Finding hope in flood-hit Pakistan

Thousands of villagers are forced to live under temporary shelters, Pakistan. (Photo: Hira Hashmey/UNDP Pakistan)
Thousands of villagers are forced to live under temporary shelters, Pakistan. (Photo: Hira Hashmey/UNDP 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.

Highlights

  • 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.”

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