Surveying the Aftermath and Providing Relief to Communities in Upper Swat

August 3, 2010 

Save the Children's Reporting Coordinator in Pakistan

For the past two days, Save the Children teams have been working round the clock to provide immediate relief to the flood-affected communities in Swat Valley, Pakistan. As the water has begun to recede, the sheer scale of this disaster is coming to light. Every time we receive news of the numbers affected, we become more and more committed to respond to this crisis with all our strength and capacity.    

Yesterday, two teams of Save the Children staff ventured in different directions to learn the full extent of the damages and map out accessible routes for provision of shelter kits and food rations. One team crossed over to the western side of River Swat into UC Tirat by sitting inside a small cart pulled through a simple rope-pulley apparatus over a fifty meter drop with raging waters below. They learned that thousands of acres of farmland have been ruined and vast numbers of livestock have been swept away by the flood waters. Food shortages are becoming more acute every day – a single bag of wheat is now being sold for 1,100 rupees (double the usual price).     

Reuters/Faisal Mahmood, courtesy A child lay crying in a hammock after flood victims shifted to camps to take refuge after their homes were destroyed in Nowshera. The worst floods in memory in Pakistan have affected more than 3 million people so far and claimed the lives of more than 1,400 people.
Reuters/Faisal Mahmood, courtesy

The other team reached Madyan and attended a meeting of government officials, army and community influentials to discuss the emergency response. The market in Madyan now only has a few days stock of rice, cooking oil and lentils remaining. Attempts are being made to control the prices and keep them at affordable levels. There are also plans to transport essential food items on mules from UC Fatehpur.    

The team also met people who had been walking from Bahrain for half a day to reach Madyan. They described the worsening situation in the city and the urgent need for food and health care. A few families had walked for two days from Kalam – the farthest most affected city in Upper Swat. They were hosted overnight by strangers in the village of Asreeth. Their stories from Kalam were published in Pakistan’s newspaper today, you can read them here.  

Save the Children began distribution of shelter items to families who have lost their homes in UC Fatehpur. However, heavy rains took place today, stalling the distribution process since the beneficiaries were walking over hills and dirt paths to reach our center. Save the Children been selected as one of the partners with the World Food Program (WFP) to begin food distribution in Swat.   

Reuters/Adrees Latif, courtesy

A family carries relief supplies on train tracks back to their homes after flood waters receded in Nowshera, located in Pakistan' s northwest Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province.
Reuters/Faisal Mahmood, courtesy

I’ve also been speaking non-stop on the phone from 9 a.m. till 9 p.m. with various TV networks and journalists from around the world to report on the situation in Swat. A CNN team was supposed to arrive today but was held back due to bad weather conditions. As they say in Paksitan InshAllah (God willing), the international community will fulfill its obligations for the relief of the flood-affected people in time.  


  1. There are also plans to transport essential food items on mules from UC Fatehpur.

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