Texting Empowers Pakistanis

Dhheadshot Dave Hartman, Save the Children, internet marketing and communications specialist

Westport, CT

Friday, October 8, 2010

In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, it quickly became apparent that text messaging could be used by charities as a powerful fundraising tool. Save the Children, UNICEF and the Red Cross, among others, recieved significant donations to support our response to the crisis. Cell phone

Well here at Save the Children, we've figured out a new way to harness the power of text messaging and mobile devices in order to empower those affected by a disaster. We’ve implemented a text-messaging response service in Pakistan to handle any issues that might arise with our aid distribution.

How does it work?

We set up “hubs” in Sindh, Punjab, Swat and DI Khan provinces, where people can call or text a suggestion or complaint about our health clinics and distribution centers. Once a comment is received, we circulate it to the relevant team who devise a way to implement the suggestion or address the complaint.

Every one of our Monitoring and Evaluations officers carries a cell phone dedicated solely to this suggestion/complaint hotline. (The Monitoring and Evaluations team make sure programs are running smoothly and efficiently.)

We also have a database set up where each and every complaint is filed so we know:

  1. What the complaint was
  2. How it was resolved

This revolutionary concept will allow us to ensure that our efforts have the greatest possible benefit for the flood-affected children of Pakistan. It also empowers Pakistanis to have input into the relief and rebuilding process, something that is crucial to getting those affected back to living normal lives.

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Learn more about our emergency response to the flooding in Pakistan

Help Us Respond to the Pakistan Flood Emergency. Please Donate Now.

Mind-Boggling Destruction in South Punjab

Friday, August 27, 2010 

Save the Children's Reporting Coordinator in Pakistan

After spending three weeks in the cold mountainous Swat
valley, I arrived in the hot and humid climate of Multan to work
alongside Save the Children teams working in the worst affected
districts of Muzaffargarh, Rajanpur and Dera Ghazi Khan. The floods
arrived here a week after the showers began in late July. There were
reports of nearly 300,000 people displaced overnight. There was also
news of entire villages living on the highways and in government
schools of Muzaffargarh and Multan. However, none of the reports came
close to the reality on ground.


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Displaced by flooding her village, Sakina camps at the side of the road with her 10 children and goat
Photo Courtesy Jason Tanner

Destruction in Muzaffargarh


The sight of makeshift shelters and tents begins at
xthe border of Muzaffargarh and Multan districts. Long lines of men,
women and children are found loitering on both sides of the busy
traffic. Besides those displaced from remote areas, people of nearby
villages are also found on the highway – their dilapidated homes
visible a few meters away.  It is mind-boggling to consider the
populations affected by the floods. In the district of Kot Addo the
lives of approximately 112,000 men, women and children have been
disrupted. These vast numbers of people do not have food, shelter,
clothing, access to health care and have completely lost their
livelihoods due to the floods. They will certainly require assistance
in the coming months, if not years, to not only resettle and establish
their lives but also to rejuvenate their income generating activities.


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Imtiaz, 25, with her 2-day-old unnamed baby
Photo Courtesy Jason Tanner

Relief to Brahimwala

Save the Children is the first NGO that has provided
food rations here. The packages include wheat, lentils, cooking oil,
micronutrient biscuits as well as tents, jerry cans, water buckets and
blankets to people who have lost their homes in district Muzaffargarh.
During one such distribution to the village of Brahimwala, I learned
how the villagers had departed from their homes in haste to reach safe
ground 25 kilometers away in the city of Muzaffargarh. There were no
registration points or information centers available for the displaced
to receive aid. They spent many days under the open sun before finding
temporary shelters on open grounds, roads and rampantly setup camps.
Food and drinking water distribution was irregular and chaos erupted
each time a truck arrived with provisions.

Unfortunately, the urban poor who live in shantytowns
of Muzaffargarh and Multan had joined the displaced to fight for
whatever donations they could lay their hands on. The needs are so
great.

As soon as the waters receded displaced people
returned to their homes. Although, most villages are still submerged
with the flood’s deluge of putrid water and mud, families have pitched
up tents alongside roads and canals. Water in Brahimwala has withdrawn,
demolishing each and every house in the village. The conditions are
appalling but with nowhere else to turn, people are living amidst mud,
flies and the remains of their houses squashed on the ground. The murky
flood waters and searing heat has worsened the dismal condition and
have increased the prevalence of diseases like diarrhea, malaria, skin
and respiratory infections.

Each and every member of Save the Children realizes
that an intense and continued support is essential to normalize the
lives of flood-affected people in Pakistan.



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Shamim,45, mourns the death of her four children and husband.

Photo Courtesy Jason Tanner

Living Under the Pakistan Open Sky in the Rain

Monday, August 9, 2010 

Save the Children's Reporting Coordinator in Pakistan

Hussain, age 65, is from a small village in southern Punjab. He has lost all his belongings and now lives under the open sky without shelter. He has lost hope.

“We were sitting on a high patch of ground expecting that we would not be touched by flood waters. Suddenly, we saw that the water was gradually rising so I decided to take my family and animals to a safer place,” said Hussain.

“I did not get a chance to pick up any other belongings. The flood waters swept away all our food, clothes, utensils and other household items.”

Hussain-bakhash

“Along with my family, I walked five hours to the railroad station, which is on high ground. For three days no one provided us food. We don’t have clothes to replace the ones we are wearing. Due to continuous rain, all our clothes are wet,” said Hussain, his eyes welling up with tears.

Now, as he sits on the ground, under the open sky in the rain, he expects some miracle to happen so that he can to return to a normal life.

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Learn more about our emergency response to the flooding in Pakistan
Help Us Respond to the Pakistan Flood Emergency. Please Donate Now.