Thousands displaced by monsoon floods in Pakistan

Publié: 19 août 2011 15:43 CET

Rabia Ajaib, IFRC Islamabad

Just over one year after the devastating 2010 floods in Pakistan, monsoon rains have once again caused flooding that has left massive swathes of the country’s south under water.

According to the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, an estimated 750,000 people across six districts of Sindh province alone have been affected.  From August 9th, the intensity of the annual rains increased, with rising water levels causing breaches in canal embankments leading to flash flooding. Due to the low-lying terrain in the area, an estimated 300,000 acres of agricultural land have been engulfed by the flood waters and over 50,000 people displaced from their homes.

The floods have impacted particularly heavily on the districts of Badin, Tando Mohammad Khan, Mirpur Khas and Tharparkar. An estimated 30,000 houses have been destroyed and 18,000 have been left partially damaged. Farmers in these districts had just started harvesting their cotton crops a day or two before the flooding and the damage to the standing crops has been estimated to be around 605 million CHF.

In the wake of this latest disaster, the Red Crescent responded immediately through its local branches. Response teams including staff and volunteers trained in emergency response, first aid, and healthcare were deployed to the affected areas within 24 hours of the flash floods to carry out rapid needs assessments and provide emergency relief.

In the midst of the standing waters, diseases are already emerging with many children and adults suffering skin infections and malaria. “According to my observation, 60-70 % children have skin rashes. People are using the polluted flood water for drinking purposes,” says Fawad Sherwani, PRCS field coordinator who is involved in the rapid assessments.

The Red Crescent plans to support 10,000 affected families (70,000 people) in Sindh; providing them with tents, stoves, blankets, hygiene kits, tarpaulin sheets, household utensils, sleeping mats and drinking water. Red Crescent branches in Punjab and Sindh are monitoring the evolving situation closely; working in close coordination with the local government and concerned authorities.

As part of its recovery programme in the wake of the 2010 floods, the Red Crescent with support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) took steps to train a number of staff in emergency health in order to increase the Red Crescent’s future disaster response capacity. Three such health teams have now been mobilized in the affected districts to provide emergency health services.

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