ISLAMABAD: Pakistan needs to own this crisis and then get the attention of the international community, stressed the World Food Programme’s Ramiro Lopes da Silva on Monday, while warning that millions of lives are at stake in Sindh unless more attention is paid to mobilising resources.
The situation is alarming but hasn’t received the attention it deserves, the deputy executive director remarked at a press briefing on Monday.
When asked about the response from UN agencies and donors, he replied that there should be an independent assessment on the flood devastation in Pakistan to pressure donors at home and abroad. National and international public opinion needs to be mobilised to push politicians to respond to the crisis.
Right now, there is no visibility of the mobilisation of resources and emergency relief work in the flood-affected areas, he said. Meanwhile, the WFP has exceeded its target of providing life-saving food assistance to 0.5 million people in Sindh as of the end of September. Damage to roads, bridges, and infrastructure continues to challenge the delivery of humanitarian aid.
The WFP has provided almost 8,800 metric tons of monthly family food rations to nearly 608,000 people in six districts since the distributions started on September 12. The six priority districts are Badin, Mirpurkhas, Sanghar, Tharparkar, Nawabshah and Umarkot.
“The WFP plans to scale up deliveries in October to cover 2.25 million people across Sindh and Balochistan over the next four months,” he said, adding that in preparation they are contracting additional cooperating partners.
Da Silva referred to the recent National Nutritional Survey that highlights alarming levels of malnutrition in Sindh.
This is why the WFP’s one-month rations include – alongside the general family food basket – high-energy biscuits and ready-to-use supplementary food to address an expected nutritional decline among these vulnerable groups.
A joint rapid initial assessment has been conducted in 11 flooded districts of Balochistan. “Preliminary data suggests that food is the most urgent need,” he said, adding that stocks have been destroyed and access to markets has been severely hampered.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2011.