ISLAMABAD: The European Union (EU) is allocating €100,000 in humanitarian funding to provide life-saving assistance to those affected by the harsh weather in the southern areas.
According to a press release, the aid will directly benefit 15,000 people in two of the hardest hit pockets in the region, Tharparkar district in Sindh and Nushki in Balochistan.
EU funding supports the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) in delivering immediate assistance through distribution of cash grants enabling affected families to purchase essential items like food and fodder for their livestock, and the provision of safe drinking water through the installation of solar-powered boreholes and storage facilities.
PRCS will also conduct hygiene and water treatment awareness activities, and a detailed needs assessment to determine long-term needs of at-risk communities in both the provinces. The funding is part of the EU's overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Following a lack of monsoon rainfall last summer, large parts of the country are presently experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions, affecting an estimated 4.4 million people.
The situation in Sindh and Balochistan is fast developing into one of the worst natural disasters the country has faced in recent years. The lack of water has hit food production systems, which is in turn affecting the health of local communities, particularly women and children.
Recent assessments have shown that as many as 71% of households in these areas are food insecure, and malnutrition rates amongst both children under five years of age and pregnant and lactating women are alarmingly high.
Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity towards people in need around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.
Through its European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the European Union helps over 120 million victims of conflicts and disasters every year. European Commission has signed a €3 million humanitarian contribution agreement with the IFRC.
Meanwhile, Balochistan Minister of Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) Mir Zia Langove, in the aftermath of the forecast of heavy rains, has cancelled the leaves of all employees and established a control room to face any untoward situation.
While speaking with reporters, Zia stated that owing to predictions of heavy rainfall, the leaves of all employees of PDMA have been cancelled. He added that the rains would bring positive effects on livestock and agriculture of the province.
Torrential rains and snowfall, which continued for the second day in many districts, have paralysed routine life in major parts of Balochistan.
Dozens of mud houses collapsed due to the heavy rains in Qilla Abdullah district for the second time in a few days, while mobile phone service was suspended in Chaman.
Weather in western Balochistan, including Quetta, turned chilly after sporadic rain and snowfall. Areas including Toba Achakzai, Toba Kakari, Ziarat, Khanozai, Kan Mehtarzai and Chaman also witnessed snowfall.
Meanwhile, people living near Chaman are still deprived of electricity as flash floods have destroyed major power towers and also affected the communication systems. The metrological department has predicted dry and cold weather for the next couple of days. (With additional input from APP)