Archive for July, 2011

Pakistan: Averting Flood Disasters for the Poorest

Posted on Thursday, July 28th, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Women farmers cut animal fodder for domestic livestock in Basti Machi village. Photo: Pakistan, Concern Worldwide

By Joan Bolger, Communications Officer, US

Standing on the 6-foot-high embankment that encircles the village of Basti Machi in Punjab Province a three-hour drive from the city of Multan, it’s hard to imagine the destruction wrought by the Indus located not 200 meters from here. Just one year ago, super monsoon rains completely submerged large swathes of this province in six feet of water flattening crops, destroying houses and wiping out livelihoods. For the poorest, the effect was catastrophic.

Nastabebe a 25-year-old mother of one and the appointed leader of this proud village recalls the devastation in quiet, hurried tones. “We rushed, men and women together to build the walls higher around our village after we were warned the waters were coming. With our hands we packed mud to make the walls bigger and wider. We worked day and night, but we could not beat the speed of the river. Everything was lost.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Chad: Taking a Gamble with Better Odds

Posted on Tuesday, July 19th, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Dosseye Refugee Camp, Southern Chad. Photo: Francesca Reinhardt

By Francesca Reinhardt, Program Support Officer, Chad  

At 6:30 am on the dot the rain begins to fall in Goré, southern Chad.  It sounds like an avalanche clattering down on the tin roof overhead.  This is the sound everyone’s been waiting for with bated breath, because it’s already mid-May and the rains should have started a few weeks ago.  But after twenty minutes it stops.  Is it a false alarm?  There’s no more rain, but the air is thick and heavy and clouds still hover in the distance, promising more.  So after a long, hot dry season, the farmers swing into gear.

When to plant is a serious gamble for farmers.  If the rains don’t start in earnest, the soil will dry up and precious seeds will get blown away.  If they wait too long, it might be too late, and food stores from the year before will have to last even longer.  For many subsistence farmers, the months between the end of the harsh dry season and the first harvest are known as the “hunger gap,” when they have to survive on the last of the cereal crop, foraging, and loans.

There is an added danger that if families get too hungry, they will eat the seeds they need to plant for the next harvest, thus threatening their food supply for the following year.  Some families hide their seeds in trees, or anywhere else that will keep them out of reach of hungry children.  This is obviously a difficult choice for families to make: to have their children go hungry now, or risk starvation the following year. Read the rest of this entry »

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