Risk of public health crisis and malnutrition rises for over nine million people
Over nine million people who have been affected by severe flooding in Sindh province are at risk of disease and widespread malnutrition, while relief efforts reaching over five million people are under threat due to lack of funds, warned a group of international aid agencies today, including Oxfam, Save the Children, Care and ACTED. They are urgently calling on the donor community to step up its response.
The lack of funding for the Pakistan flood relief programs will have serious consequences if money isn’t found soon to help those in need, Oxfam would be forced to cut back on its efforts after December, meaning the 3.9 million people it had planned to reach would go without help. Save the Children have raised only 35 percent so far of their global appeal for the Sindh floods. Care faces a shortfall of 91 percent and is struggling to continue its relief program at a time when the risk of an outbreak of disease and widespread malnutrition is escalating.
“Care has used its own resources to fund this response, which is focusing on emergency healthcare and food security. Due to a funding shortfall, we’ve only reached roughly 10 percent of the targeted 150,000 in need of emergency healthcare in the areas where we and our local partners operate,” said Waleed Rauf, Country Director of Care International in Pakistan.
The programs of UN agencies also are affected by the sluggish funding. The UN’s $357 million appeal has only received $96.5 million so far. "The 2011 floods flash appeal remains distressingly underfunded with a 73 per cent shortfall and if more funding is not received relief supplies will run out within weeks which impacts UN agencies from providing life-saving clean water, sanitation, food, shelter and healthcare," said Stacey Winston, UN Spokesperson.
The government of Pakistan also faces a funding crisis and might be forced to scale down relief efforts due to depleting resources, which has led to an increased need for the humanitarian agencies to step up their response.
Millions of people still without basics
“Over two months into the crisis millions of people are still without basics. If relief operations stop, it could lead to an unimaginable catastrophe. Healthcare, clean water and sanitation are needed to stem a looming public health crisis. The precarious food system is under threat as there’s an acute food shortage, and many farmers will miss the winter cropping season. With winter approaching fast, millions of people who are still without shelter will be left out in the cold. We urgently need to see the same donor generosity and giving that took place last year during the floods," said Neva Khan, Oxfam’s Country Director in Pakistan.
Over nine million people have been affected by the floods that hit in August. More than two months into the disaster, over 1.58 million houses in Sindh and 26,000 in Balochistan have been damaged.
People are forced to live in desperate conditions. More than three-quarters of the affected households have not received any shelter assistance while around 800,000 people are still displaced. According to the latest estimates three million people are in urgent need of emergency food assistance.
Diseases on the rise
Diseases are on the rise and the lives of at least two million adults and three million children are at risk. Stagnant waters and approaching winter season have strengthened the risk of a major outbreak of dengue, malaria and acute respiratory infection. Over 160,000 pregnant women require lifesaving medical services in the next six months.
“We had expected the situation to stabilize by now but conditions are going from bad to worse. Each day that passes puts more children at risk of contracting diseases. Malnutrition levels among children under-fives are among some of our worst recorded cases. Children’s immunity is very weak, and we fear winter will make the situation worse if aid is not immediately stepped up,” said Save the Children’s Pakistan Country Director, David Wright.
Food production severely affected
Over 67 percent of food stocks and 73 percent of the crops in thirteen districts of Sindh have been destroyed. Additionally farmers whose field are under water will miss the winter planting season – which begins now – leading to hunger. Approximately 3.6 million people urgently require agricultural support to resume food production and income generation activities.
“It is unfortunate that the millions of flood affected populations have received so little humanitarian aid to meet their urgent food, water and shelter needs. These populations have lost everything and they require immediate assistance to be able to survive the coming winter months, and to have a chance to rebuild their lives.” said Andy Buchanan, Country Director of ACTED.
The US is by far the greatest contributing nation to the UN’s appeal having given $13.4 million – but that represents just 3.8 percent of what is required since the initial crisis began. The third richest country, Japan, has given 2.5 percent of what’s needed, Germany, the world’s fifth richest country, has given 2 percent, UK, seventh richest country, has given 1.8 per cent, Canada 2.6 percent, Australia 1 percent, Norway 1 percent and Denmark only 0.6 percent. The European Commission has contributed $20.6 million which represents 5.8 percent of the appeal while the Central Emergency Response Fund has given 4.9 percent that amounts to $17.6 million.
Notes to editors
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- Oxfam aims to reach more than 3.9 million people over the duration of its response and is working in the eight worst affected districts of Sindh. Working with local partners Oxfam has already reached 1,360,747 people. It has provided 675,509 people with clean water supplies, sanitation facilities to 42,200 people, conducted hygiene promotion sessions with 66,682 people, provided 172,919 people with hygiene kits, distributed kitchen kits among 282,000 people, provided animal fodder to 26,000 people and tool kits to 28,390. Also assisted in the search and rescue of 58,208 people.
- Care International through its local partner is providing emergency health care to approximately 150,000 individuals. Care also has plans to start an emergency food security program but is unable to do so because of lack of funds.
- Save the Children targets to reach 1 million people through a multi-sectoral response. To date, it has reached 500,000 people through food only and 100,000 people with other interventions. Lack of funds is not allowing the agency to provide individuals with everything it had planned to. Save the Children’s flood response includes emergency food distribution, provision of primary health care, emergency shelter, water, health and sanitation, protection programme for children and establishment of temporary learning centres.
- ACTED has launched a response which aims to cover the emergency relief and early recovery needs of 1 million flood affected and displaced beneficiaries in Sanghar, Umerkot and Mirpur Khas districts over the next 12 months. The focus of its activities will be on provision of water, sanitation, shelter and food security assistance, as well as on supporting the livelihood restoration and mid-term food security of affected populations in rural areas. Through an integrated, multi-sectoral response, ACTED plans not only to meet the needs of flood affected communities in southern Sindh, but also to increase their resilience to possible future disasters.
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