Pakistan: 33 Million People in Need
HCI has mobilized its team on the ground in the provinces of Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab to meet the most urgent needs of the 33 million people who have been displaced across Pakistan by recent flooding. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports (UNHCR) that over one-third of Pakistan is currently under water due to atypically high rainfall, with more rain expected in the coming weeks. As of September 3, 2022, over 1,300 people have died, and 12,500 people have been seriously injured. Over 400 of the deceased are children.
Bacteria, Disease, and Insects
The situation on the ground is also complicated by continued COVID-19 outbreaks and illnesses associated with flooding, including the spread of pathogens (microbes, bacteria and viruses) transported in contaminated water, which can cause typhoid, measles, parasitic leishmaniasis, polio, and dehydration due to diarrhea.
Flooding also causes blooms in insect populations which also spread malaria and dengue. These diseases in particular target young children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and the elderly. Unfortunately, there are increasing concerns about rising death rates for children under 5 years of age across Pakistan without reliable access to healthcare and rapid testing. Young mothers, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers will soon require access to midwives and nutrition care. The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently addressing some of these testing and healthcare needs, but the situation is complex and so widespread, that it is impossible for UN agencies to meet all the needs on the ground,
HCI’s Plan for Pakistan
HCI has committed $500,000 to the immediate response, intending to fundraise a total of $4,000,000 to bolster our second and third-phase responses.
With generous support from Canadian donors, we have already begun distributing food, water, and large tents for families. Some families have lost their ability to cook meals because their fuel and household items have been washed away. We have responded by distributing prepared meals as well as dry food items. In the coming weeks, we will also distribute medical supplies and bed nets to protect families from disease.
One of the largest challenges in responding to a widespread emergency is that it can be hard to know who to help first. The four humanitarian principles are humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence, and they guide us to aid human suffering wherever it may be, and to help the neediest. For example, in Sindh, we are helping the most vulnerable by focusing on the families of deaf children, who are part of our education program. These families have lost income for over a month now, and we will be distributing cash transfers so that they can purchase food, pay their bills, seek medical care, repair their homes, and provide special care for their Deaf children while schools remain closed.
Pakistan is the world’s fifth most populous country, yet it is responsible for less than 1% of its greenhouse gases. Floods have been exacerbated by rapidly melting inland glaciers across Pakistan (over 7000) which have swollen embankments and floodplains, and over-saturated the ground. These floods are unprecedented, yet the situation is unlikely to improve in the future as climate change continues to impact the world’s most vulnerable people disproportionately. Moving forward, our greatest priority is building resiliency, and we will work to strengthen the integrity of homes and income supports so that families can weather future storms more effectively while implementing sustainable and environmentally responsible programs.