The 2010 Pakistan floods were the worst in the country’s history, devastating homes, lives and livelihoods. Oxfam worked in many flood-affected provinces delivering clean water, sanitation, hygiene supplies and cash support.
In Sindh province we provided 20,000 flood-affected families with ‘cheques’ for 5,000 Rupees (around £40) which would help support them for up to three weeks.
We decided to provide cash rather than food because many people had been displaced to cities, where food was readily available. It meant that people were also free to buy what they needed, an option which was widely welcomed.
People registered to receive their cheques, with priority given to expectant mothers, older women and the most vulnerable. Registration was accompanied by information sessions to tell people, most of who had no experience of this type of transaction, how and where to cash their cheques.
Said Razia, a resident of one of the largest emergency camps: “'With the money I bought some new clothes, food, milk for my youngest boy, and soap to wash our clothes. The children’s clothes get very dirty here.”
Besides buying food, medicine and necessities, many people spent their money on repaying debts they incurred when moving from their flooded homes to a place of safety. Some also put money aside to travel back to their villages to restart their lives.