April 18, 2023
ISLAMABAD – The United Nations on Monday announced that $5.5 million would be dedicated towards emergency nutrition and food security interventions in the “most vulnerable communities of Balochistan and Sindh” impacted by last year’s catastrophic floods.
The disastrous floods of 2022 were the tenth most expensive climate disaster to have buffeted a nation over the last decade, according to risk modelling firm RMS. The floods inflicted an estimated loss of $3 billion on the country, caused over 1,700 deaths and displaced eight million people.
A press release issued by the UN today warned that the number of children suffering from wasting in flood-affected areas had greatly increased compared to the pre-flood situation, which was already reaching emergency levels it pointed out.
It added that a rapid survey conducted in 15 flood-affected districts suggested that “nearly one-third of children aged six to 23 months suffer from moderate acute malnutrition and 14 per cent from severe acute malnutrition”, further saying that the number of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition with medical complications who were admitted for hospital treatment had also gradually increased since the floods as global food prices soared.
As a result, the press release said UN Resident Coordinator in Pakistan Julien Harneis announced that he would dedicate $5.5m out of the $6.5m allocation received from the Central Emergency Response Fund towards emergency nutrition and food security interventions.
“This additional $5.5m will help Unicef, WFP (World Food Programme), WHO and NGOs provide emergency nutrition interventions as part of the government-led flood response in the most vulnerable communities of Balochistan and Sindh, with OCHA (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) coordinating and ensuring that the funds are used in an efficient manner,” the press release reads.
Harneis said child wasting was already reaching “emergency levels” even before the floods but what he was witnessing now in villages was “very worrying”.
“We are grateful for the global community’s support so far, but much more is needed to help the government provide the increasing numbers of children who are at risk of death with immediate therapeutic food and care.
“We must help the government avert a nutrition crisis which would have dangerous and irreversible consequences for millions of children, and for the future of Pakistan,” the press release quoted him as saying.
It added that additional funding was “urgently required” to implement early identification, integrated prevention and treatment of malnutrition in a greater number of villages and healthcare facilities since only one-third of the nutrition interventions included in the Floods Response Plan were funded so far.
“There is also a need to increase the number of interventions that improve availability, affordability and accessibility to nutritious foods that protect children from wasting,” the UN stressed.
It pointed out that the food security and agriculture sector had provided “life-saving assistance” to nearly 7m people and the nutrition sector to nearly 1m people in the country since last year’s climate disaster but many needs remained unmet.
Last month, Unicef warned that over 10m flood affectees, including children, still lacked access to safe drinking water.
Unicef had warned that the prolonged lack of safe drinking water and toilets, along with the continued proximity of vulnerable families to bodies of stagnant water, was contributing to widespread outbreaks of waterborne diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dengue and malari