Pakistan: Cyclone Preliminary Appeal No: 13/1999

Originally published
This preliminary appeal seeks CHF 1,540,000 in cash, kind and services to assist 25,000 beneficiaries for 3 months

A tropical storm in the northern Arabian Sea developed into a cyclone which reached the south-eastern coast of Pakistan 10:00 AM local time on May 20. The cyclone, labelled 2-A, hit the coastal area of Sindh province with reported winds of up to 170 miles per hour (270 kms per hour).

The cyclone caused massive destruction in three districts, damaging at least 50,000 houses in more than 600 villages. The number of dead had reached 200 on Monday 24, but it is feared the death toll will climb substantially as more bodies are recovered. It is estimated that as many as 500,000 people have been affected by the cyclone, but these figures are still unconfirmed due to the inaccessibility of the affected region. Communication with much of the area is still cut off and travel is difficult due to the flooding and damage caused to the infrastructure.

The Disaster

More than 10 percent of the Sindh province was affected by the cyclone. In the worst hit districts of Thatta, Badin and Ketty Bandar, near the Indian border, at least 600 villages were damaged. The coastal towns of Jati, Sajawal, Mirpur Sakro and Raj Malik were also badly affected. People drowned or were crushed to death as their houses collapsed in the strong winds and tidal waves. At least 60,000 hectares of farmland has been seriously damaged and more than 2,000 livestock killed.

The most common house constructions in the area are mud or reed houses with thatched roofs, making them vulnerable to strong winds and excessive rains or floods. More than 50,000 huts and houses are expected to have been damaged.

More than 1,200 people are still missing, but once again, the numbers are not confirmed and may be substantially higher. Among those missing are approximately 450 fishermen, and according to the Pakistani Fisherman? Association some 200 fishing boats and trawlers have been swept out to sea.

The infrastructure in the affected areas has been severely damaged. Roads have been washed away and telephone poles and electricity lines destroyed, thereby seriously disrupting telecommunications and road accessibility to the region.

The authorities have set up temporary camps to shelter the most vulnerable, and several hundred soldiers have been sent to the area to assist with the camps and the rescue work. The army has also been delivering relief material and food by helicopter and the navy has taken part in the search for missing vessels. The prime minister has announced 50 million rupees (1 million US$) for relief efforts.

As of Monday 24 heavy rains were still continuing in many parts of the Sindh province.

The Response so far

Government Action

Rescue operations were initially hampered because of the difficulty of travelling to the affected area and the overall disruption to communications; however helicopters are now being used for relief and rescue operations. Navy relief teams are also equipped with helicopters and motor boats, and medical relief teams from the Army and Navy are also working in all the accessible areas.

Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) / Federation Action

Close co-ordination between the National Headquarters of the Society and its branches in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar has enabled the Society to distribute emergency relief items from existing stock, but these stocks are now running very low. The PRCS are in the process of distributing 13 metric tonnes of food to the most vulnerable families in the affected areas.

A joint PRCS / Federation assessment team has already been mobilised, and an updated assessment of the continuing relief and future rehabilitation needs will be available in the next few days.

The Federation in Islamabad, Delhi regional delegation and the Secretariat in Geneva are in regular contact with the field operations through the PRCS Headquarters.

Other Agencies Action

Several local non-government organisations are also providing assistance on a small scale in the cyclone affected areas. Their work and the overall Government operations are being closely co-ordinated with the Red Crescent activities through the PRCS.


The Government maintains overall responsibility for the operation. The PRCS is working alongside all other parties in the affected areas, and have identified a number of outstanding needs which are outlined below.

The Intended Operation

Assessment of needs

The initial assessment was carried out by the PRCS Sindh Provincial Branch. The full assessment is currently underway, made more difficult by the devastation to the infrastructure. It is expected that the death toll and assessment of total damage will be much higher when this evaluation has been concluded. The Provincial Sindh branch continues to update PRCS National Headquarters on a regular basis, but a full evaluation of the total number of people in need of help and the geographical area to be covered is still difficult as many of the coastal areas can only be reached by helicopter.

Immediate Needs

The following needs have been identified, with many supplies already coming into the area through PRCS stocks located in the province and other parts of the country:

Shelter Material : Tents and plastic sheeting for emergency shelter;

Food packs: Family food stocks have been swept away or spoiled by the sea water. Markets and shops have also lost their stocks, causing a very severe shortage of food in the area. The immediate needs include rice, beans/ lentils, cooking oil, sugar, tea, salt and powdered milk;

Water: Wells have been submerged or have collapsed. There is a real danger of the spread of disease, and water purification tablets and tankers supplying fresh potable water are already being supplied;

Domestic needs: Families in need will be supplied with clothing, cooking utensils, stoves, water containers, hurricane lamps, blankets, bed sheets, ground and plastic sheets;

Medicines: A number of medical items are needed to ensure that water born diseases and other health problems are avoided in the area.

