A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
International agency Oxfam today called on rich countries and institutions, meeting for the third time in as many months to discuss flood-ravaged Pakistan, to end the talking and start giving the substantial funds needed to help save lives and start to rebuild the country.1 Over $1.1bn (USD) remains unfunded in the UN’s current Pakistan Floods Emergency Response Plan.
Pakistan will host the Pakistan Development Forum from 14 – 15 November which brings together donor countries and international financial institutions to discuss rehabilitating communities hit by floods and support the reconstruction effort.
“This is the third major donor meeting since the floods and it is action that is needed not endless talking. Funding for humanitarian work is in danger of drying up, yet the needs are still enormous, especially as winter approaches and nearly seven million people are still without shelter,” said Fatima Naqvi, Oxfam’s acting country director in Pakistan.
“It is time donors showed leadership. They must commit long-term funds and ensure money starts to reach those who need it now, rather than making empty promises. Pakistan needs greater support to get back on its feet and rebuild from this devastating crisis,” said Naqvi.
More than 20 million people across Pakistan were affected by the floods. Nearly two million homes were damaged or destroyed; roads and bridges were swept away and schools and hospitals damaged. It is estimated that losses to public and private property amounted to more than $10 billion.2
The impact on the country’s already fragile economy has been devastating. Agriculture, which accounts for 21 per cent of the economy and 45 per cent of employment, was particularly hard hit. The floods wiped out more than two million hectares of crops and killed millions of livestock and poultry.
While the response from some donors and the public has been generous, the UN’s Pakistan flood appeal for just under $2 billion is still only 43 per cent funded. Many relief and emergency programs are in danger of being closed due to funding shortages.3
Oxfam says reconstruction can present a new opportunity to tackle Pakistan’s chronic poverty and inequality.
“The needs of the poorest and most vulnerable must be placed at the heart of the relief and reconstruction effort,” said Oxfam’s Fatima Naqvi. “It’s crucial that communities are consulted in assessing and prioritiZing reconstruction needs. It is also a chance for the authorities to take greater steps towards a more equitable distribution of land and prevent flood-affected families falling into debt bondage. Land ownership is an important safeguard against poverty. But in southern Sindh, the area worst-hit by the floods, its estimated 60 per cent of people are landless and many now have huge debts.”
Oxfam and its partners have supported initiatives in Sindh to redistribute state-owned land to poor landless women peasants. The agency says the program should be fully completed and closely monitored and rolled out to other provinces.
Caroline Gluck blogs from Pakistan: Rebirth among the flood ruins
Notes to editors
For strong VNR video footage and interviews on the flood, debt and land please go to: http://wordsandpictures.oxfam.org.uk/?c=7539&k=8b5374c272
Please credit Oxfam in using the footage.
1. The three meetings that have covered Pakistan have been: EU Heads of State meeting (16 September); Friends of Democratic Pakistan (15 October); Pakistan Development Forum (14-15 November)
2. World Bank and Asia Development Bank Damage Needs Assessment Report presented to the Government of Pakistan on 5 November 2010.
3. The World Health Organization and Unicef have both warned they may have to close some emergency programs and cut staff because of insufficient funding.
For interviews or information, contact:
Tariq Malik, +92 308 505 2976 firstname.lastname@example.org or,
Caroline Gluck, +92 308 555 7219 email@example.com