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UK launches initiative to help flood-hit

August 25, 2013
— File photo
— File photo

ISLAMABAD: Seeds, shelter and training will help more than 700,000 Pakistanis recover from devastations they faced during floods in recent years, according to the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).

Over a million people in the southern parts of the country, who are still living without adequate shelter, are at the risk of contracting disease because they are exposed to the vagaries of weather.

DFID Secretary Justine Greening announced on Friday that under a new support programme cash grants would be provided to 50,000 flood-hit families so that they could buy building materials. Training would also be imparted to them so that they might build flood-resistant houses by waterproofing walls with lime plaster.

Seeds, chickens and training in farming skills were also being provided to over 690,000 people to improve availability of food and fodder and enable the affected families to earn their livelihood, he added.

The UK officials were closely monitoring the situation this year as well and had already placed emergency items near the vulnerable areas for quick mobilisation in case of emergency. Such items included emergency shelters, solar lamps and sleeping bags for 15,000 families.

Mr Greening said: “We have emergency supplies already in place for a fast response to this year’s monsoon. In addition to providing crop seeds and training in farming skills to get people back on their feet, the UK is helping them build homes that would stand up to future flooding, breaking the vicious cycle of the annual rains.”

The new initiative by Britain cost at least 18 million pounds and was launched in partnership with organisations like the IOM, HANDS and FAO, he added.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has established an emergency flood operations centre and is working with local health authorities and other partners to ensure a coordinated response to floods.

Nine camps have been set up for more than 2,500 internally displaced people, and 15 mobile clinics and medical camps have been set up in areas where health services are inaccessible or unavailable, according to the WHO staff.

Medicines and medical supplies have been pre-positioned carefully so that they may be quickly delivered to where they are needed most. The WHO has so far provided emergency health kits containing medicines and medical supplies for 152,088 people for three months, as well as anti-snake venom to fill shortages in the affected districts.

Anti-scabies treatments have been provided to the districts reporting high number of scabies cases and other skin infections.

According to the WHO staff, stagnant water increases the risk of water-borne and vector-borne diseases. Disease early warning and response systems (DEWS) have been activated across flood-affected districts, and rapid response teams of the WHO are responding to alerts/outbreaks in the affected areas in close coordination with the health department and non-governmental organisations.

So far, cases of malaria, diarrhoea and gastrointestinal and skin diseases have been reported from the affected areas of Punjab and Balochistan, and acute watery diarrhoea, measles, neonatal tetanus and diphtheria from the affected areas of Thatta.