One year on from the worst ever floods to hit Pakistan, international aid agency World Vision calls for relief efforts to be ramped up for at least another year just to get families back to their pre-flood level of living.
World Vision is one of the world’s leading relief, development and advocacy organisation, dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice in almost 100 countries worldwide.
In Pakistan WVP is committed to the longer-term rehabilitation of affected communities and is helping restore families’ livelihoods across the country by running early recovery and development projects, distributing seeds and agricultural tools, and offering training and cash for work programmes.
Last year’s floods, which affected more than 20 million people and wiped out an area the size of the UK, were the fourth major emergency to hit Pakistan in almost as many years: from the Kashmir earthquake in 2005 to widespread flooding across South Asia in 2007 and the refugee exodus, after the outbreak of conflict, in 2009.
Head of World Vision Pakistan, Alexander Davey, said: ‘Pakistan sits on the frontline of disasters, and communities already living in extreme poverty are simply not being given time to recover from the last blow they were dealt.
‘World Vision aid workers even have children asking them when the next flooding will start – as last year’s emergency aid gave people more than they have ever had before, and much more than the lives they are returning to now.’ said Alexander.
Children face heightened vulnerability after any disaster, but particularly in Pakistan where serious issues such as malnutrition were already a cause for concern. The flooding washed away crops, destroyed 5.4 million acres of land and, as food prices rise, child malnutrition has increased to almost 25 percent in worst-hit areas like Sindh.
World Vision is responding to Sindh’s high malnutrition rates through community-based nutrition sessions and has set up more than 20 mobile clinics – often the only form of healthcare on offer.
In the past year the aid agency has reached an estimated 1.5 million people with food distributions, clean drinking water, hygiene kits, blankets, shelter and by establishing women and infant-friendly spaces across three of Pakistan’s four provinces.
Yet, as monsoon rains and melting mountain snow cause river levels to rise, up to five million people could be at risk once again. Families are being asked to prepare for evacuation in case river banks, damaged by last year’s flood, do not hold.
Alexander also said, ‘Pakistan’s cycle of disasters create a generational impact that is hard to break – with schools damaged or teachers lost, children drop out of education; what’s left of belongings often needs to be sold off; families become increasingly sick as they have less to eat but must work more. How can you afford to start rebuilding your home, when there’s no money to put food in your child’s mouth?’
‘One year on, Pakistan’s most vulnerable are barely even starting out on the long road to recovery.’
In the past year, World Vision has reached an estimated 1.5 million people across Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, Sindh and Punjab provinces through food distributions, clean drinking water, sanitation, providing hygiene kits, tents, blankets, kitchen utensils and cooking supplies, setting up health clinics, community health education (such as hygiene sessions to prevent the spread of diseases), child-friendly spaces, and women and infant-friendly spaces.