PAKISTAN: More aid needed as flood-affected region tries to recover

Islamabad, 27 August 2003 (IRIN) - Sustainable relief aid in the flood-stricken southern province of Sindh is still urgently needed after more rains at the start of the week forced people to leave their homes again to seek the relative safety of relief camps, according to an aid agency official.

"They have been receiving more rain, so while it had subsided a little there is still lots of displacement. People are still living in camps, although some in Sindh have been able to go home. However, about a million people have lost their livelihoods, so there needs to be a solid rehabilitation initiative," a World Vision Programme (WVP) official, Joel Hirst, told IRIN in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, on Wednesday.

An emergency was declared by the Sindh government in the province in July after it received heavy rains, which caused huge floods across the provinces of Sindh and neighbouring Balochistan. It is believed to have been heaviest downpour in a decade, affecting about 970,000 people in Sindh and more than 450,000 in Balochistan.

Nationally, Pakistan has thus far spent close to over US $1.1 million in providing the affected people in the two provinces with aid. But at least 40 percent more of what had already been supplied to the regions was still needed, an army officer told IRIN last week.

WVP announced on Wednesday that a sub-grant of $35,000 had been donated to Save the Children Fund, UK. The grant is to enable the agency to set up mobile health units, which will primarily focus on women and children, said to be at greater risk.

"Though there has been no outbreak of epidemics, there is still a limited capacity to handle the spread of disease. There are a growing number of cases of gastroenteritis, malaria and eye infections being reported - directly related to the lack of safe drinking water," Omar Abdi, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) representative in Pakistan, told IRIN in Islamabad on Wednesday, adding that there was also a need to assess the effects the floods would have on education.

"Now that the relief operation is moving into the long-term phase, UNICEF is concerned about the capacity of the districts to manage and prioritise the distribution of relief goods when the army withdraws," Abdi said.

"Within two months the rainy season will be over, and the immediate emergency time frame will have expired. What will follow will need to be a more long-term rehabilitation activity. We are hoping to be able to decrease the incidence of waterborne illness and increase the availability of preventative and curative medication for the flood displaced in order to avert any serious outbreaks," Hirst observed.

It is predicted that it will take some time before the region and its people recover from the devastation. "It will take a long time for people’s lives to return to normal due to the sheer scale of the flooding. The people will require support for many months to come in both Sindh and Balochistan," Abdi said.

Theme (s): Natural Disasters,


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