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Northwest Pakistan: flood-affected farmers rush to plant before winter

24-11-2010 News Footage Ref. V F CR F 01075 A

TV news footage transmitted via Eurovision  23.11.2010 between 12.00 and 13.00 GMT
For access to the ICRC FTP and information on footage:
Jan Powell, ICRC Geneva, + 41 792519314  or  e-mail


As winter approaches in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KP) and the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA), northwest Pakistan, farmers are in a race against time to plough fields and sow seeds before the drop in temperature prevents them germinating.  For those living on the banks of the mighty Swat River, the challenge is exacerbated by a range of natural problems resulting from the devastating floods in July.

In some cases, the floods swept away entire swathes of agricultural land. Today, where once good arable land provided entire families with regular crops, a new branch of the river has formed or vast areas have become barren, the soil littered with heavy stones and sand brought by the raging torrents. .

Those farmers lucky enough to have only lost their crops and who still have a plot of land to work, fear that the soil has been irreparably damaged. They say that the once rich and brown soil has turned grey and hard and that green shoots are not returning.  

According to Azam Gul, a 55 year-old farmer in Kamala village, Lower Dir District: "The waters brought a lot of clay, now I don't know what to do with this layer 15-centimetre thick that covers the land." Azam will have to till the land before sowing and this will embed the clay deeply into the soil. "I am not sure that my next harvest will be successful. Inch'Allah, if we remain courageous and hard-working, we will manage" , he says.

Throughout KP and FATA, the ICRC with its partner the PRCS has identified 30,000 families in dire need of help in rebuilding their livelihoods. These families lost their crops after the floods washed away their fields. In other instances, they had to flee the fighting, with no choice but to leave behind their crops. By the end of November, the ICRC in close cooperation with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society will have distributed to each family 30 kg of wheat seeds, 100 kg of fertilizers and a set of hand tools. 20,000 more families in Baluchistan will benefit from the same aid in the coming days.

Many families have become poorer as a result of losing their main source of income and food. Less cash is flowing into the community and the meagre resources left are spent on  repairing damaged homes or on day to day survival.. Akbar Hussein, another farmer in Kamala village and Said's neighbour and friend, had to send two of his sons to Iran to work on fishing trawlers to make ends meet. Akbar explains: "Usually, 100 young men work as fishermen in Karachi or Iranian Balochistan. This year they are around 300. This is painful but there is no other way."

Akbar recounts: "We live in a beautiful region but it is as if  the place has been heavily shelled. No living soul here has ever witnessed such a disaster. People are confused, and afraid of the future, especially as some villagers have found dead bodies while removing rocks and sand. This is not good."

By the end of the year the ICRC / PRCS will have helped 1.4 million people affected by the floods. Hundreds of thousands of people have also been displaced by fighting in FATA areas. Since 2009 the ICRC and Pakistan Red Crescent Society has been helping the displaced
and intend to help them return to their homes and rebuild their lives.


0000 Aerial shot of Swat River near Khadagzai town, Lower Dir District, (taken on September 1, 2010)

0034 Aerial shot of broken bridge over Swat River near Khadagzai town (Lower Dir District), close to Kamala village (taken on September 1, 2010) and part of the bridge lying on riverbed

0047 Same bridge shot from ground (taken on November 11, 2010)

0055 Same piece of bridge from ground

0101 Destroyed buildings by Dir River in Timergara town (Lower Dir District)

0107 Close shot of workers in the rubble

0113 Telephone tower on the verge of collapsing in Timergara town

0117 CS of same tower

0126 Structure of bridge in riverbed

0132 Workers removing stones and sand in riverbed near Kamala village, where agricultural field stood before flood

0138 MS of same location

0144 MS of former agricultural land littered with stones

0152 CS of same place with damaged house in background

0158 Herd of goats

0208 People crossing new river branch

0212 Same (MS)

0219 Same (WS)

0232 ICRC convoy arriving in Kamala (WS)

0243 ICRC convoy (MS)

0249 ICRC convoy reaching distribution point (WS)

0254 Same (MS)

0259 Truck entering site with people in background

0305 People at distribution site

0310 Registration (Pan right to left)

0316 Same (MS)

0321 People proceeding to trucks

0326 Same

0331 Same

0336 Backs of trucks aligned and being offloaded

0341 Same (CS)

0346 Workers offloading trucks

0400 Old people sat on ground waiting to be called

0404 One elderly waiting

0409 Beneficiaries waiting

0414 Distribution starts (names are called out)

0421 One beneficiary comes to get his package

0424 CS on hands holding distribution cards

0427 Akbar Hussein (left) and Said Gul waiting for their packages

0432 CS on Akbar

0436 The two same men waiting

0441 Said is up before his package

0444 Akbar helps Said with bag of fertilizer

0500 Akbar brings the tools

0503 Bag of fertilizer being loaded in pick up

0509 Akbar gets in pick up

0514 Akbar and Said at rear of pick up. Pick up leaves the place

0522 River shot from pick up on the move

0531 Tractor doing plough work (cultivation)

0541 Same different angle

0545 Bag of seeds open and Akbar goes to ploughed field to start sowing

05 56 Said and Akbar sowing

06 04 Akbar sowing

0610 ITW Akbar Hussein (Urdu)

First quote 19"
As a result of these  floods, our crops were totally destroyed. We have also had other losses due to the destruction of trees and gardens. We lived off the income generated from these items. But they were all lost in the disaster..  

Second quote 29"
We depend upon income from the crops and these crops were lost along with our hopes. Even before the floods, one of my sons had already been sent to Iran to work  on a trawler. Because we don’t have enough  money, we had to send another son to Iran to make ends meet..

06 59 Said walking in a field that had been flooded

0704 ITW Said Gul (Pashto) 35"
Take a look at this soil: you can see that it is totally damaged from the flood. We are above all dependent on this land. And this is the land of our fathers and forefathers. (18) We have to work the land and harvest crops. It is the only land that we possess, there is no other source of income. (29) This land is like my mother and father.

0739 Said and Akbar chatting

0743 Same (CS)

07 48 Said and Akbar walking together

0756 GV of village

0803 MS on kids

0810 Farmers cleaning rice grains with ventilators (3 shots)

0829 ITW Pascal Cuttat, ICRC head of delegation in Pakistan (English) 15"
We have assisted about 1.4 million people.(affected by floods) We will have done that by the end of the year, that's the plan and it's now time to concentrate and focus again on the people affected by the fighting particularly in the northwest of the country.

Hundreds of thousands remain displaced due to fighting out of the FATA. And what is clear is that everybody wants to go home, their homes are not in camps and life in camps is not nice. However, it is important for them to know whether security is there where they go back, whether livelihoods can be built up again, where they go back, and therefore their return needs to be voluntary. As far as we are concerned we are willing to accompany them back to where they are going as well because their lives need to be rebuilt.  

0920 ENDS

For further information, please contact
the following ICRC media spokespersons:

Michael O'Brien, ICRC Pakistan, tel: + 92 300 850 8138
Didier Revol, ICRC Pakistan, tel: + 92 300 8529
Sitara Jabeen, ICRC Pakistan, tel: + 92 300 850 5693
Christian Cardon, ICRC Geneva, tel:
+ 41 22 730 24 26 / + 41 79 251 93 02

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  • Copyright: ICRC Access All
  • Release year: 2010
  • Production locations: North West Pakistan Lower Dir District
  • Running time: 9'20
  • Languages available: (Sound) English, Urdu, Pashto
  • Reference: V F CR F 01075 A