By Kamran Chaudhry, Communications Officer, Caritas Pakistan
Villagers living on eastern river belt say Caritas Pakistan’s disaster management course helped them in surviving the recent flash floods.
“I used a tire tube to escape the 20 feet water wave. It was noise and panic everywhere. Several snakes were also among the floating bushes but I escaped somehow. It was as if the river has changed into sea”, said Abrar Khan.
Khan, 18, is one of the alumni of the community based disaster preparedness programme organised by the local unit of Caritas Pakistan in Faisalabad diocese in Peepli Wala, Punjab province.
The village was inundated early August after the nearby River Chenab swelled with water. The scattered population of 250 lives about 2 km from the river.
Khan returned after a month and helped in transporting luggage and even people from one encampment to another. “We were briefed about evacuation plans, rescuing, providing first aid and preparing rafts. Many didn’t take it seriously at first and only 30 attended but the programme actually helped in a lot of ways”, Khan added.
Similarly Mehr Zulfiqar Ali, another Muslim farmer, praised the Caritas initiative. “My younger brother was caught in the high tide. One of the rescuers from Caritas Pakistan’s course saved him. It helped us with guidelines and food”, said Ali.
Caritas Pakistan has been conducting disaster preparedness trainings in a high flood risk areas since 2008. 1210 people participated in the 27 such courses held last year all over the country.
“People know less about the utilities of simple things like tire tubes in times of flood. The programme reduces the risks and threats from disasters and is very popular at grass root level due its participatory approach”, said Amin Babar Disaster Management Programme Coordinator of Caritas Pakistan in Faisalabad.