Pakistan is experiencing the worst flooding since 1929, which has left more than 1,400 people dead and 2.5 million temporarily displaced.Disaster Response Pakistan Red Crescent Society’s relief and medical teams have been actively responding to needs since July 21 when the flooding first affected areas of northern Baluchistan. The local Red Crescent has a strong network of branches in all flood-affected provinces, as well as 150 trained disaster response team members, 35 disaster management cells and 20 mobile health units. They have considerable experience gained from previous major disasters including the recent floods caused by Cyclone Yemyin.
The flooding has been caused by heavier than usual, sustained monsoon rains in northwestern parts of the country, with the situation particularly severe in the vicinity of the Indus river which runs through all six flood-affected provinces. Since late July, the flooding has worsened significantly in the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Punjab provinces.
Although in some areas the waters are beginning to recede, the situation could worsen, particularly in the south of the country, with more rains forecast through the week.
Food, clean drinking water, tents and medical services remain the most urgent needs. So far, the Pakistan Red Crescent has provided thousands of people with food packs, relief items and tents from its prepositioned supplies. The American Red Cross has committed an initial $100,000 to support their ongoing relief efforts targeted at the most vulnerable populations, including women and children.
Local Red Crescent volunteers and international teams will also help address the weakened health infrastructure.
"One of our priorities at the moment is to do what we can to prevent the spread of water-borne disease," said Bernadette Gleeson, a health delegate based in Islamabad with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). "…By restoring water systems to working order and distributing such items as soap and wash basins, we hope to ward off many of the health problems that could arise if large numbers of people had to use contaminated water supplies."
The ICRC is providing support for 10 medical teams enabling the Pakistan Red Crescent to address the healthcare needs of many of the displaced in flood-affected areas. As a precaution, the ICRC already has tents, beds, treatment facilities and medicines to treat up to 600 people in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, ready for use in the event of an outbreak of cholera. Additional health staff and medicines will also be available should they be required.
Over the next nine months, the collective global Red Cross and Red Crescent network plans to support the local Red Crescent in its plans to aid 25,000 families with relief items, emergency healthcare, access to safe drinking water, sanitation services and psychosocial support. As part of these efforts, 5,000 families are expected to receive basic shelter support in the form of tools and building materials.