We are deeply worried about the very real possibility of a wave of death and disease which is already stretching its tentacles. A second disaster is looming in sight – health, nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene is of critical concern.
Outbreaks of watery diarrhea, typhoid and malaria are increasing rapidly as millions of people sleep in temporary shelters or in the open in close proximity to stagnating water. Over 134,000 cases of diarrhea and 44,000 cases of malaria were reported in the hardest hit area of Sindh just this past week. People are exposed to deadly diseases like dengue, diarrhea, malaria, gangrene and other skin issues.
Right now, the data is not accurate because we still don’t have the complete picture. We only have parts of it – but it is alarming. We need to raise the alarm now and not wait for mortality figures. We can mitigate these numbers if we prioritize health, respond fast and in a coordinated manner.
Children are particularly vulnerable. 6 children died in Sindh yesterday in just one day. Millions of children are still grappling to survive, and we fear thousands will not make it. The catastrophic floods uprooted more than 3.4 million children from their homes and claimed more than 550 children. The risks to children’s lives and survival are multiplying by the day. Many children have dengue, acute respiratory infections, painful skin infections and other ailments. At the health camps, we are now witnessing a rise in cases of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Children require psycho-social support and recreation to reduce the effects of flood trauma. It is just not about relief but recovery, we have to make sure that we see them through to wellness.
Basic survival is a challenge –food, drinking water, shelter, medical health, and fodder remain the need of the hour. If we leave them now, they will die.
Most of the food families had stored was washed away in the floods. Without food, many mothers have become anaemic and malnourished and have very low-weight babies. Many have difficulties breastfeeding, which is the safest form of nutrition for infants. The floods washed away more than 3.5 million acres of arable land. This will exacerbate food insecurity issues across the country.
More than 50 per cent of the water supply systems were damaged in the floods. Families are surrounded by pools of stagnant water poisoned with fertilizers and faeces and swarming with diseases and viruses. An estimated 1.5 million people across four provinces need water sanitation and hygiene assistance. Press
They are left defenceless as nearly 2,000 health facilities have been fully or partially damaged, their supplies damaged, and people have moved away from home, making it even harder for them to access their normal health services.
The devastation of the flood waters is ongoing and unfolding on a daily basis. The humanitarian situation remains dire in flood-affected areas of Pakistan, with widespread damage to physical infrastructure and ongoing harm to people and livestock. Large parts of the flood-affected areas are still submerged under water and thousands of families in the 82 impacted districts are still cut off and are yet to receive any form of aid.
A lot is being done but much more is needed. This is bigger than us – the needs are colossal. When we launched the flash appeal, it was done to address immediate needs. And even though the pledges have crossed $ 160 million, we now realize that the original appeal was not sufficient. We’re working with the government to revise the appeal in the coming weeks in light of the changing and growing needs.
The General Assembly is ongoing, and it is encouraging to see references being made to climate justice and the support of the international community. We look forward to their enhanced and continued support. It is also extremely heartening to see people helping people and the international solidarity being shown from all across the world to help Pakistan.
The Government of Pakistan is leading the humanitarian response – assessing the needs, providing relief and coordinating the aid assistance while ensuring transparency and accountability, both financial and accountability to affected populations. The Government of Sindh has constituted a parliamentary committee to review and provide oversight to national and international flood response progress to report back to the Provincial Assembly of Sindh within six months.
The United Nations and humanitarian organizations (34 international NGOs under the banner of the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF), 70 national NGOs under the banner of National Humanitarian Network (NHN)) are supporting the Government strategically from the national to the district level complementing the activities by supporting the most vulnerable communities with relief items, social and communal protection. They are also providing logistical and coordination support, data collection and analysis.
Recent surveys confirm that monsoon rains made worse by climate change led to flash floods in the mountainous parts of Pakistan, and widespread flooding in the plains. The world needs to come together and work towards climate change mitigation, otherwise the helpless situation we find ourselves in will be repeated in other parts of the world as well.
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