Mai Shahzadi and her four children are among more than a quarter of a million people living in temporary settlements following monsoon floods that have affected more than 5 million people across Pakistan this year.
Shahzadi, 35, found shelter at a roadside settlement in her village after floods destroyed her house in Qamber Shahdadkot District, Sindh Province, for the second time since 2010. Her husband died three years ago, leaving her alone to fend for her family, including a daughter who has a mental disability.
This year’s floods not only destroyed Shahzadi’s home, but also damaged her ready-to-harvest rice crop and swept away the embroidery materials that were her main way of making a living.
“The floods destroyed my dreams of a better life,” she said. “My children are out of school and we don’t have access to health facilities.”
In Pakistan, many poor tenants like Shahzadi survive on borrowed money as their labour is effectively mortgaged to their landlords. After the floods damaged her house, she borrowed money and sheltered her family under plastic sheeting. The family begged by the roadside before they received humanitarian aid.
OCHA is coordinating humanitarian assistance for flood-affected families in Qamber Shahdadkot and other hard-hit districts. A local NGO called Pirbat provided food baskets for a week to Shahzadi and other families in the village, while Government authorities in the district provided them with tents.
But the food rations have run out, forcing Shahzadi’s family back to the roadside to beg and borrow money at high interest rates for their survival.
The United Nations’ Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated US$9.9 million (PKR 942.2 million) to provide water, food, shelter and healthcare to 1.3 million people in the seven hardest-hit districts of Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh provinces, but more funds are urgently needed.
Humanitarian partners in Pakistan urgently require $169 million to provide immediate aid including food, safe drinking water and health services to 1.3 million people in the three provinces for six months. Basic medicines and health support are needed in 12 districts where 291 of 600 health facilities (49 per cent) have been damaged by the floods.
Standing water continues to pose a public health problem in areas that are still inundated, and safe drinking water is particularly important in areas where people are drinking contaminated water and using it to clean themselves and their eating utensils.
“Many families need urgent assistance. They are suffering due to lack of resources to support them,” said Sandeep Talreja, OCHA’s humanitarian affairs officer in Qamber Shahdadkot District.
With the winter fast approaching and night temperatures falling daily, there is an urgent need for shelter items and winterization packages.
“Humanitarian agencies have assessed the needs of the people affected in the district, but are unable to scale up their response due to funding constraints. The situation is critical and more help is urgently needed,” Talreja said.
Reporting by OCHA Pakistan