ISLAMABAD: As the United Nations Satellite Centre’s imagery indicates an estimated eight million people still potentially exposed to floodwaters or living close to flooded areas, the latest UN report released on Tuesday said floodwaters still present in 11 districts of Sindh and two districts of Balochistan.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance’s report said floodwaters continued to recede in many flood-affected areas of the country, but standing floodwaters continue to be present in Dadu, Kambar-Shahdadkot, Khairpur, Mirpurkhas, Jamshoro, Sanghar, Umerkot, Badin, Shaheed Benazirabad and Naushahro Feroze districts in Sindh, and Sohbatpur and Jafferabad districts in Balochistan.

The report says the floods have had a significant impact on health, particularly for children. Poor sanitation and contaminated water resources are adversely affecting the health and wellbeing of children as cases of diarrhea and other waterborne diseases are still prevalent.

Moreover, overcrowded and makeshift shelters, damaged health infrastructure and inadequate water and sanitation have compounded the risk of measles and rubella, along with waterborne skin and respiratory illnesses.

Eight million people exposed to floodwaters, says report

The floods have exacerbated underlying vulnerabilities that existed in flood-affected areas prior to recent flooding. According to WHO, Pakistan is among the top 10 countries in the world with a large pool of unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children and is home to more than 600,000 children who have not received a single vaccine dose.

The recent floods have compounded the problem, further reducing access to routine immunisation services, especially in flood-affected districts.

Major immunisation service delivery interruptions have been reported in Balochistan and Sindh. A recent need and gaps analysis by partners in the food security sector indicates a persistent and increasing need for emergency food assistance moving into the first quarter of 2023.

The report says a failure to address this need would worsen the already frail food security situation and drive more people into crisis and emergency levels. The food security situation of an estimated additional 1.1 million people is deteriorating and is forecast to fall into the emergency food security phase between January and March 2023.

Evidence from available data indicates that relief response to date has fallen well short of the need, with over 5.1 million people now experiencing IPC 4 conditions in flood-affected areas.

According to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority of Sindh, over 240,000 people remain displaced in the province as of Dec 3, down from 6.5 million in early September. Nearly 90 per cent of flood-displaced people are reportedly with host communities, while the remaining are in tent cities and relief camps.

While receding flood waters have allowed millions of people to return to their homes, there are reports of significant service gaps in areas of return, in addition to exten-sive impacts to homes, agriculture and livelihood.

According to WHO, cases of malaria, cholera, acute watery diarrheal diseases, and dengue fever are declining in most of the flood-affected districts. Overall, malaria cases have reduced to around 50,000 from over 100,000 confirmed cases in early October. Malaria cases have declined by 25pc in Balochistan, 58pc in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 67pc in Sindh.

However, high malaria and cholera cases are still being reported in some districts of Sindh and Balochistan where standing water is the main cause of this problem. In November 2022, around 70 suspected cases of diphtheria were reported from the flood-affected provinces of KP, Sindh and Punjab.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2022

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