For more than a decade, an estimated 5 million people in Pakistan have been displaced from their homes due to Taliban-driven terrorism, military conflict, sectarian violence, human rights abuse, a situation further aggravated by natural disasters such as the 2005 earthquake and the 2010 floods. Historically, internally displaced persons (IDPs) who are victims of natural disasters have been repatriated to their homes within months of the calamities, unlike IDPs who are victims of Taliban-led terrorism and conflict, whose rehabilitation has taken years.
Government assistance has proved to be inadequate. The IDP families from Swat who were, to start with, poor and barely living hand-to-mouth, have now returned to homes in high altitude villages that are in shambles, misused by the Taliban. Families returning in the fall or winter season face immediate resettlement during the bitterly cold days of winter, when temperatures fall well below zero. Families with small children and elderly members are particularly vulnerable.
To aid the rehabilitation of vulnerable repatriating families in remote parts of District Swat, RMF Pakistan launched a new 6-month program, Winter Relief and Health Services for Rehabilitation of Returning IDPs, in the winter of 2017–2018.
Beneficiary families were selected by following an intensive 3-step protocol based on four criteria:
Each registered family was designated a case number and a means of communication was established via mobile phone, either directly with the head of household or via a proxy so that each family could be contacted with the timetable of our distribution days.
RMF staff finalized different vendors for the relief goods and established MOUs with them at the start of the project. All vendors are from the local markets in the city of Mingora, the capital of District Swat. Procured goods were transported by hired local transport vehicles to the RMF Health Project Hub clinic compound, where the project staff packed the relief items according to family requirements and labeled each box with the family case number.
Prior to each distribution, a second quality check was carried out by M&E officers. Prior to distribution, goods having cleared quality checks were transported to storage facilities in each UC. Each storage facility had its own security guard.
Five monthly distributions took place from December 2017 to April 2018. The distributions, carried out by the RMF field staff, were scheduled during the first week of every month and took an average of 4–5 days to complete. Beneficiary families were informed well in advance to ensure their presence on distribution day.
Our protocol was to hand over goods only to the designated head of family who would present his or her original identity card to tally with our records. We did not give packages to substitute representatives. By our third distribution, we had begun recognizing their faces.
Fortunately, during our beneficiary selections and assessments stage, it was clear that shelter was not required, as most families had made their homes habitable. However, the floor surfaces required waterproof plastic floor mats and carpets for insulation.
A monthly food ration package for a family of 5–6 members included the following uncooked items: flour, rice, cooking oil, tea, powdered milk, sugar, lentils, spices/salt, and matchboxes.
RMF chose the more tedious path of taking the sizes of every member of each family and purchasing clothing accordingly. This meant that not a single piece of clothing went to waste.
777 family hygiene kits were distributed. The components of the family kit were as follows:
Total MHM (Menstrual Hygiene Management) kits distributed during the project period were 1,050. The composition of each MHM kit was as follows:
Staffed by a Lady Health Visitor (LHV) and a Medical Technician, this clinic operates 3 OPD days a week on-site and conducts 12 monthly outreach OPD visits at the other three UCs of the project sites, thus providing the requisite healthcare services. Beneficiaries included registered families and other vulnerable populations from UCs Madyan, Bashigran, Bahrain, and Beha.
Over 5 months of the project period, December 2017 to April 2018, the health center provided healthcare services to 3,256 community members. Primary health care consisted of 2,972 consultations. Maternal and reproductive health services consisted of 1,273 consultations.
Real Medicine Foundation arrived in Pakistan in late 2005, and has since continued to provide humanitarian support to internally displaced persons (IDPs), underserved communities, and vulnerable groups. Building on local relationships and expertise developed through our recent earthquake relief and ongoing health clinic project in District Swat, RMF Pakistan began a 6-month program to assist IDP families returning to their homes in high-altitude, remote areas of District Swat. The program has been made possible by support from LDS Charities and targets 162 of the most vulnerable IDP families repatriated to District Swat within the previous 2–3 months.
777 households consisting of 5,418 beneficiaries were reached.