Pakistan floods: eight months on, survivors speak up

Emergencies article written on the 13 Apr 2011

Photo: Farkanda Wazir/Oxfam

Eight months after Pakistan was struck by the worst floods in living memory, urgent rebuilding and recovery work has barely started. As the Pakistan government continues to delay its reconstruction strategy, hundreds of thousands of flood-affected people remain either displaced or unable to afford food. What do they feel are the most serious problems facing their country in the wake of the disaster? Oxfam decided to find out and conducted a survey among flood survivors – the results of which provide a compelling insight into their needs and desires, and highlight the importance of rebuilding Pakistan better.

Main findings

The poll of 2,040 people – carried out between 15 and 24 January 2011 in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan and Sindh provinces by Pakistani NGO Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) for Oxfam, revealed that:

  • Around 70% of those affected by the floods want the country’s reconstruction efforts to generate jobs
  • Some 85% saw increased poverty as one of the most serious issues facing the country in the aftermath of the floods
  • Thirty-four per cent called for more affordable food to be produced
  • Twenty-three per cent believed the construction of homes was a priority

Oxfam’s Country Director in Pakistan, Neva Khan, explains: “People want jobs. They are not looking for hand outs. They want to work their way out of poverty and rebuild a better life than before. They are calling for food they can afford, healthcare for when they are sick, and somewhere to live – the most basic of basics.”

The survey also showed that those affected by the floods had mixed experiences when it came to relief providers. Sixty-six per cent of respondents said they were “satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with aid from international agencies such as Oxfam. Forty-two per cent said the same for relief provided by the government of Pakistan. Over a third were concerned about corruption in relief and reconstruction efforts.

What now?

Clearly, there is still much work to be done to get Pakistan back on track. “There is no time to waste when the future of so many is at stake,” says Khan. “It is clear what millions of Pakistan’s most vulnerable people want. Unless those who are planning Pakistan’s recovery from the floods take these needs into account, they risk wasting scarce resources and missing an opportunity to build back Pakistan fairer and stronger.”

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Learn more about Oxfam’s response to the Pakistan floods

Flood-affected Pakistanis tell their stories