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August 31, 2006

Emergency Food Distribution

This should be my last Pakistan-based blog entry. As a result of heavier than expected monsoon rains falling on ground destabilised by last year’s earthquake, many people in the mountains around Balakot have lost their homes and their food, and have no money to restock food for the families. Those who took in relatives and friends who lost their homes also used up all their foodstocks quickly. This was the situation we heard about through our partner organisation, INSAN’s, contacts in the villages where we had been doing livelihood empowerment work. despite delays due to the main road to Balakot being impassable because of landslides for a week, we eventually were totally ready to go and prayed for the necessary weather one night with our collegues.

The next day dawned clear and dry, and we were able to pack up the supplies into sacks for each family who needed it: –
Packing in the wholesaler

It was hard work, stacking 272 sacks of rice, beans, salt and spices (that was my job, anyway), but not as hard as the labourers’ who had to load the trucks – 272 of the sacks of the things above, 272 cans of cooking oil, and 272 sacks of flour – this guy is carrying 3×20kg flour sacks – something us soft brits couldn’t even attempt safely: –
Loading the trucks - manual handling regulations, eat your heart out!

Of course, once we’d loaded up all the trucks (nearly 10 tonnes of food!) we trundled to where we were distributing from – an Oxfam warehouse camp near Balakot. Then we had to unload it all again, into the hands of eagerly awaiting local people who would take it up into the mountains on mules, as the jeep tracks had disappeared completely.
Unloading flour and oil

Unloading rice and other stuff

Everybody mucked in helping out – Salvation Army, INSAN, the wholesaler, the locals…
Unloading more rice and other stuff

We had some leftover food for groups that had not made it down that day, so Oxfam had agreed to keep them in their warehouse. unfortunately, it turns out they didn’t actuallly have enough room, so it ended up in someone’s tent! The photo shows the food being collected the next day: –
Final distribution from an Oxfam tent

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