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Nomads without livestock

Mohammad Rezwan, 24, swims one hour every other day to get food from at a World Food Programme distribution in Kashmore, Pakistan

GENERIC Pak flood photo
Many flood victims say aid has still not reached them (Truls Brekke/FAO)

Thousands of people camped out along the main road from Quetta, capital of the southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan, to Sukkur in Sindh Province, are living in primitive conditions, some with no shelter from the scorching sun. Among them are a particularly vulnerable group: nomads who have lost their livestock.

One of them is Wali Jamote, 50, who fled his village in Nasirabad District early in August. “I lost everything we had - our tent, the few clothes, shoes and utensils we possess, and worse of all my goats and a camel,” Wali told IRIN.

He and his family move every few months in search of fresh pasture: “The animals were all we had. They provided us with milk and cheese, and without them my children have gone hungry.” He said he had been given “no help at all” by any agency.

Worse still, Wali and others like him have no idea what the future holds. “Will anyone give me a camel?” he asked. He also said he had no national identity card. “Some soldiers who passed by said I could receive no help without it - but they also said that with no fixed address I was not eligible for one.”

Maurizio Giuliano, public information officer for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), played down this concern: “As regards humanitarian assistance provided by the UN and its partners, lack of an ID would not be an issue. When people need food or water to survive, humanitarians don’t ask for ID documents to be in order,” he told IRIN.

However, people like Wali are unfamiliar with the process for receiving aid. They also have no idea how losses are to be assessed or what help they will receive with recovery.

The minister for food and agriculture has told the media the loss of “agriculture and livestock runs into billions of rupees”. No schemes have yet begun to resupply livestock to flood victims, though the Pakistani government has announced it plans to compensate them in a number of ways and assist with rehabilitation.

Camel rides plan

There are no official figures on nomads, though one study, which analyses the different nomadic and pastoralist groups in the country, indicated their numbers have been declining.

“My plan is to get to Karachi once roads reopen. My brother owns a camel there and offers rides at the seaside. Perhaps I can join him and get enough cash to buy my own animals,” said Wali. He said he had taken his camels to the seaside to earn cash by giving rides before, “but this life is not for me in the longer term”.

For those totally dependent on their animals the losses mean they must find alternative livelihoods. This is especially difficult for people like Wali, who have no readily marketable skills, and no savings, to fall back on.

“We live a simple life. We carry our home on our camels, as we move from place to place and live from day to day. But now we have lost our home, our animals and our freedom. I have no idea how we will survive.”

“The economic fall-out from this disaster on those affected will be catastrophic,” economist Sikander Lodhi told IRIN.

Meanwhile, aid efforts are patchy: For example in Nasirabad Division (comprising the Nasirabad and Jafarabad districts in Balochistan) only around 60 percent of the 400,000 flood-displaced persons have so far been reached with humanitarian assistance, according to an OCHA situation report of 9 September.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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