Aid agencies forced to close programs if funds don't urgently arrive for Pakistan floods

By mhart

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More than nine million people who have been affected by severe flooding in Sindh province are at risk of disease and widespread malnutrition. Relief efforts reaching more five million people are under threat due to lack of funds, warned a group of international humanitarian organizations today, including Oxfam, Save the Children, Care, and ACTED. They are urgently calling on the donor community to step up its response.

The lack of funding for the Pakistan flood relief programs will have serious consequences if money isn’t found soon to help those in need, Oxfam would be forced to cut back on its efforts after December, meaning the 3.9 million people it had planned to reach would go without help. Save the Children has raised only 35 percent so far of their global appeal for the Sindh floods. Care faces a shortfall of 91 percent and is struggling to continue its relief program at a time when the risk of an outbreak of disease and widespread malnutrition is escalating.

“More than two months into the crisis, millions of people are still without basics. If relief operations stop, it could lead to an unimaginable catastrophe. Healthcare, clean water, and sanitation are needed to stem a looming public health crisis. The precarious food system is under threat as there’s an acute food shortage, and many farmers will miss the winter cropping season. With winter approaching fast, millions of people who are still without shelter will be left out in the cold.  We urgently need to see the same donor generosity and giving that took place last year during the floods," said Neva Khan, Oxfam’s Country Director in Pakistan. 

The programs of UN agencies also are affected by the sluggish funding. The UN’s $357 million appeal has only received $96.5 million so far from international donor governments. "The 2011 floods flash appeal remains distressingly underfunded with a 73 percent shortfall, and if more funding is not received, relief supplies will run out within weeks, which prevents UN agencies from providing life-saving clean water, sanitation, food, shelter, and healthcare" said Stacey Winston, UN Spokesperson.

The government of Pakistan also faces a funding crisis and might be forced to scale down relief efforts due to depleting resources, which has led to an increased need for the humanitarian organizations to step up their response.

More than two months into the disaster, over 1.58 million houses in Sindh and 26,000 in Balochistan have been damaged. People are forced to live in desperate conditions. More than three-quarters of the affected households have not received any shelter assistance while around 800,000 people are still displaced.

According to the latest estimates, three million people are in urgent need of emergency food assistance.
Diseases are on the rise and the lives of at least two million adults and three million children are at risk. Stagnant waters and approaching winter season have strengthened the risk of a major outbreak of dengue, malaria, and acute respiratory infection. More than 160,000 pregnant women will require lifesaving medical services in the next six months.

“We had expected the situation to stabilize by now, but conditions are going from bad to worse. Each day that passes puts more children at risk of contracting diseases. Malnutrition levels among children under five are among some of our worst recorded cases. Children’s immunity is very weak, and we fear winter will make the situation worse if aid is not immediately stepped up,” said Save the Children’s Pakistan Country Director, David Wright.    

Over 67 percent of food stocks and 73 percent of the crops in thirteen districts of Sindh have been destroyed. Additionally, farmers whose field are under water will miss the winter planting season – which begins now – leading to hunger. Approximately 3.6 million people urgently require agricultural support to resume food production and income generation activities.

“It is unfortunate that the millions of flood affected populations have received so little humanitarian aid to meet their urgent food, water and shelter needs. These populations have lost everything and they require immediate assistance to be able to survive the coming winter months, and to have a chance to rebuild their lives.” said Andy Buchanan, Country Director of ACTED.

The United States has given $13.4 million to the UN appeal. Other contributing countries include – Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Norway, and Denmark. The European Commission has contributed $20.6 million and Central Emergency Response Fund has given $17.6 million.