Stories from the field: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Reviving access to basic necessities
September 20, 2022
My name is Muhammad Ilyas, and I live in Shaheed Abad village in the Nowshera District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It was the night of August 26th when we were informed by a few friends that there is a danger of flash floods in our area.
Initially, my family and I did not take the warning seriously, as our area is a good two kilometers from the bank of the Kabul River. Soon afterwards the district authorities started the door-to-door announcements for evacuations. The same ominous warning was blasting through the local mosque speakers.
It seemed unreal and we didn’t have time to think and plan. We quickly decided to relocate the women and children in our family to a safe area, which was around five kilometers away from our home.
We only picked necessary items like a few clothes and bedding and had to leave everything else behind. People in our village who evacuated on time were able to move their expensive possessions to safer places.
I decided to stay back home, somehow hoping that there will be no floods. But the hope started vanishing as I noticed water gushing in our area. I had to leave my home.
We spent the first days in a safe area. As the water started receding slightly, my father and I decided to go back home to assess the damage. The situation at our home was very bad, almost everything was destroyed including beds, wooden furniture, mattresses, food items and home appliances. It took us many years to save money and buy these items, and it took only 24 hours for the water to destroy everything.
Our house also sustained extensive damage. The boundary walls were wrecked by flood water. The inner walls of the house are full of cracks and at risk of crumbling down.
Today the water is still standing in our area.
We need clean beddings and blankets. There is also a shortage of clean drinking water, as the groundwater is contaminated. Water is being distributed through tankers by the district administration and local relief organizations.
The area is infested by mosquitos. This is causing many health issues like dengue, diarrhea, and skin rashes. Our children are getting sick on regular basis, but we are getting treatment from medical camps in our area.
We are still without power due to the floods. We need urgent restoration of electricity or any alternate source such as solar electricity. Most of the families in our areas are underprivileged. They can’t afford to rebuild or repair their houses and the winter is approaching fast. The flood has also disrupted employment generation activities for vulnerable and daily wage workers in the vicinity.
33 million people have been affected by the floods in Pakistan. People need the means to restore their livelihoods so that they can get back on their feet. To build forward better, recovery and reconstruction must be climate resilient and inclusive. UNDP has already started working in this space, liaising with partners and the Government of Pakistan on the needs assessment. For early recovery, UNDP is also pivoting its existing programming.
Story by: Shahzad Ahmed, Communications Officer, UNDP Pakistan