Pakistan and Mongolia

Cash grants help people before, during and after disasters

Our work in Asia

In Pakistan and Mongolia, the Red Cross and Red Crescent use cash grants to help people before, during and after disasters .

Pakistan: cash grants after floods

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 help after these crises.

After disasters, if local shops and markets are still open, the Red Crescent provides emergency cash grants to affected families. People can then buy essentials such as food and medicines and don’t have to wait for emergency aid to reach them. The money they spend also helps to keep the economy going after an emergency, speeding up recovery.

Homes and livelihoods destroyed by floods

In 2016, the Lehir district of Balochistan experienced unusually long and heavy rains, leading to severe flash floods. Over 8,500 people needed urgent assistance.

After providing immediate emergency aid, the Red Cross and Red Crescent gave cash grants of £114 to 1,060 of the worst affected families. This covered the cost of a family of seven’s food for one month, plus some extra money for other essentials such as medical care.

The Red Crescent worked with a leading mobile phone company to text people who were due to get grants. Families could then pick up their cash at any of the company’s shops across the district. Red Crescent volunteers and staff gave advice and support at the shops and via a special phone line if needed.

People got this help immediately so they did not have to sell their belongings, take children out of school or ask for financial help from neighbours. This also helps with long-term recovery. 

Cash grants improved families’ health and wellbeing

After the floods:

  • Nearly 80 per cent 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.
  • Over half of people said that without the grants they 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.

Mongolia: preparation supports a traditional way of life

For centuries, many people in the central Asian country of Mongolia lived as nomadic herders. They moved their animals regularly to get the best of the summer grass.

But this traditional lifestyle has started to change. Thousands of families have lost their animals during harsh winters and moved to cities in search of new work.

Extreme weather brings extreme challenges

During the winter of 2016/2017, Mongolia experienced a dzud, its second in two years. This extreme weather event is marked by hot, dry summers and extremely cold, snowy winters. Herders may lose their animals to hunger or not be able to travel through the snow to buy food for their livestock or themselves.

This could lead to food shortages and disease, and families who lose their livestock may no longer be able to make a living.

Cash and hay: preparing for bad weather

During the last two dzuds, the British Red Cross’ partner the Mongolian Red Cross supported people with food parcels, heating fuel and clean drinking water.

Now we are helping to prepare for future dzuds by storing supplies, such as hay for animals, in advance. They can then easily be given to herders when needed.

Using our experience in giving cash grants in emergencies, the British Red Cross supported the Mongolian Red Cross to give grants to 2,000 herder families. We also supplied animal care kits. Both will help people keep themselves and their animals going.

This is part of a new system called forecast-based financing. Using weather forecast and other scientific data, the Red Cross will help predict when help will be needed with natural disasters.

We can then take steps before the situation gets too bad. In Mongolia, this can help people make a living as herders and avoid the poverty they so often find when they move to cities.