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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Creating resilience among farming families in Muzaffargarh, Pakistan


When the floodwater receded, both the land and its people were scarred.

It was early September of 2014. The monsoon rains had arrived in Pakistan and were unusually heavy. In the region of Muzaffargarh, small creeks transformed into rushing torrents. Rivers and canals, swollen well beyond anything anyone had seen in a long while, overflowed their banks, enveloping everything in their path.

The destruction was on a scale approaching the unimaginable. Entire fields of rice, maize, vegetables, and sugar cane vanished, buried under water and mud – and just days before the harvest! Planting the next crop, a type of wheat popular in the region, was impossible. The torrent had ensured that nothing could be planted for weeks to come. Many homes, animal sheds, and seed storage buildings fell victim to brute force of the floodwater.
Meeting with flood-affected families to assess the damage.

Restoration for families and their farmland

HOPE International Development Agency sought out the poorest of the poor affected by the devastation in Muzaffargarh. The generosity of HOPE supporters made it possible for flood-affected families to rehabilitate their land and replant crops as soon as possible. It also restored a sense of hope and normalcy amidst the upheaval.

At the time, Noreen Mai, a mother struggling in the aftermath of the flood said, “The flood destroyed all of our stored food and my family is facing serious problems. But due to this support, my family will overcome this situation.”

Improving the long-term outlook for farming families

Beyond the work of meeting the needs of flood-affected families in the weeks and months following the disaster, HOPE has been helping families learn new skills and pool their resources. Both of these initiatives make the families, and their communities, more resilient – a crucial aspect of life in a region frequented by natural disasters.

HOPE has also helped form, train, and support community groups in Muzaffargarh and four other neighboring districts. The work with the community groups continues, helping them further increase their skills, knowledge, and ability to work together and with local government in order to access additional resources. In addition, the poorest of the poor among farmers are being supported in their efforts to start new farm-based income enterprises, including village-based food processing.

Natural disasters, like flooding, will strike again and threaten to undermine the courage and tenacity of farmers in Pakistan. But through the support of generous friends of HOPE, farmers in Muzaffargarh are using this respite from disaster to strengthen their resiliency, overcome the challenges they face, and prepare for future challenges.

A new crop and new hope for families who lost everything during the flooding of 2014.