Finding hope in flood-hit Pakistan
“The waters will recede one day and I will certainly go home,” said 35-year-old Najma, a mother of three who survived the most recent floods that hit southern Pakistan affecting nearly five million people and leaving almost two million without homes in an area that had not yet recovered from last year’s massive floods that destroyed houses, livelihoods and community infrastructure.
As winter approaches, access to clean drinking water is a critical need, according to UN and government assessments. In Sindh, one of the worst-affected provinces in the south, stagnant water remains a major environmental and health threat as water borne diseases are increasing and outbreaks of diarrhea have been reported.
- The 2011 floods affected five million people, destroyed 1.5 million houses and 72 percent of crops in an area which had already been badly hit in 2010.
- 440,000 people have received emergency shelters and nearly 900,000 received clean water
- Less than a third of the UN's relief target of US$357m has been reached
“There are so many mosquitoes here. Children are suffering from malaria, diarrhea and other stomach infections. We don’t have the means to fight diseases,” said Meeran, a 40-year-old widow and a mother of six who is desperate to have an opportunity to earn again and feed her children.
“Our livestock is dead. Crops have been washed away. Our houses have collapsed and our lives are hollow,” she added.
In response to the crisis, a US$357 million rapid response plan was launched by the United Nations two months ago, to provide lifesaving relief and early recovery work. Around 27 percent (US$96 million) has been received so far.
In partnership with the Government of Pakistan, the United Nations Development Progamme (UNDP) provided pumping units to affected villages and will soon initiate a community restoration initiative targeting half a million people.
“Involving members of the affected communities in the early recovery phase of a disaster is crucial to give them a sense of ownershipand hope for a better future,” said Jordan Ryan, Director of UNDP’s Crisis Prevention and Recovery Bureau.
In addition, UNDP is working with Pakistan’s national and provincial disaster management authorities to help communities become more resilient to future flooding. This includes sending disaster risk management coordinators to the worst affected districts and UN Volunteers to support the Provincial Disaster Management Authority in Sindh and some of the most affected districts.
Since the beginning of the floods, approximately three million people have been provided with food while nearly a million persons received essential medicine, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. In addition, around 440,000 people have received emergency shelters and nearly 900,000 received clean water.
“Prosperity will come back to our lives,” said Kamlesh Kumar, one of the millions of flood-affected in southern Pakistan. “The livestock and the agricultural support will help restore our livelihoods, and we will start to earn a decent living once again.”
Background: Pakistan floods and UNDP-EU partnership
Background Pakistan Floods
In July 2010, heavy monsoon rains in the northern part of Pakistan, gradually spreading south, caused almost one fifth of the country to become flooded. The floods affected over 18 million people and caused widespread displacement and destruction of resources including crops, housing, buildings, roads and irrigation infrastructure. The situation was made worse by new floodings in 2011 and 2012.
UNDP Early Recovery Programme
In October 2010, UNDP launched an Early Recovery Programme, targeting 29 flood-affected districts. The programme mobilized USD 85 million from several donors, out of which the EU, through its Instrument for Stability, provided USD 20 million in March 2011. The programme ended in March 2013.
Some Programme Results
The programme supported about 5.5 million people in livelihoods restoration, community rehabilitation and resilience building in about 4000 villages across the 29 districts.
Temporary employment benefitted 1.3 million people through cash-for-work schemes to rehabilitate community-based infrastructure (roads, bridges, culverts, irrigation canals).
The formation of over 10,000 community organizations was supported, and their members trained in disaster risk management and the establishment of community-based early warning systems and risk mitigation plans.
60 micro-hydro power units were restored, and 2,200 biogas plants were established to provide communities with access to alternate energy. The programme also provided solar water pumps, street lights and heaters to the affected communities.