SWAT: The floods destroyed their homes and fields; militancy drove them out of their homes, leaving everything behind; and then they had to bear the harsh lives in camps, only to return to their wrecked hometowns. The people of Swat have been through some testing times.
An estimated 4,000 houses in Swat Valley were destroyed by the floods in 2010, of which 80 per cent were destroyed in northern parts of the valley alone.
There is much to be done in the valley to help it thrive as it used to, but a few villages of Madyan — where over 90 per cent of houses and agricultural lands were destroyed by the floods —have ironically came out more fortunate in the aftermath.
With the help of two non-government organisations (NGOs), the villagers of Drabo, Aryana, Damana and Qandeel have constructed 145 new homes in their areas. With reconstruction work almost complete, all they ask is from the government to rehabilitate their lands to jumpstart their livelihoods.
“Everything got washed away in the floods: our belongings, our lands, our animals. The only thing we managed to save was our lives,” said Syed Fursan, a resident of Aryana village. He said life in camps for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) was quite difficult. “[The camps] were cold in the winters, immensely warm in summers, and there was never enough space,” he said.
“Given the scale of the destruction, we did not believe we could reconstruct our villages. But with the help from the NGOs I think we have done a tremendous job”.
Mohmmad Yousuf, also a local of Aryana village, said the NGOs helped us irrespective of political affiliation and they thank them for it. “Providing shelter to our families in form of such a fine house is a huge assistance,” he added.
Shifting into his new house along with his 16 family members, Behram Khan, 75, a resident of Drabo village, said he is “finally content”. However, he criticised the government for failing to help the villagers, adding that he got only Rs40,000 from Watan Cards in the past two years.
Sitting along with her brother outside a newly constructed house in Drabo village, Shumaila, a grade-two student, seemed ecstatic. “Mother says we will shift in our new house in two days,” the girl said with delight.
“I like our new house; it’s not like our old one [in the camp] which was hot and small.”
Efforts to help construct houses in the four worst-affected villages in Swat were undertaken on merit based on the scale of disaster by Sarhad Rural Support Program, in collaboration with Imran Khan Foundation.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2012.