Four children stand in front of a cow

© Sara Vaca/BRC

How is livestock bought with Red Crescent cash grants helping communities recover from years of disaster?

Devastating floods swept across much of Pakistan in 2010 and 2011. Animals such as cows, buffalo and goats were a source of money and economic safety net for communities in the affected areas. But when the water died away, many people had lost or been forced to sell their animals.

Now a Pakistan Red Crescent programme is helping people buy livestock again, restoring that financial safety net and giving them a new way of increasing their capital.

Millions affected by disaster

About 7.5 million people were affected by the 2011 floods, and over 20 million by the 2010 floods.

In the aftermath of the disasters the Pakistan Red Crescent, supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, gave 515,000 people support including shelter, health services and clean water.

But the huge impact of the floods means people are still badly affected years later.




Grants and training help people earn

The livestock project is run by the Pakistan Red Crescent, with support from the German Red Cross and co-funded by British Red Cross, in three districts of the country’s Sindh Province.

It has been set up after detailed research into the best way to improve livelihoods in the area. Experts checked that the programme was sustainable and wouldn’t be thrown off course by future disasters.

People selected for the programme are being given about 500 Euros to buy and feed an animal, and build a shelter to keep it safe. The money is given in three stages, and each portion must be spent in line with the project’s aims for more to be handed over.

Cows are by far the most popular choice. The animals provide milk and butter, which can be used by the owner’s family or sold for profit, and can also be used for ploughing.

The scheme is set to help 980 families – 500 have already benefited. Women in particular are more secure and better off.

Training is key to the programme, which is giving vital skills to communities where people sometimes struggle to get important information. They also get support from local authority veterinary services to keep their animal healthy.

Those helped still earn most of their money from types of agriculture other than farming animals. But having different sources of income makes households much more secure, because if one dries up they have another way to support the family.

If times get really tough, people can sell their animals as a last resort. But so far few have – in future breeding more livestock could be another way of making money.

Project wins praise

Recently, aid worker Sara Vaca visited the project to check its progress and see how it could be improved. The full benefits won’t arrive overnight – recovery after disasters takes time, especially when people affected were already living in poverty.

Summing up the project’s impact, Sara said: “One of the people I met had a metaphor. They said after the flood they were at 10 per cent. But now, after our support, they feel at 70 per cent.”