Some have built temporary
shelters of wood, bamboo and leaves.

The villagers are mostly small-scale farmers and are now
struggling to rebuild their livelihoods.

Premchand says before the floods, his income from cattle trading
and farming was sufficient to feed the family. But his goats and
chicken drowned and his pigeons – another source of income
– flew away.

"I have no money to buy new cattle," he says, adding that he
hopes one day he will have saved enough to buy new goats.

Farming has become difficult because much of the patch of land
he was cultivating is now covered with sand and mud from the flood
water.

"We're growing vegetables on the little bit of land left, but
it's not enough," he says.

Premchand's family, like many other flood victims, is now
dependent on food aid, which he receives from the government and
the UN World Food Programme.

Premchand and his wife Sahiba in the new house they built through IOM’s help. Aside from technical support, half of the bricks, the wooden door, window frames and materials for the roof were given by IOM. © IOM 2010 (Photo: Marco Bottelli)