The United Nations outlines combined strategy to ensure the survival of millions of flood affected people in Pakistan
In a coordinated effort, the directors of the Emergency divisions of UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) this week visited flood affected areas in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to survey the devastation.
"The sheer scale of this disaster is unprecedented and requires unprecedented measures," said Dr. Eric Laroche, Assistant Director-General of Health Action in Crisis of the World Health Organization. "One of the many challenges we are facing is to provide assistance to people cramped in scattered spontaneous settlements, thus making it very difficult to address life threatening risks and to provide the health coverage they so desperately need," he added.
Unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, food shortages and a lack of access to health services pose serious risks. The likelihood of disease outbreaks and deaths due to malnutrition are of grave concern. Many of those affected by the floods come from the areas where the disease burden, malnutrition rates and health risks were already very high. A combination of illness, food insecurity and destruction of crops is now compounding the situation, making people more vulnerable, especially children.
"WFP is seriously concerned about the nutritional situation of the flood affected. We urgently need to keep feeding people in this crisis - food provision is the cornerstone of any strategy to assist people and to prevent malnutrition," said Mr. David Kaatrud, Director of Emergencies at WFP. "WFP will continue to work with the international community to mobilise the resources required to meet the huge hunger needs," he added.
During the visit, the joint UN agency delegation visited key emergency relief programmes related to health, food and nutrition activities and took park in an aerial survey of some of the most recent and worst hit areas in Dadu and Sehwan in Sindh.
Recognising the importance of the work of the Government of Pakistan, the Pakistan Army and local organizations in providing relief to the flood affected population, Mr. Louis-Georges Arsenault, Director of Emergency Programmes at UNICEF, emphasised the importance of working together to ensure the survival of those affected, particularly of children. "We have to also remember that this is an important opportunity to reach people who were already vulnerable before the floods and who were not receiving the assistance that they needed. With sufficient resources and good collaboration, we can make great gains in tackling some of the problems that have been present here for a long time. This is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss," he added.
To ensure an ongoing coordinated response to the crisis and to address the increasing threats to the survival of those affected, the United Nations and its partners have developed a joint 'Survival Strategy'. This includes the three agencies represented on the delegation as well as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other key partners. The strategy focuses on the Health, Nutrition, WASH and Food clusters and aims to ensure a more integrated, effective and timely response to address the key factors contributing to diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections, malaria, measles, cholera, malnutrition, as well as maternal and neo-natal mortality and morbidity.
While reiterating their own commitment and that of their agencies to continued efforts to do more to address the emergency in Pakistan, the three directors highlighted the need for additional resources. The food cluster response aims to reach approximately 8.2 million people, while the WASH cluster response aims to reach approximately 7 million people. In order to accomplish this, more funding is needed. The directors called on the international community to continue its support for the relief efforts and to respond positively and quickly to the recently revised floods response plan made by the United Nations.
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