Pakistan floods: Saving livestock while fleeing Sindh

Emergencies article written on the 13 Aug 2010

Floodwater is approaching fast to the district Daud in Sindh Province. Oxfam staffer Mubashar Hasan offers this heartbreaking eyewitness account from the village of Sial.

Perhaps I have encountered one of the most striking scenes of my life today when I saw a woman with two cows fleeing her home in knee-deep water in a village named Sial at the district Dadu in Sindh province. The woman was struggling to walk and manage her two livestock. At some point as per my worry she fell down, as the land under her feet was perhaps slippery and muddy.

I saw that unknown women pulled her up and started to walk on the unseen road with her livestock. However, she never lost the ropes of her livestock.

It was a living hell with roads and parts of houses and trees submerged under water where the temperature was in between 48 to 50 degrees.

“We have no hopes from any one,” said a 60-year-old frustrated Mohammad Chukmat, who also was fleeing with his 20 livestock to a safer place.

Local political parties had set up shelters there and I saw police patrols on the main road of Sial, parts of which were submerged under water.

“The water level is seven feet high in my house,” Chukmat said with tearful eyes, adding, “ I want to go back to my home.”

A total of 50,000 people are being affected in the district. Authorities managed to evacuate 2,119 people, where as 6,200 livestock were dead.

“The biggest difficulties we faced that people here don’t want to leave their houses even when local authorities have announced evacuation plans for them,” said Sher Mohammad, education coordinator of SAFCOW, Oxfam’s local partner in Dadu.

“Authorities even announced section 144 to force people to leave their houses but still the ratio of people leaving danger zones are low,’ Sher Mohammad said.

Indeed it is a complex situation here: Which one should come first, human life or livestock? At least to some people here saving livestock means saving their own life because without those livestock living would be as difficult or equal to death.