Pakistan floods: Cash grants for families on the way
The government plans to start handing out cash grants to victims of the Pakistan floods in the coming weeks. Donations from abroad are dwindling as a costly recovery effort begins.
Sajad Hussein returned home last week after the Pakistan floods started to recede, walked onto the jumble of thatch and mud that had been his home, and sat down. He says he’s been mostly sitting these past five days, waiting for someone to give him something with which to rebuild.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Pakistan floods
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Hundreds of miles upriver near Risalpur, Abdullah Jan grew tired of sitting around in a tent camp so he started making his own cement bricks. After some trial and error, the farmer now has 3,000 bricks baking in the sun, not nearly enough to rebuild his former mud hut.
The difference in approach represents a broad problem across the country that comes down to a key difference between the two men: access to money. Mr. Jan borrowed money from friends. What he collected wasn’t enough to buy bricks – now selling at double the price they sold for before the flood – so he found a way to make his own.
Starter funds, like the boost Jan got from his friends, are needed to help Mr. Hussein and hundreds of thousands like him on to their feet again. The Pakistani government plans to start cash grants in the coming weeks. But with the floodwaters receding and international media attention fading, donations from abroad are dwindling just as the country embarks on a costly recovery effort.
Pakistani aid breakdown
Pakistan is planning substantial grants for citizens. Here's the breakdown, according to the Pakistani government:
* Every flood-affected family will receive 20,000 rupees, or $234. With 20 million affected, that would total at least $4.68 billion.
* Those whose homes were destroyed will receive an additional 80,000 rupees, or $935. That will cost another $1.76 billion.
* Extremely at-risk families – such as those headed by women or the disabled – will also receive $58 a month for the next six months. Total cost: unknown.
The government will also give seed and fertilizer to help farmers start replanting.
“These people have lost everything – their houses, their agricultural land, their crops, their livestock, and they don’t have anything,” says Nadeem Ahmed, the retired general in charge of Pakistan’s disaster response. “So we need to hold their hands for a longer duration.”
Getting people back on their feet could take about a year, while the overall reconstruction effort will take “three to five years, minimum,” says Mr. Ahmed.
Going home to mud
But as individuals wait for that aid to reach them, many villagers are returning to their land to see what can be done with their homes in the mean time.
Some houses still stand. But a look inside reveals large holes, fallen roofs, and deep cracks. Many homes made of mud – which is common in rural areas – have simply washed away.
For some like Hussein in Muzaffargarh district, the shock of the loss appears to be paralyzing. He said there was nothing he could do until someone gave him materials and money. Asked if he could begin at least cleaning up the ruins of his home, he said he had no tools to do so.
His neighbor, Gualum Rasual, spent the first two days back home clearing up the deep mud left in his compound. “We are looking for our belongings which were buried,” says Mr. Rasual. The mud, which is several feet deep in places, “is very sticky and you sink into it. It’s slippery. There are snakes.”