Rainfall equivalent to nearly 3 to 5 times the national 30-year average has covered up to one-third of Pakistan with water and wreaked havoc. The death toll is over 1,500 and rising with 552 children among the dead and some 33 million people affected.
The second wave of the disaster is hitting hard with outbreaks of watery diarrhoea, typhoid and malaria now increasing rapidly as millions of people sleep in temporary shelters or in the open near stagnating water. Over 134,000 cases of diarrhoea and 44,000 cases of malaria were reported in the hardest hit area of Sindh this week.
On 9 to 10 September the UN Secretary-General visited the flooded areas of Pakistan where he appealed to the international community for urgent funding, commended Pakistan and its people for their response and warned that this is the consequence of climate change.
As floodwaters slowly recede the sheer scale of damage is being revealed: 23,900 schools damaged, 1460 health facilities damaged, and 12,000 kilometres of roads under water.
UNICEF has expanded delivery of life-saving assistance and services and is reaching 51 of the 82 hardest hit districts with integrated services : child protection services in 15 districts, water tankering of 970,000 litres of safe water per day are reaching 194,000 people, 71 mobile health camps reaching 64,000 people, and 70 temporary learning centres reaching 6000 children.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
As the heavy rainfall has subsided in some areas the immense scale of the suffering of children and damage to infrastructure is becoming more clear. 81 districts that have been declared “calamity hit” are the focus of the expanding response. At its peak, the flood covered an area of land the size of Ireland with over 1 million homes damaged and 33 million people affected. Among those in the most affected districts are over 800,000 refugees from Afghanistan who were in Pakistan before the flood. While some roads have been cleared and families that have been cut off for weeks have been reached with basic assistance other areas remain difficult to reach. Families sleep in tents or in the open within a few metres of large pools of stagnant water while daytime temperatures exceed 40 degrees Celsius.
The UN Secretary-General conducted a mission to Pakistan from 9 to 10 September. He visited UNICEF-supported sites and other locations in the flood-affected areas. He appealed to the international community to support the response and commended Pakistan for its initial response efforts. Regarding climate change, he warned that “we are heading into a disaster…we have waged war on nature, and nature is striking back, and striking back in a devastating way.” He emphasized that Pakistan is suffering the early effects of climate change while not being a major contributor towards pollutants that impact the climate.
As of the latest available data, 23,900 schools were damaged or destroyed in the floods, with more than 5,000 still used as relief camps.
The health infrastructure was also damaged with rapid assessments indicating some 1460 health facilities and their contents are damaged. Rapid assessments have revealed extensive damage to the cold chain for vaccines with 349 refrigerators and solar direct drive systems damaged and more being found as the floodwaters recede. Further damage assessment of the cold chain system is in progress. UNICEF has agreed with GAVI to re-direct funds on hand to repair or replace these vital links in the vaccine cold chain.
The floods are undermining the resilience and psychosocial well-being of children and their caregivers, leaving many experiencing distress with limited or strained support systems. In the UN Rapid Needs Assessment conducted in Balochistan, 43 per cent of girls, 45 per cent of boys and 55 per cent of caregivers were reported to be showing signs of stress.
Children are the most vulnerable segments and are in dire need of Psycho-Social Support and recreation to reduce the effects of flood trauma. In the flood hit north, most of the districts affected are in mountainous areas that remain inaccessible. Children have lost their homes and schools leaving them without a routine and vulnerable to psychological and other protection issues. The health and social welfare systems do not generally provide sufficient mental health and psychosocial support services across the province and child protection services are also not available in all districts.
Access to adequate water and sanitation continues to be a challenge with large numbers of people in displaced camps. With up to 7 million people temporarily displaced insufficient access to safe drinking water and stagnant flood waters are resulting in an increased prevalence of WASH-related diseases, particularly among children. Secondary data on WASH infrastructure damage is being collected, with preliminary data indicating high levels of damage to household, communal and institutional water and sanitation infrastructure.
Due to the disruption of protection systems in the disaster-affected areas, the risk of exposure of the affected women and girls to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) remains high.