Strengthening self-help initiatives during and after the disaster

medico’s partner HANDS was ready to act immediately

When Pakistan was overwhelmed by floods along the Indus and other regions in August 2010, medico’s partner HANDS (Health and Nutrition Development Society) was one of the first civil society organisations on the scene.

In the Sindh region HANDS evacuated tens of thousands of people trapped by the floods, quickly set up camps to ensure their survival and is now supporting the return of the refugees. This was possible because HANDS had been working in the poor regions affected by the disaster for decades and was able to mobilise thousands of volunteers rapidly.

HANDS was just one of many other civil society organisations in Pakistan that demonstrated their capacity to act during disasters. medico was able to provide considerable amounts of money for HANDS due to the overwhelming generosity and solidarity shown by German donors. It had previously had contacts with health and community-based organisations over many years via the People’s Health Movement. HANDS’ approach to emergency relief is based on both providing basic health care and supporting flood victims to organise themselves. As a result of this shared approach and the shared understanding that health is a basic human right, the work carried out by medico and HANDS to deal with the disastrous flood in Pakistan has become a paradigm for a critical understanding of emergency relief work.

Published: 15. September 2011

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