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Floods Emergency Preparedness

Bahr Ahmed has four children including two daughters. He is resident of Mera Khel, UC Tarnol, Charsadda, KPK, Pakistan.Two of his children go to school. His wife works at home and also in the field to assist him in different chores. He lives in a house shared by a larger family of his brothers and parents. They have three rooms which were made of brick after those were destroyed in 2010 floods. However, boundary wall is made of mud which keeps him worried all the time.

He is a landless small farmer who has leased two hectare of land for cultivating wheat, animal fodder and sugar cane. Beside it, he goes to the city to seek labor on daily wages. His community has been proactive in responding to flood emergency situation with effective preparedness. He tells us what makes him and his community different this time that they escaped a hazard.  

Our women and children were scared of floods. They recalled damage caused by previous floods and could not sleep at night. Together with women, there were many men including me that we did not like eating meals. In my neighbourhood, many families even did not cook food as they were so afraid of .emergency warning. Small farmers like me are feeling insupportable burden of rising debt.

Now we will have to buy fodder for animals from the market where its prices has already raised. We are fortunate that flood water did not enter our homes though it was striking against house walls. I am very thankful to ActionAid Pakistan and United Youth Welfare Organization (UYWO) that they timely held capacity building trainings for us. Our Village Development Organizations (VDOs) were equipped with basic equipment to deal with emergency situations.

ActionAid Pakistan and UNWO provided our community a first aid box, lifesaving jackets, a mega phone, a radio, a stretcher, ropes etc. We are happy that we practiced community based disaster preparedness and escaped a hazard. The trainings were the most effective part of our emergency preparations. We learnt hazard mapping as we identified places to watch water level constantly. We all know where the safer places are located. Mega phones helped us communicate latest floods warning updates with the community.

These trainings empowered us to have timely access to reliable information. We developed close coordination among ourselves including other VDOs. We secured contact information of District Coordination Officer (DCO) and other emergency related staff like irrigation department. We did wall chalking and displayed banners at important locations to spread information related to emergency preparedness. I believe if we had received such trainings and support before, we might have avoided most of the damage caused by floods in 2010 and onward.

Now we get together quite frequently in a day and discuss the situation on the basis of information received from all possible sources. We feel so exalted of our conviction in people’s power that we raise our voice wherever we feel discriminated. Once there was no doctor to attend the patients in nearby hospital that I called the radio channel reporter whose number I received during the trainings to keep in touch for emergency updates. He along with other reporters with video cameras came to the hospital and reported the negligence of public servants. Finally, the doctor came to the hospital and examined the patients.

There are so many stories of hope and commitment that I may continue talking for hours. We have been trained in sustainable agricultural practices. It saves us a lot of money and we earn more profit of our crops. We make local compost which saves of hundreds of rupees of input cost. We also learnt that local compost is more environmental friendly and un-toxic. We also use local pesticides to save us money and offer us hygienic food. 

All these initiatives have given us a new confidence to deal with emergency more wisely and effectively. Though loss of crops has created an alarming situation for most of us, yet we are happy that we escaped a major hazard”.