Read how villagers in Pakistan made plans to protect their communities from floods

2 July 2013

Anglican hospital administrator Naveed Khurram Gill was responsible for organising the visit by Alliance relief manager Tania Nino to four communities in the Sindh Province of Pakistan.

He wanted to find ways for the community to prepare for flooding which devastated local communities two years ago, and which are predicted to be worse this year than ever.

During a two week visit, training sessions took place with community workers so that they could also help people prepare for the floods. And there were four communities meetings in the Umerkot District in the Sindh Province Pakistan at:

  • Thar Mabi Sar
  • Pandra Water
  • Dohro Mori Gihapno
  • Rushanbad

At these meetings the whole community gathered  – women, children, teenagers, the elderly, people with disabilities, people from all faith communities, Christians, Hindus and Muslims. With the support of Naveed, Tania and local interpreters, they worked through the cloth book and considered:

–  The story of Noah’s Ark and what it taught them about the importance of preparing for flooding

–  What was at risk during the floods – especially vulnerable people, and valuable buildings, crops and livestock. There was a special focus on people with disabilities who needed special help to escape from the floodwater

–  What resources the community had to plan, prepare and protect the community from the disaster

–  How to learn the lessons from the flooding

It was an interactive process and the community shared their experiences during the past floods, especially in 2011 when flooding was especially severe and many people lost family members, property and livestock, and were trapped for several months.  They explored different ways to use their limited resources, reflected on the need to care for the most vulnerable and came up with ideas to establish warning systems, especially using whistles to sound the alarm.

 The communities visited were already very vulnerable due to:

  • Chronic poverty experienced by many villagers
  • Remoteness and harsh climate conditions
  • Security issues
  • Their conditions as landless people
  • The marginalisation that Christian and Hindus face as minorities
  • Cultural practices and especially the disadvantage experienced by women
  • High illiteracy rates
  • Lack of community empowerment

The Kunri Christian hospital is the only one in the Kunri area, serving the most marginalised communities, including Hindus, Christians and Muslims. Pregnant women and children are constantly arriving at the hospital seeking care and support, and it also has an outreach programme to provide health services to the most remote communities. The hospital is located within a big compound where the churches are located as well as a nursing residence. The hospital had also been badly affected by the floods in 2011 and it serves as a point of reference to carry out flood preparedness work with the communities.

In an innovative move after the final meeting doctor and nurses provided health services for the community.

During the meetings the community also gave feedback on the cloth book, and now the Anglican Alliance is looking at making changes and adapting the book to meet the needs of other communities. The book was made using innovative computer-aided design and production by a school in Northampton, UK, using fabric made out of recycled plastic bottles, and with design advice from Naveed and Revd Rana Khan.

The visit was made possible with the support and guidance of Rt Rev Kaleem John, Bishop of Hyderabad  and  Rt Revd Saddiq Daniel, Bishop of Karachi. Naveed Khurram took part in the Anglican Alliance Commonwealth Professional Fellowship Scheme for health administrators. It was during the scheme in April this year that he spoke with the Alliance about the disaster facing his local community, and was able to work with the relief manager to provide practical support and disaster-preparedness to the people in Kunri.