A United Nations-sponsored appeal for $816 million aid to meet the urgent needs of 9.5m people affected by unprecedented floods has received less than 14 per cent funding. The UN agencies and multilateral institutions have estimated catastrophic human development impact and health crisis over the short to long term.

The Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) prepared by the UN agencies, the European Union, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank with the support of the planning commission has assessed that decades of gains in terms of human development would stand reversed.

Preliminary estimates of disaster impact on lives and livelihoods suggest that the national poverty rate will increase by 3.7 to 4.0 percentage points, pushing between 8.4m and 9.1m people into poverty as a direct consequence of the floods. Similarly, multidimensional poverty will increase by 5.9 percentage points — from 37.8pc to 43.7pc — meaning that an additional 1.9m households will be pushed into non-monetary poverty.

Beyond the national average, poverty in Sindh would increase by between 8.9 and 9.7 percentage points and in Balochistan by between 7.5 and 7.7 percentage points. Moreover, the depth and severity of poverty will increase for households already poor before the floods.

Vulnerable groups such as women, children, people with disabilities and refugees are likely disproportionately affected

The poverty gap has risen substantially, with the number of extremely poor people living more than 20pc below the poverty line increasing from 18m to 25–26m.

The impact on household welfare will come through at least four channels. This includes loss of household income and employment/livelihoods due to destroyed harvest, killed livestock, or inactivity of businesses.

Another factor is the loss of assets, including homes, livestock, productive equipment, and household durables, amidst rising food prices. Shortages of food will arise from lost food stocks and poor harvests. Disease outbreaks, food shortages and prolonged school closures will cause a loss of human capital.

The size and duration of shocks will vary across locations and households. Even in the best-case scenario, reversing these negative shocks to household welfare will take considerable time. And some losses, such as losses to human capital and loss of land productivity, could set in motion more durable declines in welfare and will require specific attention.

Vulnerable groups such as women, children, people with disabilities, and refugees are likely disproportionately affected by the floods, given their dire circumstances and limited access to social protection and coping mechanisms. The impact of the floods is likely to exacerbate already existing gender inequalities, revealing serious differences in safety, education, decision-making, and employment.

More than 800,000 Afghan refugees currently live in calamity-hit districts in Pakistan. These refugees are likely to be poorer than community members, have fewer assets, live in camps with poor basic services, and depend on humanitarian assistance.

Furthermore, 3.8m people with disabilities live in the calamity-hit districts and face discrimination in education, employment, housing and transport, and other social services.

Beyond the increase in monetary poverty, the 2022 floods will have a detrimental impact on human development outcomes, potentially deepening existing inequities across households and individuals.

The floods will trigger substantial losses to human capital (education and health) with an increased incidence of stunting and learning losses, which will have a long-lasting impact on productivity and resilience unless addressed during the rehabilitation phase.

An additional 1.2m households with children between six and 11 years of age will be prevented from attending school, with girls’ education disproportionately deprioritised at the household level. This will significantly disrupt and, in some cases, halt their formal education.

In addition to learning loss, school closures have impacted children’s mental health, reduced their access to a regular source of nutrition, and increased their risk of abuse. This situation further increases young girls’ vulnerabilities and chances of unintended pregnancy and early and forced marriages.

In addition, recent infant and maternal health gains may be reversed, undermining efforts to reduce poverty. There will be an increase in the proportion of households deprived of access to health facilities (such as clinics and basic health units) from 31.4pc to 34.9pc, representing an additional 1.2 million households.

As a result, an additional 5.5m households with children under five will not be fully immunised, leaving children at risk of deadly and preventable diseases. An additional 2.8m households with newborns will be deprived of ante-natal check-ups and post-natal care.

Furthermore, 1.5m households will be deprived of clean water and sanitation, placing more pressure on overstretched healthcare services, thus perpetuating a vicious cycle of disease and poverty. Women will be disproportionately impacted, given their role as water and solid waste managers at the household level and as caregivers. The floods will likely aggravate the burden on women’s duties and increase their vulnerability in terms of both health and personal safety.

Preliminary estimates suggest that additional 7.6m people face food insecurity at the national level, increasing from 7m to 14.6m people, as a result of loss of production and price increases. The highest number of food insecure people are in Sindh (8.2m), followed by Balochistan (2.4m), KP (2.3m) and Punjab (1.7m).

Delays in the sowing of rabi crops, particularly wheat, are likely to reduce food availability further and drive price increases in the coming months, making access to food more difficult, particularly for low-income groups in hard-hit areas.

Food shortages and widespread disease associated with increased deprivations of access to safe drinking water and sanitation will likely significantly impact stunting rates in the long term. Children from the poorest households (lowest 20pc wealth status) face the brunt of poor nutritional status, with a 43pc likelihood of stunting.

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, October 31st, 2022

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