As rains continue to lash the flood ravaged Sindh province in Pakistan, HANDS warns of a severe risk of a public health crisis if foods, medical, clean water and sanitation, services is not urgently provided. According to the National Disaster Management Authority more than 200,000 adults and 500,000 children are at risk of contracting diseases if immediate assistance was not provided. Millions of affectees are living in extremely unhygienic conditions without access to clean drinking water and basic needs and sanitation facilities, which if not addressed will lead to an outbreak of water-borne and vector-borne diseases like acute diarrhoea , dengue, malaria and hepatitis.
“These are exceptionally overwhelming circumstances that the people are facing, many of whom are still recovering from last year’s floods. People’s natural resilience to coping has eroded with one disaster after the other. Lack of food, water, shelter and sanitation has further weakened their resistance to diseases. Women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities are now more vulnerable than ever.” Reportedly, out of the 5.3 million flood affected people, 32 percent are women. Of these more than 100,000 are pregnant and are highly susceptible to diseases.
Similarly in agriculture the disastrous flooding of a large part of Sindh caused by torrential monsoon rains is estimated to have destroyed between 20 to 25 per cent of the province`s standing paddy crop. The damage is projected to cause the country a loss of $235m in export earnings. Additionally, Pakistan will lose its edge over other rice exporters of an early crop.
But rice is not the only crop that has been affected by the floods in the province for the second year running. The output of other major kharif crops — cotton and sugarcane — has also been affected adversely in addition to the production of chillies, tomatoes, onions, musk melons and bananas. The initial estimate of losses released by the Sindh Agriculture Department on Sept 5 showed that the flooding of fields had destroyed a third of the total kharif crop spread over 15.9 million acres of land across the province.