As the flood emergency deepens in Pakistan, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) says 358 people have died and over 1.7 million people are affected in the country. In Punjab, 281 people have lost their lives, in Azad Jammu & Kashmir 64 people died, and 13 passed away in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Many women and children are in dire need of help. Many of them continue to remain without food, shelter, and are in need of health assistance. Saira from Azad Kashmir shares that she along with other community members continue to live with minimum support. She also shared concerns about families who worry about coping with winter in the coming months. “With nothing to warm them, life is going to get very tough especially for women and children in these tents.”
Saira says that some community members received tents from a local organization and food was supplied by philanthropists. As she emphasized about food supplies soon running out and that tents alone were not sufficient, she also stressed upon the absence of bathing facilities and latrines. Saira mentioned this added to the vulnerabilities women were already facing without proper shelter.
Her neighbor Shahnaz Begum said, “We do not know where to seek shelter once we are made to leave this temporary tent settlement. There is nowhere to go.”
Women face additional health risks during emergency situations. Complications and death related to pregnancy and childbirth are a concern; even under non-emergency situations, pregnancy and childbirth are one of the leading causes of death, disease, and disability for women in Pakistan. This is because of limited or no access to health facilities and low awareness levels. With assessment still underway in Pakistan, an exact figure of pregnant women is not yet available. During CWS-P/A’s provision of medical services through a mobile health unit in Azad Kashmir, a total of 68 women received assistance for antenatal care and 15 women were assisted with postnatal care. As affected women are also unable to access food, the risk of acute malnourishment and other illness remain high.
It is not just through the social lens that women are affected but also economically. Due to the destruction of agricultural land and livestock, many women will have to manage their households on lowered incomes. Saira, who earned Rs. 6,000 – 8,000/month (USD 61-82) as a sanitary worker, commented further on the loss of income. “This will make the journey back to recovery including rebuilding our home very tough.”
CWS-P/A will be assisting 249 flood-affected families in the districts of Bagh and Haveli in the next few days. The distribution is made possible through the generous support from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).
In Bagh District, the distribution of food and NFIs to 175 families (1,295 individual) was completed. All distributed items are based on Sphere standards and designed to meet the average-sized family’s (7-8 members) needs. This distribution is made possible through financial contributions from members to the ACT Appeal launched on September 9. The ACT Appeal which aims to assist 2,000 families with food for three months, 1,000 with non-food items, 400 shelter kits, and 3,000 families (22,200 individuals) with health assistance in three districts of Azad Kashmir requires immediate support to ensure timely assistance to affected families.
An immediate week-long response by CWS-P/A’s health team which included a doctor, a lady health visitor, and a medical dispenser assisted affected community members in Bagh District, Azad Kashmir. A total of 793 people have received emergency medical consultations and free medicines. As many as 68 women received antenatal care (ANC), 15 received postnatal care (PNC), and 148 children under age five received assistance. The health teams conducted six health education sessions attended by 94 community members.
Mobilization efforts have engaged village organizations (VOs) in Thatta District and Sujawal District. The VOs have pre-positioned their teams to actively respond in case of possible floods with evacuation and safety measures. They have gathered their necessary documents, emergency kits, and other resources provided through CWS-P/A’s project. Safety messages have also been disseminated along with emergency contact numbers to community members.
Furthermore, quality and accountability will be enhanced through capacity building initiatives for aid workers and for affected communities in accessing accountable aid services. A complaints response mechanism is in place to encourage communities to launch complaints if necessary during interventions. CWS-P/A continues to monitor the situation in other parts of the country and subjected to the need, will expand its operations to other affected regions.
CWS-P/A continues to monitor the situation in other parts of the country and subjected to the need, will expand its operations to other affected regions.