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After flooding, Pakistanis struggle to live off land and livestock

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Post-flood farming woes in Pakistan
  • The United Nations has been trucking in seed and animal feed
  • The U.N. wants to wean people off food aid
  • In some areas, floods are still adding to the displaced
  • Pakistan

Hassan Khail, Pakistan (CNN) -- The white bags land with a thud, a small cloud of dust billowing around them. But for Pakistanis like Tariq Jan, the simple sack may as well be gold.

Each 30-kilogram sack contains enough animal feed to keep a donkey satisfied for a month. Without the United Nations donations, Tariq Jan would have no chance of restarting the life that he lost, washed away by the massive flooding that began in Pakistan almost two months ago.

He used to own more than 40 animals. But many of them died when his house and his land drowned under torrents of gushing water. His family depends on the milk from the cows.

"They have gotten much thinner," he said of his animals. "I am having a lot of trouble getting anything to eat for them."

The floodwaters submerged about 10 million acres, much of it in Punjab province, Pakistan's breadbasket, where people live off the soil and their livestock.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has been trucking in animal feed and seeds to plant anew.

"We have to try and and get seeds in here and make sure they can get off food aid as fast as possible," the group's Truls Brekke said of the flood survivors.

Tariq Jan used to profit from several acres of syrupy sugar cane. But now, without any help, it will take perhaps five years before he can clear the sludge and see new shoots again.

But even the food aid is falling short.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced a few days ago that the United Nations is seeking another $1.594 billion for flood victims, bringing the total to more than $2 billion. The world body has received about 70 percent of the $460 million it initially requested.

Farther south in Sindh, the floods are still adding to the ranks of the homeless.

Every day, the United Nations is seeing 20,000 to 30,000 more people who have just lost their homes to rising waters. In all, more than 20 million people were affected by the floods.

Waters from Lake Manchar are overflowing in five directions. Some people are referring to it as a "lake burst," said Fawad Hussain, a U.N. relief coordinator for Sindh.

"First we had the rain, then the waters from the river and now the lake," Hussain said. "We have not been able to scale up [the response] as quickly in the far south due to lack of funding."

There are people marooned in Pakistani villages who are still waiting for help.

"The monsoon rains may be over, but the floods are not," said Andro Shilakadze of UNICEF.

CNN's Fred Pletigen contributed to this report.