View Full Version : Pakistan: 3.9m children, women need food support

09-06-2010, 11:18 AM
Pakistan: 3.9m children, women need food support By Iftikhar A. Khan ISLAMABAD, (Dawn): Over 2.5 million children under the age of five have been affected by floods, says a report released by an international anti-poverty agency. There are about 1.4 million (eight per cent) pregnant and lactating women among the affected people and over one million are elderly or otherwise vulnerable. The Actionaid report said there was an urgent need for nutrition assistance, especially for young children and pregnant and lactating women. It said also called for community-level programmes to fight acute malnutrition and dissemination of messages on feeding and hygiene for infants and young children in the affected areas. The number of schools being used as shelters has decreased to 5,258 and 1.3 million people are living in them. At least 9,484 schools have been damaged and there is a need to provide temporary structures and supplies such as tents, school-in-a-box kits and recreation kits to ensure continuation of education during the transition period from tents to permanent buildings. Government schools in Punjab are due to reopen on Sept 14. At least 436 health facilities have been damaged or destroyed and there is a need to prevent emerging health threats and outbreaks of diseases and to ensure that essential medical supplies reach affected communities in time. Increased numbers of suspected malaria cases are being recorded in Sindh and Balochistan. UN assessment teams have reported a 20 per cent increase in the use of unprotected water sources and confirmed a widespread need for sanitation assistance. Households have indicated a need primarily for cash grants, material for repair of houses and rehabilitation of lost livelihoods. Movement of people back to their homes in areas where waters are receding requires relief and early recovery responses. Some relief camps are being closed in southern Punjab, including three of the initial 11 camps managed by the army. People in camps are being encouraged to return to their areas in order to register for compensation. Many areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan are still hard to reach or inaccessible. The report says that specific needs of women and children in terms of health, hygiene and protection are not being addressed. There are security risks in some affected areas, including Balochistan and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and southern Punjab. Camps do not offer enough space for people to keep their surviving livestock. Some families have started to return to their damaged houses, while those who have lost their homes are putting up in the camps. There is a serious risk of diseases, including malaria and diarrhoea, spreading in the affected areas. Medical aid is not enough and essential medicines are scarce. The report stresses the need for a plan to ensure the displaced children’s right to education. It calls for immediate launching of cash-for-work programmes to generate income for affected people, decrease their dependence on handouts and kickstart local economies. The Actionaid said it was developing a framework for a longer-term response spanning over three years, covering coordination, financing, protection from violence against women, livelihoods, community participation, climate change, etc.