As Pakistan Events Show, Emergency Assistance is Simply a First Step

Chris Herlinger | October 11, 2013

Rahelan stands outside her home in Thatta District. Photo: Saleem Dominic/CWS

Rahelan stands outside her home in Thatta District. Photo: Saleem Dominic/CWS

Herald Angelo and Kelli Siddiqui, two CWS colleagues in Pakistan, recently submitted a story that is worth sharing widely because it shows why humanitarian assistance is so needed immediately after a disaster.

The story is about a small Pakistani village where a flood wiped out the villagers’ source of food and a nearby fishing farm where many of the village residents worked. That left villagers without food.

One of the families most affected was that of a middle-aged woman, Rahelan, and her sister and two daughters. The family had not eaten anything for two days when CWS staffers met them during an assessment visit to determine what the community’s most urgent needs were.

Their story is proof of how fragile life is in many parts of the world. When floods destroyed Rahelan’s source of income, “she had no access to income or food. Not knowing what else to do, she approached the owner of the fish farm as well as neighbors and other relatives for assistance. No one helped her,” Herald and Kelli wrote.

The food packages that CWS provided Rahelan’s village made a difference – not only for the immediate moment but as a salve for the next 30-40 days. That may be time enough for Rahelan and others to get by until they can fine new sources of income.

Yet these are just first steps – needed steps, to be sure, to help families simply survive. As Herald and Kelli pointed out, CWS “is committed to work with vulnerable communities so that they may increase their awareness and take action to protect their lives, homes, and livelihoods during future disasters,” adding: “Efforts to diversify their livelihoods to include non-agricultural sources and to empower women as decision-makers and income-earners further help decrease poverty and the risks from seasonal rains and floods.”

For the complete story, see:

Chris Herlinger is senior writer for CWS.