50-year-old Safooran w/o Arab Bheel, lives with her three children in village Bheenriyo Bheel, in District Umerkot, Sindh.
Despite being swamped with responsibilities of domestic work, looking after her children and fetching water from long distances, she also works as a daily wage laborer for road construction. Her day is spent toiling under the blistering heat, crushing stones and melting pitch. Working under the scorching heat of the sun has made her life quite arduous and challenging.
Since such a labour opportunity Is only available in urban or semi-urban areas, far away from where she lives, Safooran, spends most of the day out of the house to meet the basic needs of her family. Owing to the long distances, she has no choice but to celebrate Holi (religious festival of Hindu community) away from her loved ones. Explaining the challenges of the pandemic, she said that due to Coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns, there was no work opportunity available and the entire community faced problems earning a livelihood and providing meals to the family.
“One day ACTED team called us to collect our money. I went there and received cash assistance of PKR 21,000. Words are insufficient to express how I felt at that moment. It was like a ray of light in bleak darkness. I cannot thank ACTED and WFP enough for providing much-needed assistance in this difficult time of my life.”
Helping the Helpless During Crisis
The residents of village Ramiyo Gaju in District Umerkot have experienced the worst effects of drought over the years. 80-year-old Suleman suffers from Tuberculosis and lives with his visually impaired wife in in District Umerkot, Sindh. He relies on livestock and daily wage labour to meet their basic food and health needs.
Challenges of vulnerable communities in Sindh
The province of Sindh in Pakistan is prone to frequent spells of drought, which is exacerbated by the impacts of climate change. Communities struggle to survive in drought-stricken areas of District Umerkot, where people rely on livestock and daily wage work to meet their basic food and health needs. People sell either animals or animal milk to pay for food and other necessities, while other use milk and meat from livestock to feed their families. Besides rearing of livestock, communities in Umerkot have few sources of income.
When livestock are lost, communities largely depend on daily wage labor. However, with high prevalence of poverty, work is difficult to find, forcing men and women to seasonally migrate or travel to nearby areas in search of livelihood opportunities.
Despite his best efforts, many of Suleiman’s livestock died from lack of food and water, leaving him and his wife malnourished and vulnerable.
A community mobilizer told Suleiman that ACTED, with funding from World Food Programme, was providing assistance to people like him. Suleiman immediately applied for the cash assistance.
After verification of his situation, Suleiman received training on health, hygiene, nutrition, agriculture, livestock, and a cash assistance of PKR 21, 000. The assistance enabled him to feed himself and his family.
These travels expose vulnerable populations including women to safety and security risks. The limited food supply in these drought-affected areas is causing malnutrition among communities including women and children. Poor hygiene conditions are prevalent with open deification common among people, who suffer from acute diseases like diarrhea and fever.
Cash Based Assistance to Improve Food Security and Livelihood Conditions of Vulnerable Drought-Affected Communities
As part of the response to provide emergency life-saving assistance to drought-affected communities, ACTED is implementing the project “Cash Based Assistance to Improve both the Food Security and Livelihood Conditions of Vulnerable Drought Affected Communities in District Umerkot, Sindh’’ funded by World Food Programme (WFP). The program benefits more than 6,200 vulnerable drought-affected households through activities designed to strengthen food security, improve awareness on safe hygiene and nutrition practices, enhance knowledge on alternate livelihood options and increase knowledge on climate smart agriculture and livestock management.
During project implementation, Covid-19 hit province Sindh hard. To contain the spread of Covid-19, the district government enforced restrictions and lockdowns. With normal day activities on hold, project beneficiaries, most of whom were daily wage workers, had no means to earn a living and were at risk of worsened malnutrition and even starvation.
ACTED in coordination and support of World Food Programme and district government continued to provide immediate assistance to vulnerable communities, enabling them to meet their food and other necessities.