Natural disasters: Up to 5m people at risk again this year

By PPI
Published: August 3, 2011

Flood victims, including Mohammed Farhan, 12, and Allah Dita, 64, look to escape in Daya Chokha Gharbi village; and (R) Farhan and Dita, nearly one year later, with residents from the same village in the same location. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: 

One year on from the worst ever floods to hit Pakistan, World Vision calls for relief efforts to be ramped up for at least another year just to get families back to their pre-flood level of living.

Last year’s floods, which affected more than 20 million people, were the fourth major emergency to hit the country in almost as many years: from Kashmir earthquake in 2005 to widespread flooding across South Asia in 2007 and a refugee exodus, after the outbreak of conflict, in 2009.

Head of World Vision Pakistan, Alexander Davey, said: “Pakistan sits on frontline of disasters, and communities already living in extreme poverty are simply not being given time to recover from the last blow they were dealt. World Vision aid workers even have children asking them when the next flooding will start – as last year’s emergency aid gave people more than they have ever had before, and much more than the lives they are returning to now.”

Flooding washed away crops, destroyed 5.4 million acres of land and, as food prices rise, child malnutrition increased to about 25 per cent in the worst-hit areas like Sindh.

World Vision is responding to Sindh’s high malnutrition rates through community-based nutrition sessions and is setting up more than 20 mobile clinics – often the only form of healthcare on offer. In the past year the aid agency reached an estimated 1.5 million people with food distributions, clean drinking water, hygiene kits, blankets, shelter and by establishing women, infant friendly spaces across three provinces.

Yet, as the monsoon rains and melting mountain snow cause river levels to rise, up to five million people could be at risk once again. Families are being asked to prepare for evacuation in case river banks, damaged by last year’s flood, do not hold.

Alexander said: “Pakistan’s cycle of disasters create a generational impact that is hard to break – with schools damaged or teachers lost, children drop out of education; what’s left of belongings often needs to be sold off; families become increasingly sick as they have less to eat but must work more. How can you afford to start rebuilding your home, when there’s no money to put food in your child’s mouth? One year on, Pakistan’s most vulnerable are barely even starting out on the long road to recovery.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2011.

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