8 million people need medical assistance after catastrophic floods, UN agency says

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People affected by the floods take their belongings out of their flooded house in Shikarpur, Sindh province, on August 31, 2022. – AFP / File
  • 13.5 million people in need of protective services.
  • The floods are also impacting the education of 3.5 million children.
  • A total of 33 million people have been affected.

As many as eight million people in flood-affected areas need medical assistance, a UN agency said in its 100 Days report, as diseases continue to spread unabated.

The report, released by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), says an estimated 13.5 million people are in need of protection services while flooding has impacted education by 3 .5 million children.

Flooding and standing water have triggered waves of water and vector-borne diseases, and millions of people are facing food insecurity, according to UNOCHA’s 100 Days report, adding that access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene remains a challenge.

“Shelter is also a big priority as winter sets in and millions are still waiting for their land to dry out. Survivors are returning home to destroyed homes, crumbling crops and dead livestock,” did he declare.

The report mentions that people are being moved from place to place and that protecting the most vulnerable and keeping children learning is a major concern.

Persons concerned

The report says around 33 million people in total have been affected and 20.6 million still need help. However, 9.5 million people affected by the floods received assistance.

Moreover, the winter season is fast approaching and the affected population will be severely affected by harsh weather conditions in a few weeks, requiring adequate shelter and non-food items such as tents and blankets, he added.

flood water

According to the report, flood waters have continued to recede in many parts of Balochistan and Sindh over the past few weeks, although stagnant water remains in some districts. In Sindh, the worst affected districts like Dadu, Khairpur and Mirpurkhas remain under water for almost two months.

Economy

Pakistan’s economic situation is expected to have a negative impact according to the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), which was conducted under the leadership of the Ministry of Planning and Development with the Asian Development Bank, European Union, the World Bank and the United Nations system, the report says.

“The economy suffered a loss of $15.2 billion while it needs $16.3 billion for rehabilitation. The floods increased the poverty rate by 4% while up to 9, 1 million people live below the poverty line.

Pakistan requires a total of $816 million to meet its needs, of which $171 million has been funded while the remaining amount is $644.5 million.

Infrastructure

As for infrastructure, 13,000 sections of road and 439 bridges were damaged by the cataclysmic floods, the report said.

To date, more than 2.3 million homes have been damaged, including 900,000 fully damaged homes across the country. According to currently available data, some 5.4 million people remain displaced due to heavy rains and flooding.

protection

The report further states that increased protection issues include high levels of psychological distress and the exposure of children and adults to a range of new flood-related physical risks and hazards, such as damaged buildings, drowning and snake bites.

Marginalized people, including people with disabilities, experience heightened vulnerability due to interrupted access to essential services, and children and marginalized groups are vulnerable to abuse, violence and exploitation at distribution points, did he declare.

The report adds that safety issues are also said to have arisen from the lack of proper toilets and bathing facilities.

“The impact of the floods has a negative impact on the privacy, safety and security of women and girls and on access to basic humanitarian assistance, which has aggravated pre-existing gender inequality, increased GBV service needs and risk mitigation across sectors, including higher risks of child marriages, harassment and possible trafficking.”

Sanitation facilities

Up to six million people no longer have access to sanitation facilities at home, he said.

The report says the availability of clean water and sanitation remains limited, with people using contaminated water for domestic consumption and suffering from waterborne diseases. The practice of open defecation has increased from one fifth before the floods to more than one third of the affected population.

Health

Meanwhile, eight million flood victims need medical assistance. According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), more than 1,700 people have died and 12,800 people have been injured as a result of the heavy rains and floods.

“Cases of water-borne and vector-borne diseases, as well as acute respiratory illnesses, especially among children and the elderly, remain a challenge for the public health situation in flood-affected areas. Sind and Balochistan.”

As of Nov. 8, around eight million flood-affected people needed health assistance, including provision of essential medical supplies and access to essential health care, he said.

The report says that as displaced people return to their places of origin, they face an increased risk of disease transmission due to damaged infrastructure, stagnant water and inadequate sanitation facilities.

Education

He added that apart from this, the floods have severely affected the education sector, disrupting the school year and children’s access to learning.

As of October 20, 2022, at least 26,632 schools were damaged or destroyed in Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to floods. According to current estimates, the education of more than 3.5 million children has been interrupted due to floods across Pakistan.

Nutrition

The rate of stunting among children, which was already high before the floods, will further aggravate children’s cognitive development. Malnourished pregnant women are also at risk of having low birth weight babies who will be malnourished.

According to UNFPA, as of October 19, more than 1.6 million women were of childbearing age and nearly 130,000 were pregnant.

For these women, the risk of displacement, injury and death from flooding adds to that of gender-based violence and the possibility of dangerous disruptions to reproductive health care.

Food security, agriculture and livelihoods

A total of 4.4 million acres of cultivated area in the country remains affected. The current economic crisis due to rising inflation, low productivity growth and stagnant flood waters continue to pose challenges to food security in flood-affected areas.

An estimated 14.6 million people are in need of emergency food assistance from December to March 2023, which represents an increase of more than 100% compared to the pre-flood estimate.

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