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Follow-up on Pakistan floods

In my continuing effort to return the spotlight periodically to forgotten crises, this just in from Handicap International:

 February 1, 2011


WASHINGTON – For the last six months, Handicap International’s 500-strong team has supported people stricken by the flooding that has devastated Pakistan, affecting 20 million people and damaging 1.7 million homes. The organization is implementing a large-scale program focused on improving access to drinking water and sanitation, and distributing emergency aid to meet the basic needs of the victims, who have largely been forgotten.

Six months after the floods began, the situation remains very serious; 20 million people have been affected. Currently, 170,000 people are still living in camps in addition to those people who, having returned to their villages, continue to live in makeshift shelters, such as tents pitched on the roadside. The Pakistani population remains severely affected by the flooding, facing serious shortages of food and supplies, limited access to medical care and an economy in need of rebuilding.

Flood victims collect water in Pakistan. © Raphael De Bengy / Handicap International

Flood victims collect water in Pakistan. © Raphael De Bengy / Handicap International

The needs remain considerable; according to the Pakistani government, more than 269,345 acres (109,000 hectares) of land remain underwater in Sindh, the worst affected province. The population is still subject to precarious living conditions, made worse by the cold winter weather. Seven million flood victims remain in need of water, sanitation and hygiene services. “It is crucial that Handicap International continues to take action in Pakistan,” explained Stéphane Lobjois, Head of Mission in Pakistan. “The emergency is still not behind us, even though this crisis is not making headlines. That’s why we are committed, more than ever, to supporting the Pakistani people.”

Since August 2, 2010, Handicap International has provided support to more than 250,000 flood victims in Pakistan. Our team of 500 people, including 20 expatriates, has developed a multidisciplinary response to the crisis, focused on improving the living conditions of flood victims in the provinces of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, both of which remain severely affected. To improve access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, Handicap International has installed seven water treatment units, capable of producing drinking water for 150,000 people at 5 liters of water per person per day and installed more than 150 water distribution points and pumps. 

To improve sanitation, a clearance project has been set up in the districts of Hangu, Swat and Kohat (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province) and Thatta (Sindh province), in which the local population take part in clearing rubbish and debris, including stagnant water left behind by  the floods. Such clearance allows the return of the population and limits the spread of disease. More than 200 temporary latrines have also been constructed in Sindh, in a workshop where more than 40 percent of the workers are people with disabilities.

To improve hygiene, we have distributed 19,000 emergency and hygiene kits. These kits allow families to treat and store water, to wash and to cook. To date, 37,000 people have benefited from awareness- raising sessions on the importance of good hygiene in avoiding disease.

We have set up two “Disability Focal Points” and staffed 13 mobile teams to support disabled and vulnerable people in their communities. More than 700 people have also benefitted from psychosocial support activities. Finally, Handicap International has constructed or repaired 250 homes.

Handicap International, present in Pakistan since 2005, launched an emergency mission in response to the floods on August 1, 2010, working in close coordination with other agencies present and ready to act, using $131,800 of our own internal emergency fund to ensure that we could begin to respond immediately. To be able to continue to extend help to the most vulnerable people, Handicap International is relying on the support of everyone.

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