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Red Cross responds to Pakistan floods

16 September 2011

In Pakistan, as heavy rains and floods are causing widespread destruction to homes, livelihoods and agricultural land, the Red Cross is helping with supplies, healthcare and sanitation.

So far, the south Asia monsoon season has affected 16 million people and is causing massive displacement of populations across Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nepal. In Pakistan, it is the second year running that millions have had to flee their homes.

Barry Armstrong, British Red Cross disaster relief manager, said: “Over the last few months, we’ve used £1.7 million, donated by the Department for International Development (DfID), to pre-position emergency stocks in Pakistan for just such an emergency as this. The emergency goods, such as hurricane lamps, cooking stoves and tents, are currently being distributed to those in need in Sindh province.”

Loss of income

Around five million people are affected. The majority, in low-lying Sindh province, have lost everything: their homes, farmland and belongings. Many had only just begun to recover from the effects of last year’s devastating floods.

Saifal Panhyar, a farmer from Khairpur in Sindh, and his family were lucky to escape as their house collapsed when the floods engulfed his village. Now, Khairpur is under five feet of water and acres of cotton crops have been lost. Panhyar said: “Our land is our sole source of income and the crops were just ready to be harvested but the continuous rain and now the flood water has badly damaged them.”

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies will help families in Sindh over the next four months with distributions of food, shelter materials and household items, as well as providing emergency healthcare and support for water and sanitation.

Thousands of people displaced

The risk of diseases spreading is high as 300,000 people have fled to the temporary relief camps, but are living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. Sanitation facilities are scarce and there is a lack of safe drinking water.

Many people are already suffering from diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections and skin infections. Malaria is also an increasing risk. However, flooding has left many health units and rural health centres submerged or inaccessible.

As part of its recovery programme in the wake of the 2010 floods, the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, with support from the Federation, trained a number of staff in emergency health to increase their ability to respond to future disasters. Five of these health teams have been sent to the affected districts to provide emergency health services.

Investing in community resilience

Pete Garratt, Red Cross regional disaster management co-ordinator in south Asia, said: “The scale and severity of flooding that south Asia is currently experiencing coupled with the underlying poverty and vulnerability of this region mean that more people are simply unable to cope with the effects of such disasters.

“The numbers of people affected indicate that the preparedness and mitigation measures taken by countries have had limited reach so far – more can and must be done if we are to build community resilience to such disasters.”

In the unlikely event that we raise more money than can be reasonably and efficiently spent, any surplus funds will be used to help us prepare for and respond to other humanitarian disasters either overseas or in the UK.

Find out how we've been helping people recover after last year's floods


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