Families at risk in monsoon: Inadequate resources to cope with floods emergency

By Oxfam

Lack of funds and limited relief stocks will severely hamper the Pakistan government’s and aid organizations’ ability to respond to further flooding this monsoon season, international and national humanitarian organizations warned today.

The organizations said that some relief supplies are available to respond quickly in the immediate aftermath if there is serious flooding, but urgent funding would be required to ensure assistance reaches those most in need. They called on the government to request support quickly in the event of an emergency and also on donors to support the government and humanitarian community in its response.

“Despite a delayed monsoon this year, the possibility of new floods cannot be ruled out. The international community is prepared to support the Government of Pakistan respond to a floods emergency this year, but it is crucial that a call for international assistance is not delayed if there is large-scale flooding. Without additional funds, humanitarian organizations will struggle to provide the necessary assistance to communities at risk of increased vulnerability from consecutive flooding in the past two years,” says Ms Áine Fay, Pakistan Humanitarian Forum’s (PHF) Chair and Concern Worldwide Country Director.

The humanitarian community supports the government’s efforts in developing and implementing a flood preparedness plan at both provincial and federal levels this year. Saving lives and livelihoods must be at the heart of all preparedness plans and it is vital that an early request for support from the government is issued to minimize the human suffering and to help mobilize resources for an effective response.

In the aftermath of two consecutive flood disasters in 2010 and 2011, hundreds of thousands of people are still struggling to rebuild their lives and earn a living. “While the emergency appeal funds cater to the immediate needs of those affected, it is vital that the government, donors and the international community ensure long-term support to help rehabilitate communities, restore jobs and enable people to get back on their feet,” said Mr Naseer Memon, Executive Committee Member of the National Humanitarian Network (NHN).

This commitment towards long term investment was missing last year as the UN’s Early Recovery Appeal for the 2011 floods remained only ten percent funded while, despite unmet needs, funding and rehabilitation programs phased out gradually after the floods of 2010.

“Pakistan will keep losing traction on development gains if investment in measures to reduce the impact of disasters is not made. We appreciate the government’s commitment to the cause, but it’s high time that policies on paper are implemented across the country to secure lives, dignity, livelihoods and scarce resources,” said Mr Arif Jabbar Khan, Country Director of Oxfam in Pakistan.

According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2011-12, the floods in Sindh and Baluchistan in 2011 caused losses worth $3.4 billion to infrastructure, agriculture, education, health and housing. While reconstruction in the aftermath of the 2010 floods stood at $10 billion, a loss that could have been reduced substantially by implementing disaster mitigation strategies. The World Bank and Asian Development Bank estimate that an investment of just $27 million backed up with yearly top-ups to mitigate disasters could minimize losses substantially.

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