More than six months passed since the humanitarian community was called upon to respond to the expansive needs of communities afflicted by the 2011 monsoon season. More than 1.2 million displaced individuals have returned to the places they call home. Unfortunately, with damages to homes and agricultural lands and the remnants of standing water still present, communities are far from recovery. With thousands of families still without access to proper sanitation, food, and shelter, the living conditions across the most severely affected districts are alarming.
A month ago, Pakistan’s government and the United Nations launched an early recovery framework requesting for $440 million to support more than 200 projects. As the humanitarian community in Pakistan struggles to assist communities into recovery, it must also bridge the gaps that remain due to less than 50% funding for the original appeal launched in September 2011. While livelihood restoration remains an essential element of recovery, helping communities to gain basic access to food and nutrition, health services, shelter, and water and sanitation also remains critical.
Church World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan assisted 23,142 families since the start of the emergency through distributions of food packages, nonfood items (NFIs), hygiene kits, and shelter kits. Ongoing health services have also provided close to 70,000 individuals with access to quality health services and thousands more to essential health awareness on a wide range of topics.
The lack of funding interest and shrinking humanitarian space in Pakistan mean that the humanitarian community must overcome additional challenges so that communities can quickly begin recovery. Due to these limitations, it is imperative that any humanitarian action be planned and implemented in the most accountable, transparent way so that efficiency and effectiveness are maximized. CWS-P/A’s objectives are also in accordance with the overall focus in Pakistan—that reducing vulnerability and risks to future disasters is an underlying step in helping disaster-affected communities. CWS-P/A also emphasizes that capacity building at the community level is essential in ensuring disaster risk reduction and sustainability of recovery initiatives. For this reason, capacity building and risk awareness are integrated into all projects. These include the mobile knowledge resource center (MKRC) that travels to remote areas imparting knowledge on safer housing construction, risk reduction, and disaster preparedness. The combination of awareness, structural reconstruction and other hard components, and livelihood restoration is what will define the permanence and sustainability of the overall humanitarian intervention.
The international community must not forget the thousands of flood-affected families who have returned home but still have no house, no food, and limited resources to access all basic rights. Assistance is required to prevent further escalation of a worsening humanitarian crisis related to food security and to help communities be better prepared for the 2012 monsoon season. The commitment, human resource, and knowledge are available in Pakistan to help communities make recovery a reality for thousands of families, but without sufficient funding, major gaps will exist on the road to recovery.
CWS-P/A appreciates the support it received from its international partners not only for the 2011 flood response but also for the longer term commitment to help Pakistan recover following years of frequent disasters. Continued support is essential not only to meet the immediate needs but to also foster the longer term development goals in Pakistan. While disasters cannot be controlled, the offset they have to progress can be minimized through disaster preparedness and a continued commitment to ensure and protect access to basic rights.