Arikap is a remote village located in Pakistan’s Jacobabad district. Life for Arikap’s 1,000 residents can be precarious and the risks of poverty are great. Education levels are low—only 3% of women in the village are literate, compared to 10% of men. Severe flooding during the rainy season devastates livelihoods because most people are farmers, growing wheat and rice for income.
In 2012, the floods were particularly bad, leaving behind long-term damage to roads, houses, and crops. HelpAge Pakistan formed an Older People’s Association (OPA) in the village to help the local community better prepare for future disasters. Together with our local partner, the Sindh Rural Support Organization, the OPA developed a Village Disaster Risk Reduction Plan, training villagers on disaster risk management measures, stockpiling emergency supplies, and coordinating evacuation strategies.
Ghulam Mustafa testing the ropes that pull the boats between key access points
Ghulam Mustafa, an OPA volunteer, took the trainings to heart and got to work putting the lessons he learned into practice. Ghulam, an older person with a physical disability, wanted to make sure that emergency plans considered people’s needs across age and disability.
He led a team of young and older people in the community to construct boats out of locally-available material such as wooden panes, plastic drums, ropes, and tractor tubes. When roads were flooded during the rainy season, such a boat could make all the difference for getting people to safety.
The project ensures that villagers will have a way to reach out for assistance. In subsequent floods, they have used the boats to get food and supplies from the city. The increased contact has led to greater support from local humanitarian organizations. Many have begun providing livelihood assistance to poor Arikap villagers, particularly affected by the flooding.
“Before we had no way to establish communication with nearby cities and access service facilities during times of emergency. We are so thankful to HelpAge International who gave us the skills we needed to build boats. Through these skills, we’re able to mitigate the impacts of natural disasters on our village.” - Ghulam Mustafa