Six months after the devastating floods hit Sindh and parts of Balochistan, millions are still struggling to survive, according to a coalition of agencies monitoring the situation.
Representatives of national and international agencies came together to discuss the existing and upcoming challenges for Pakistan’s flood-hit communities.
With the monsoons fast approaching and a slow response from international donors, agencies fear that severe needs will remain unmet.
“Millions will find it hard to get through the next few months,” said Oxfam Country Director Neva Khan. An estimated 2.5 million are still living without basic necessities including food, water, shelter and sanitation.
The United Nations (UN) launched the Floods 2011 Rapid Response Plan on September 18, seeking $357 million but less than 50% funds have been raised. Though some donors, notably the European Commission and the United States have responded generously, the response from others has been “disappointing”.
Agriculture and food insecurity
April farming season is likely to be missed by most farmers this year, unless immediate action is taken to rehabilitate the fields and redistribute seeds and tools required for farming.
Agencies warn that the next disaster may be just a few months away and are calling on the government to intensify efforts to limit the impact of future disasters. One in four farmers missed the November-December planting season either because help was not received in time or their land was still submerged.
Agencies fear that the rising malnutrition rates caused by the floods, which were already above the emergency threshold before the floods, will continue to increase if immediate action is not taken. “The floods have exposed and deepened a food crisis in Sindh that has resulted in malnutrition rates far worse than the Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Save the Children Country Director David Wright.
“Even though we have experience in working in insecure areas, we really have to strengthen our systems and dial it up to revamp our procedures and ensure that workers stay safe,” Wright said. Khan added that staff security remains the number one priority.
The agencies called on the humanitarian community to continue providing assistance so that flood-affected families not only meet their basic needs, but rebuild their lives. They also called on the Pakistan government to boost its efforts for seeking avenues to limit the impact of future disasters.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2012.
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