Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Although millions of people in flood-devastated southern Pakistan are still in dire need a year after massive flooding in 2010 and 2011, the humanitarian community and Pakistani government are working rigorously to help recover lives and livelihoods and to reconstruct the homes of survivors. But more support is urgently needed, as the country now enters what is predicted to be another heavy monsoon season.
With another extreme monsoon season predicted, government and aid agencies aim for recovery solutions now that reduce future disaster risks
Islamabad, Pakistan -- Although millions of people in flood-devastated southern Pakistan are still in dire need a year after massive flooding in 2010 and 2011, the humanitarian community and Pakistani government are working rigorously to help recover lives and livelihoods and to reconstruct the homes of survivors. But more support is urgently needed, as the country now enters what is predicted to be another heavy monsoon season.
As a result, global humanitarian agency Church World Service is launching an early recovery appeal in collaboration with the United Nations and Pakistani government, asking the international donor community to dig deeper into their pockets now -- for the restoration of family livelihoods, shelter, support for food and nutrition security, basic social, health and medical services, community infrastructure, clean water and sanitation, and to prepare now to mitigate future disasters.
This comes as a U.S. Senate panel voted on Thursday (May 24) to cut aid to Pakistan by an additional $33 million on top of foreign assistance budget cuts the panel had already approved that would eviscerate President Barack Obama's request for assistance to Pakistan by more than half-- with threats of further reductions if Pakistan fails to open supply routes to NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Now, with scarce funding from the international community, millions of affected people are still short on basic amenities, shelter and health and medical attention, placing them at serious risk of malnutrition, disease and deepening poverty.
To date, CWS has distributed more than 600 metric tons of food in flood affected areas and has provided mobile health services in four districts.
Yet, while CWS and other members of the aid community have provided survivors with relief items and are assisting in their rehabilitation and recovery, remaining needs exceed the funding received and what aid agencies have so far been able to provide.
As a consequence, affected communities are growing impatient, becoming irate and are becoming increasingly vulnerable to speculative outlets that are not to their benefit or to the community at large, CWS staffers in Pakistan report.
In some cases support for recovery and rehabilitation seems to be coming to an abrupt end.
“Meticulous attention is needed for the recuperation of women, children, the elderly and disabled who are particularly susceptible to health and sanitations problems. But such recovery assistance requires consistent support from the government and aid organizations,” says CWS Asia Pacific Regional Coordinator Marvin Parvez, who heads CWS's Pakistan/Afghanistan program.
With Pakistan’s long summer on its way, fears are rising of disease outbreaks, and another predicted extreme monsoon season that portends more flooding.
“We must prepare now for the possible urgent need for fully-equipped ambulances, mobile hospitals, vital food, water, sanitation and shelter if the country is to avert a greater humanitarian catastrophe on top of those of the past two years,” Parvez said.
Raising funds now, preparing for disaster before it strikes again
Government officials said an early recovery appeal aims to support communities by developing solutions that reduce the devastating impact of the 2011 floods and help communities quickly return to their normal life patterns while adopting measures for safer and more resilient living with better preparation to meet the event of future disaster.
They added that the global community needs to put more resources into aid projects and must not hesitate to contribute in rebuilding the lives of Pakistani disaster survivors, as it is for the greater good of humanity.
In January and February, CWS’s disaster-risk-reduction team and mobile knowledge resource center “reached the unreachable,” traveling to remote villages and schools in Thatta District, Sindh, to share first aid training and knowledge, simulation models and techniques showing how to stay safe during a disaster using locally available materials as basic as bamboo and leaves.
"We as a humanitarian agency feel compelled to call on all actors involved in this response to encourage all avenues of much needed additional support," said CWS’s Parvez.