The Islamic Republic of Pakistan (hereafter Pakistan) is affected by climate change, increased urbanization, environmental degradation, and increasingly severe and larger scale natural disasters. Pakistan is prone to natural hazards such as drought, floods, heat waves, extreme cold, and earthquakes. According to the Climate Risk Index 2021, Pakistan ranks eighth for countries most affected by extreme weather events between 2000 and 2019.
Pakistan has experienced a series of hazards in recent years. Drought-like conditions, which began in late 2018 and continued through 2019, affected five million people with 2.1 million people targeted for humanitarian assistance. This was followed by a winter emergency affecting one million people across much of the western part of the country. The worst desert locust infestation in 27 years was declared a national emergency by the Government in January 2020.
This was followed with the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which began in February 2020 and contributed to health and economic shocks, a disruption in education, and increased food insecurity. In September 2020, the Government declared a national emergency due to heavy monsoon rains that triggered major floods in Sindh Province and affected an estimated 2.4 million people.
The Government of Pakistan has a strong disaster management foundation built around the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the Provincial Disaster Management Authorities (PDMA), and national legislation from 2010. In addition, the Government has well-established national development and disaster risk reduction frameworks, including the Pakistan Vision 2025, the National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP) 2012-2022, and National Flood Protection Plan (IV) (NFPPIV) 2015-2025. Humanitarian partners also work across different areas to ensure alignment of response with Government activities. The United Nations (UN) and humanitarians work closely with the NDMA, PDMA, Line Ministries, and the National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF) in support of these initiatives.
The Government of Pakistan, with support from international and national humanitarian and development partners, responded to the pandemic by strengthening response coordination, case management, disease surveillance, and testing services in laboratories, health systems and community mobilization to brace for the impact of COVID-19. The UN is working with the federal and provincial governments at multiple levels to aid coordinated management of COVID-19 preparedness and response. Through coordination mechanisms, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has supported the Humanitarian Coordinator and Humanitarian Country Team by implementing the Global Humanitarian Response Plan, including supporting coordination structures at national and provincial levels through working groups with NDMA/PDMAs and relevant ministries and line departments.
Several agencies - including the World Bank, World Food Program (WFP), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN Women, and others - have coordinated in the country to achieve these goals and lessen the burden. For example, UNICEF has focused its Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) response and capacity-building support by concentrating WASH/Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) interventions in 20 of 27 high-burden districts. This activity included drafting the National WASH/IPC COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan. Almost nine million people in the country have been supported with hygiene promotion services including COVID-19 prevention and control information, with close to five million people utilizing the additional handwashing stations in affected areas.