Children affected by the worst floods in Pakistan’s history one year ago remain at risk of malnutrition with productive agricultural areas in many regions not yet recovered. The floods, which submerged about a third of the country – an area equivalent to floods from Brisbane to Hobart – destroyed both standing crops in the field, seed crops and aid agencies supplies which were in place to deal with existing poor food security.
The unseasonal monsoonal downpour at the end of July 2010 affected some 21 million people, and left aid agencies stretched. Many places in the affected area had not fully recovered from previous disasters such as the floods in 2007 and the earthquake in 2005.
The level of child malnutrition was already alarmingly high prior to last year’s floods with UNICEF measuring acute malnutrition at 23 percent in children under five in the worst affected areas in January 2010. With the destruction of 5.4 million acres of arable land in last year’s floods and the associated soaring food prices, the situation is again critical.
Millions of people have been assisted in the past year by aid and development agencies and the generosity of governments and individuals. In the first six months after the floods, more than US$24 million was donated through World Vision by supporters in 10 countries. These donations enabled us to assist an estimated 1.5 million people in a number of ways including:
- Distributing food aid to nearly 375,000 people in the worst hit regions of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa;
- 220,000 people benefitting from water, sanitation and hygiene interventions, which involved the construction of latrines, bathing and washing places, the installation of water tanks and hand pumps and the distribution of water purification tablets.
- Providing medical treatment to 200,000 people at our health units and emergency help to malnourished children through community partnerships;
- Issuing nearly 250,000 people with urgent household supplies. These supplies included tents, soap, toothpaste, cooking supplies, bed sheets, blankets, buckets, mosquito nets and mats; and
The humanitarian response has now transitioned from emergency to recovery and World Vision has increased its activities to restore agricultural production and to protect women and children.
Our agricultural program has supported the rehabilitation of nearly 2,000 acres of land and provided 26,000 kilograms of certified wheat seed and 400 agricultural tool kits to local famers. Some 10,000 trees have been planted and damaged irrigation channels have been fixed.
Approximately 3000 chickens and 400 goats were provided to households led by women, and Women and Infant Friendly Spaces were established, where women receive help with literacy and education in health and hygiene.
“Malnutrition in small children has lifelong impacts and it remains worryingly high in Pakistan. Scientific evidence has shown that beyond the age of two years, the effects of chronic malnutrition can be irreversible,” said Kaitrin Both, acting head of Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs for World Vision.
“Our staff are doing what they can to alleviate it but with more floods and further devastation looming, more must be done to ensure aid agencies can continue their work.”