Nutrition Cluster Update, September – October 2012
2012 Monsoon Floods Nutrition Response
The direct and indirect factors that lead to malnutrition contribute to nearly 35% of all under 5 deaths in Pakistan. Malnutrition is a recognized health problem in Pakistan and plays a substantial role in the country’s elevated child morbidity and mortality rates. The National Nutrition Survey (NNS) conducted in 2011 revealed a dire nutrition situation among children under the age of five. A global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate of 15.1% which is above the WHO Emergency cut-off point of 15% was observed.
Sindh ( GAM 17.5%), Baluchistan (GAM 16.1%)and Punjab (GAM 13.7%) provinces experience high level of child acute malnutrition which can be categorized as serious to critical based on WHO criteria. The prevalence of Maternal malnutrition is also considerably high across Pakistan. In 2011 about 16% of pregnant women were reported to have been malnourished (BMI<18.5) .
The flood emergencies in several districts of Sindh, Punjab and Baluchistan in the last three consecutive Monsoon seasons caused displacement of considerable number of people and resulted in massive livelihood losses, damages to infrastructure to health and other basic services.
As a result vulnerability to malnutrition is believed to have persistently increased.
The 2012 Monsoon rains which started early September and peaked towards mid of the month caused widespread damage in several districts of southern Punjab, Northern Sindh and North Eastern areas of Baluchistan. Jacobabad, Shikarpur, Kashmore, DG Khan, Rajanpur, Naseerabad and Jafarabad are districts which were reported to have been worst affected by the down pour and floods.
A Multi-Sector Initial Rapid Assessment (MIRA) was conducted by Mid-September in five of the seven worst affected Districts. An estimated over 1.97 Million People have been affected just in the worst affected districts. The MIRA has highlighted factors that negatively impact nutritional status and aggravate the already dire acute malnutrition status of children under five and Pregnant and Lactating women. These factors include:
Reduction in Meal Frequency: Over 90% of the total affected population have reduced their meal by once or twice a day.
Crop Loss and Reduced access to Food: overall in the five MIRA assessed districts; more than 88 percent of the surveyed communities lost their food stocks.
Burden of Infectious Diseases: More than 90% key informants highlighted the issue of Malaria and Diarrhea in their community, over 60% mentioned cough and fever as problem.
Impaired Access to Basic preventive and curative services: MIRA determined that about 23% of Health facilities not functional and hence access to health care will be compromised.