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Initiative helps flood-hit women fight poverty

By Malik Tahseen Raza

MUZAFFARGARH: Kalsoom Mai, 40, lost her husband Ghulam Husain to the mighty Indus when the flood hit her village Sarkiwala in Alipur tehsil in 2010.

The village is located just a kilometre east of Indus. After the flood, Kalsoom faced displacement, disease and acute poverty for months, but now her hard days are over. She is working on an ‘all widow project’ and earning money. Mauza Sarki’s all paths are now being brick lined and all sideways are green.

Kalsoom and dozens of other widows are working on a community infrastructure improvement project and are brick lining pathways of their village. The project is funded by a private bank and supervised by a non-government organisation.

Kalsoom told Dawn many women lost their husbands to floods and ensuing diseases. She said five women’s husbands died of snake bite.

“This project has brought economic empowerment for us,” she said. Under the project, she said, funds were being provided by the Tameer Micro Finance Bank and logistic support by Awaz Foundation.

She said widows working on the project brick lined 240-metre pathway every day. Women working on the project were paid through the bank and they had also been given health insurance.

Seeing their active involvement in the development of the area, some donors have installed solar water plants for farmers.

Awaz Foundation Chief Executive Ziaur Rehman said the organisation built 1,500 shelters in the locality and installed 19 solar pumps for tubewells. But all these initiatives may go waste if flood strikes the village again.

The irrigation department failed to make the spurs along the Sarki area and now the Indus water is threatening the area.