IRC steps up relief efforts as Pakistan flood crisis worsens
The floods inundated around a fifth of Pakistan’s total land area. An estimated 20 million people have been affected. Photo: Peter Biro/The IRC.
The massive scale of the flood disaster in Pakistan continues to grow. As the emergency unfolds in the southernmost province of Sindh, the number of people reported as having been directly affected by the floods is approaching 21 million, according to the Pakistani government.
“The water continues to rise in parts of Sindh and almost one million people have been displaced in the past week alone,” said Tammy Hasselfeldt, who heads the IRC's operations in Pakistan. "The levels of acute diarrhea, respiratory infections, malaria and skin diseases have increased across the flood-hit areas.”
In its latest effort to assist those affected, the International Rescue Committee has started distribution of hygiene supplies in the country’s hard-hit Punjab province. Over 45,000 people have received water purifications tablets, oral rehydration salts and other items designed to help stop the spread of water-borne disease. In the coming weeks, another 28,000 people will receive supplies in Swat and Dera Ismail Khan districts in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The IRC has also brought in fresh water by truck to 12,000 people in eight villages in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Charsadda and Nowshera districts. In the same area, IRC engineers have started the construction of latrines in abandoned schools and other places where people are seeking shelter.
Displaced people in Sukkur, Sindh. Photo: Peter Biro/The IRC.
Meanwhile, 600 people employed by the IRC in the upper Swat area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have cleared and repaired a total of five miles (eight kilometers) of trail devastated by the floods. Around 200,000 people – previously cut off from the outside world after flood waters submerged all roads in the area – will again be able to travel freely. Similar projects are underway in 10 villages in Charsadda and Nowshera districts, employing some 800 workers.
The floods, which began in July as the result of extremely heavy monsoon rains, have ravaged a massive swath of Pakistan, from the mountainous north to its agricultural heartland.