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Pakistan Floods: Oxfam prepares for winter with cash-for-work quilts, sweaters

Pakistan Floods: Oxfam prepares for winter with cash-for-work quilts, sweaters

November 29, 2010

Harsh winter climates could lead to a steep increase in illnesses, including pneumonia and other respiratory diseases. In preparation, Oxfam has been distributing thousands of winter kits to some of the worst flood-hit communities in Upper Swat, in Kyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) – areas often cut off by heavy snows and where temperatures can fall well below zero. 

These kits – containing quilts, sweaters, shawls, and socks – are being packed up and sent out to some of the most vulnerable flood-hit communities in northern Pakistan, including female -headed households  
 “The winter is going to double their miseries,” said Imran Khan, Oxfam’s public health promotion team leader in Swat and Shangla.  “Already, their coping mechanism does not exist. Now, when winter comes, it’s more or less death for them. The disease rate is high, they don’t have any household equipment to cope in this situation. The only way to help them against winter is these kits.”

Through a cash-for-work program, women in Ingorederai village are making winter quilts to be sent to flood survivors living in some of the worst-hit areas. The cash-for-work project, organized by Oxfam and its local partner, Lasoona, is giving women a chance to earn money for basic necessities and also helps to take their minds off their daily difficulties.

Women participating in the program said they’re happy to be able to work, as it’s a rare chance to earn some much-needed money.  “We don’t have any money for medical bills,” said 65-year-old Malyara Gujar.    

“We are poor people. Everything we had was damaged in the floods.  Everything.”
“I’ve got young children at home and my husband died four years ago,” said Pervin Gujar, 40.  “We still have a mud house, but everything was damaged in the floods.  I have an old father-in-law at home.  It’s been hard to earn a daily wage, a regular source of income.”

Another cash-for work project pays women for their knitting skills, paying them 5,600 rupees after they’ve completed two sweaters.  
“I’m very happy to get this cheque because my husband is unemployed.  We have had to take out so many loans,” said Fatima Matkhankel, who is pregnant.
“We should have clean quilts and warm clothes for the children. But we have nothing.  Everything was damaged in the floods. My children are sick now because of the cold,” said Hajera Mulian, a mother of six.

While most of the sweaters and quilts are heading to vulnerable communities in upper Swat, some sweaters are being distributed to orphans in Mingora.

High in the Swat mountains, the snows are already visible.  It’s a race against time to get help to the people who need it most  – so at least they have some insulation against the bitter cold.


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