International aid agency Oxfam has started an emergency response to get aid to those affected by flooding in the Sindh, Punjab and Baluchistan provinces of Pakistan. This is the third consecutive year of flooding in Pakistan and many of those affected had not fully recovered from last years' mega-floods.
Oxfam plans to support up to 25,000 households (175,000 people) with clean water, access to sanitation, hygiene kits, food (through conditional cash grants and Cash for Work), livestock support, emergency shelter, etc. Currently Oxfam is responding with their national partners and using their pre-existing stocks available in-country.
"Oxfam and partners have conducted a Rapid Needs Assessment and we have discovered that the majority of people need food assistance, due to the spread of the floods and accessibility issues. The crops are inundated and the livestock are not able to access sufficient fodder and are at risk of disease," said Arif Jabbar Khan, Country Director of Oxfam Pakistan.
"Contamination of water sources and flooding have resulted in the denial of access to clean water and sanitation facilities and the hygiene conditions are poor. People are doing open defecation, which is a normal practice otherwise but with limited or no dry space, women are especially affected by the lack of privacy. The communities have also reported high incidence of weak, sick adults and children suffering from diarrhoea, skin diseases and malaria. According to local communities, the floodwater will likely remain so for the next two months", added Khan.
"Large swathes of land are underwater and people are living on the bare roadsides. Most have lost their crops, homes and livestock for the second, even third time - pushed into worse condition from last year's disaster into this one," said Khan.
Other issues that came to the fore due to the assessment were that most of the camps are not formal and the population is scattered around the districts. Approximately 50% of the population in Kashmore is still in areas of dry ground near their villages which is accessible by boat only. These people are not willing to evacuate and leave their homes, livestock, for fear of losing whatever else is left in the aftermath of the floods.
The need of the hour is for the government and donors to invest more in long term measures to reduce the impact of disasters, such as, effective early warning systems, flood-resistant housing and timely repair / reinforcement of rivers and canals embankments, so that these disasters are averted in the long run. There is also the need for research on the impact of climate change on the variability of rainfall and develop policies and plans for supporting communities in mitigating the effects of climate change.
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Oxfam has been working in Pakistan since 1973. The 2010 and 2011 floods were the worst ever in recorded history of Pakistan, affecting 25 million people, with 1,985 killed and another 2,964 injured. Oxfam responded by mounting its biggest-ever worldwide humanitarian response. After the 2011 floods, Oxfam and its partners have helped 2.4 million people. Our assistance included emergency search and rescue, clean water and sanitation, cash grants and cash for work schemes and shelter.
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The international confederation of Oxfam (www.oxfam.org) is a group of independent non-governmental organizations from Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Quebec, Spain, the UK and the US.