ISLAMABAD: Six mon­ths since extreme flooding submerged one-third of Pakistan, five million people remain living in flooded areas, while food insecurity and malnutrition ac­­ro­­ss the country has intensified, the International Res­cue Commit­tee (IRC) has said.

The IRC is warning that an estimated 14.6 million people are in need of food assistance, including 8.6 million people who are experiencing an extreme level of food insecurity and are facing impossible decisions on how to cope, skipping meals and selling off assets.

As winter takes hold and temperatures drop to below freezing, many communities affected by the floods now face the daunting challenge of surviving without housing, food, clean water and fuel sources for warmth.

Since the floods started in July 2022, the IRC scaled up its emergency response and is now present in 20 districts, delivering lifesaving assistance including shelter, health services, eme­rgency cash assistance, ‘winterisation’ and dignity kits and the provision of safe drinking water, to almost one million people.

IRC Director for Pakistan Shabnam Baloch said since the floods started, families across the country have struggled to make ends meet, particularly as much of the country’s farmland and agriculture have been irreparably damaged by the rains.

“Pakistan represents another example of a failure to confront the shared global risks posed by the climate crisis. The world cannot continue to look away from these catastrophic events striking the most vulnerable countries, many of whom hold little responsibility for the climate crisis but experience all of the consequences: hunger, malnutrition, lack of safe drinking water, and loss of livelihood,” she said.

“Fragile states like Pakistan — which accounts for less than one per cent of global emissions — are ground zero for the climate crisis and we need to proactively invest in adaptation and prevention measures to prevent the next flood from becoming as damaging as the last flood,” she said. “The country is also particularly vulnerable to climate shocks but has little capacity to invest in preventative infrastructure.”

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2023

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