Pakistan: Cutting losses

In the rural areas of Pakistan, fodder cutting machines are used every day by farmers and their families for preparation of fodder for the livestock they own. But a simple act of preparing livestock food has resulted in injuries caused while operating these machines. The ICRC together with its partners, the Indus Hospital and the Chal Foundation, established a rehabilitation center in district Muzaffargarh of Punjab in March 2014. Soon after, they realized that there is an ever increasing caseload of people with upper limb amputation, the majority of which are caused by fodder cutting machines – a household item in rural Punjab.

As a first step, this awareness-raising documentary was produced for all relevant government and non-government stakeholders, to address and highlight the severity of this issue that has largely gone unnoticed.

When the ICRC and its partners further investigated the matter, it was revealed that the automated fodder cutting machine used in the rural areas does not have any safety features nor do people have any awareness as to the safe handling the machine – resulting in injuries, lives being disrupted and dreams being shattered. It was also very clear that in a country whose economy is based on agriculture with the majority the population living in rural settings, the injury statistics from Muzaffargarh and neighbouring districts are just the tip of the iceberg. Thus, the ICRC and its partners, decided to raise the matter before the provincial government of Punjab in order to mobilize the concerned stakeholders to come up with a comprehensive roadmap for effectively mitigating accidents due to fodder cutting machines.

We are happy to report that the government of Punjab took action by establishing a committee comprised of the departments of Health, Agriculture, Industries and Labour to come up with a comprehensive plan involving introducing safety measures in the design of the machine and helping communities in the safe handling of these machines. For our part, the ICRC and its partners will continue to provide free physical rehabilitation services to people with physical disabilities from its centres in Muzaffargarh and 18 other locations across the country. In 2015 alone, more than 19,000 people have benefited from ICRC physical rehabilitation services across Pakistan.

A collective effort by all relevant stakeholders is the only way to avoid further losses.