Anticipated Future needs

In general the people in the area are either involved in fishing or small scale farming. The assessment of rehabilitation needs for these families is still being conducted, but there will need to be a distribution of agricultural tools, seeds, fertilisers, building tools for reconstruction and fishing equipment in order to assist the most vulnerable families in rebuilding their lives. Estimates of these needs, which are not covered in this appeal, are in excess of 9 million CHF.

Red Cross / Red Crescent Objectives

The overall objective of this relief operation is to provide the most vulnerable with immediate help to sustain life and livelihood; more specifically the objectives are as follows:

  • To provide help with immediate water and food needs;
  • To treat people suffering from cyclone related injuries and diseases, including the reduction of diarrhoea diseases by providing water purification tablets and, where needed, fresh water supplies;
  • To provide immediate temporary shelter and shelter materials for families that have had their homes totally destroyed;
  • To provide assistance to families that now need to totally restart their lives, specifically related to building materials and basic tools;
  • To increase families disaster coping skills through health education focusing on hygiene and sanitation;
  • To support self reliance by supplying basic kitchen sets for family food preparation;
  • To build upon the capacity of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society and the local community.
Immediate action

Field assessments are already underway in the cyclone affected areas, this is being carried out by the Pakistan Red Crescent with assistance from the International Federation. The immediate needs are as follows:

  • Tents for 2,500 families;
  • Food for 25,000 people for one month;
  • Domestic needs for 5,000 families;
  • Medicines for 25,000 people;
  • Basic building tools including buckets, wheel barrows, corrugated iron sheets, picks and shovels;

All procurements will be carried out locally in Pakistan through collaboration between the Pakistan Red Crescent and Federation. Standard Federation procedures will be applied to all procurement. Emergency stocks maintained by the PRCS have already been drawn on to begin the relief operation, and will be replaced as procurement begins.


The operation will be completed within three months (assuming timely and adequate funding).


The PRCS will be responsible for organising the central distribution. State and local branches will carry out distribution in the field with guidance and support from National Staff field co-ordinators. Volunteers and youth members will also provide assistance, with overall monitoring the responsibility of the Federation / PRCS.

Selection of beneficiaries

Beneficiaries will be those who have lost their homes and their livelihood. An initial selection of the most vulnerable has already been made by the local authorities and Pakistan Red Crescent.


Wherever possible, local suppliers will be found who can transport the food to the nearest distribution point, thereby reducing the need for stockpiling and redistribution of food between warehouses.


It is anticipated that all distribution will be conducted using Pakistan Red Crescent vehicles - a small charge has been added to the local cost in order to cover these costs. Other vehicles will only be used if strictly necessary.


The PRCS has already raised the public awareness of the work being carried out by The Red Cross and Red Crescent. An Information Officer has been recently recruited, who is working alongside the Federation Regional Information Delegate. Both representatives of PRCS and the Federation have already carried out a number of National and International media interviews.


A disaster response team made up of senior PRCS staff from the province and NHQ has already been established. The Federation will provide a senior relief co-ordinator to work alongside this team in order to assist monitoring, assessments, procurement, distribution and operational management. Branch staff and volunteers will be used as much as possible for distribution and health/hygiene education. They will also monitor the use of water purification chemicals and to ensure that tablets are used correctly. The Federation South Asia Regional Delegation will provide support to the operation as requested and within its capacity.

Monitoring and Reporting

Monitoring will be co-ordinated by the disaster response team who will define systems to assess both quality and quantity of service delivery. The Federation will oversee monitoring. Operational and financial reports will be issued regularly by the Secretariat. A Final Report and Financial statement will be issued.

Capacity of the PRCS / Federation

The capacity of the PRCS and the provincial branches has improved rapidly over the past few years. With the substantial support of the NHQ, and the Federation - particularly the South Asia Regional Delegation -- this relief and rehabilitation operation will be managed within the Region. The South Asia Regional Delegation, established in early 1998 in New Delhi, is now fully staffed with delegates specialised in public health, disaster preparedness, finance, development, management and information. Expertise not available within the delegation will be provided through the Federation Secretariat.

Budget Summary

See Annex 1 for details.


This appeal is intended to provide targeted support to the most vulnerable person affected by this disaster. The most urgent need is for immediate financial support to enable the PRCS to continue with the current immediate relief and rehabilitation activities.

Margareta Wahlstr
Under Secretary General,
Disaster Response & Operations Coordination

George Weber
Secretary General

APPEAL No. 13/99
Tents (2.500 units x CHF 160)
Building tools
Domestic needs (clothing/blankets/cooking sets/ stoves/water containers/lamps/plastic sheeting)
Food parcels (25.000 units x CHF 12,8)(rice, beans, lentils, cooking oil, sugar, tea, salt, milk)
Basic drugs / water purification tablet
Transport, storage & vehicle costs
Personnel (1 expat staff x 3 months, RD support)
Personnel (NS local staff)
Administrative, office & general expenses
Travel & Communication
Monitoring/Survey mission/Evaluation
Printing Costs/Information
Secretariat operational support

All items are going to be purchased locally, quantities of relief supplies will be indicated in the confirmed budget