Islamabad: UNICEF has begun reaching 183,000 flood-affected people every day with safe drinking water in Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh provinces after heavy monsoon rains caused widespread flooding. The UNICEF response supports the Government of Pakistan’s on-going flood response in the worst-hit districts.
Preliminary satellite imagery results from the Multi-sectoral Initial Rapid Assessment – a joint initiative between the government and the humanitarian community – indicate that 2.8 million people in 15 districts have been affected by the latest floods, including 1.4 million children (of which 392,000 children are under the age of five).
“Children from very poor families are among the worst affected by the severe flooding and they need our immediate help,” said UNICEF Pakistan Deputy Representative, Karen Allen. “UNICEF urgently needs $US15.4 million to both scale up its water, sanitation and hygiene response to reach around 400,000 people over the next three to six months and to provide critical education, child protection, health and nutrition services.”
Using funds from an emergency loan facility, UNICEF and partners have begun providing safe water via water trucking to 120,000 people in Jaffarabad and Naseerabad districts in Balochistan, 4,000 people in Dera Ghazi Khan district in Punjab and 59,000 people in Jacobabad and Kashmore districts, Sindh. UNICEF and partners have also installed water bladders in Jacobabad, with additional bladders due to arrive shortly across flood-hit areas of Sindh. In addition, 23,200 families in flood-affected districts of Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab will be provided with hygiene kits comprising soap, sanitary towels and water purification tablets this week, as well as jerry cans and water buckets to support safe water storage and prevent outbreaks of water-borne diseases.
Displacement due to damaged or destroyed homes is a serious concern for the health of vulnerable children, as the loss of access to safe water increases the likelihood of contracting and spreading water-borne and other diseases, such as diarrhoea, malaria, measles, polio and pneumonia. Accordingly, in addition to responding by providing safe drinking water and sanitation, UNICEF and partners are assisting the government with life-saving health and nutrition interventions.
The Multi-sectoral Initial Rapid Assessment results indicate that three quarters of children in five seriously affected districts are missing out on schooling, as schools have been damaged or destroyed or are being used to shelter displaced families. UNICEF and partners are awaiting funds in order to establish temporary learning and protective spaces where children can continue their learning in a safe environment.
“Some of the affected children are living in areas that are experiencing devastating flooding for the second or third time over the past three years, and these new floods have disrupted their recovery,” said Ms Allen. “The government and humanitarian partners, including UNICEF, are providing emergency assistance, but it is essential that we both continue and scale up the response to meet the huge needs of children and their families left vulnerable by these new floods. We are calling on the generous partnership of the international community to help us meet these needs.”