ISLAMABAD: As more than half (54 per cent) of the families hit by massive floods in the country are sleeping outside, in tents or makeshift shelters, often no more than flimsy plastic sheets, the catastrophe has rendered around 3.6 million workers jobless, badly impacting the livelihood of more than 33m people.

According to a survey by Save the Children, a UK-based charitable organisation, most of the families surveyed had lost their homes and they were living in squalid conditions near roadsides, using pieces of cloth or tarpaulin for shelter.

The organisation said one in six had no shelter at all, adding that more than half of those surveyed did not have acc­ess to toilets and they were defecating outside in stagnant water, which carried a high risk of spreading serious diseases like cholera and dysentery, a press rele­ase of the aid agency said on Tuesday.

It said floods had decimated water supplies as 80pc of families had repo­rted having not enough clean water and many people had no choice but to drink from contaminated water sources.

Read: Flood aftermath

3.6m workers rendered jobless as floods affect livelihoods of over 33m, says minister

Save the Children Country Director in Pakistan Khuram Gondal said that “Pakistan is now in the grip of a major health emergency, and we are seeing children dying from water-borne diseases every day, and things will only get worse the longer they go on sleeping outside without shelter, food or water”.

The charitable organisation said it was providing emergency relief to families which had lost everything, including food, emergency shelter and medical assistance. The agency is running two medical camps in Swat and Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa where it is providing life-saving medical care to children suffering from flood-related illnesses.

Jobless workers

Meanwhile, Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Sajid Hussain Turi told a press conference on Tuesday that the massive floods, triggered by monsoon rains, had rendered around 3.6 million workers jobless, badly impacting the livelihood of more than 33 million people throughout the country. He was accompanied by an Inter­national Labour Organisation (ILO) representative and labour leaders at the press conference.

“Pakistan’s monsoon floods crisis has impacted livelihood of more than 33 million people around the country. This natural disaster has affected more than one million homes in 84 districts across the country. More than 1,500 people are dead, including children, livestocks are lost, 3.6 million jobs have been lost, and thousands of kilometres of roads and bridges destroyed,” the minister said.

Editorial: Looming shortages

He said that Pakistan had experienced abnormal monsoon rains — nearly 10 times higher than usual. This has resulted in uncontrollable urban and flash floods and landslides all over the country. “Our labourers and daily wage workers are the most affected by this disaster,” he said.

Talking to Dawn, ILO representative Peter Buwembo said the body would conduct a survey to assess the damage caused by the floods, especially to the working class, and how to rehabilitate them.

“The ILO is assisting Pakistan in its response to the worst floods in a decade which have destroyed homes, crops, livelihood and infrastructure, leaving millions of people vulnerable,” Mr Turi said.

“At present, we have been using the government data and providing assistance accordingly,” he said.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2022

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