The Balochistan region of Pakistan is prone to flooding, earthquakes and other natural disasters. Since 2003, the Red Cross has worked with our partners the Pakistan Red Crescent to help prepare for and respond to these crises.
After disasters, if local shops and markets are still functioning, the Red Crescent provides emergency cash grants to affected families. People can then buy essentials such as food and medicines and do not have to wait for relief supplies to reach them. Also, the money they spend helps to keep the economy going after an emergency, speeding up recovery.
Homes and livelihoods destroyed by floods
In 2016, Balochistan experienced unusually long and heavy rains, leading to severe flash floods. In Lehri – one of Pakistan’s poorest districts – 1,342 family homes were damaged or badly destroyed. Over 8,500 people needed urgent assistance.
The Red Crescent immediately provided emergency relief supplies including tents, kitchen equipment, soap, toothbrushes, tarpaulins and containers for clean water.
The Red Cross and Red Crescent also gave cash grants to the people worst affected.
How the cash emergency cash support worked
Red Crescent teams assessed damage to homes and met affected families to determine their immediate needs. They then worked with a leading mobile phone company that has shops across Lehri District to transfer the cash directly to affected people. Each selected shop could provide money for 150 to 200 families daily.
Grant recipients were sent a text on their mobile phones that included a unique code. They then visited one of the shops and presented the code along with their national identity card to receive the cash. Red Crescent volunteers and staff gave advice and support at the outlets and via a special phone line if needed.
Based on an average family’s monthly spending on food and health care, we supplied a cash grant worth approximately £114 to 1,060 families. This covered the cost of a family of seven’s food for one month plus some extra money for medical care, seeds and tools, or materials for home repairs.
People got this help immediately so they did not have to sell their own limited assets, take children out of school or ask for financial help from neighbours. This also helps with long-term recovery.
Family health and wellbeing improved
After the floods, nearly 80 per cent of people said that their families’ health and nutrition got better thanks to the grants.
Over half said that the cash helped them restart their farms or businesses. More than a third reported that the grants helped them access medical care.
If they had not had the grants, over half of people would have had to borrow money and a quarter would have had to sell their belongings to cope.
In the future, the Red Crescent plans to use cash grants to help more people keep going during emergencies and recover as quickly as possible.