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Oxfam Report: Pakistan flooding crisis could worsen

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image Displaced Pakistani girls wait for food at an army relief camp in Punjab province, Pakistan, Photo: mdmission/flickr. Aug. 25, 2010.

Malnutrition and homelessness are a continuing threat to victims of the July 2010 floods that stuck Pakistan. The flooding covered one-fifth of the country and put 14 million in urgent need of assistance.

In a report released today, six months after the floods, Oxfam said the disaster exposed the vulnerability of Pakistan’s poor and that reconstruction and comprehensive reform could be a “transformative moment” for the country. However, current government policies, relief organization coordination, and level of international financial help are not heading in that direction and more health emergencies loom. Oxfam is urging the government of Pakistan to reconsider its plan to end emergency relief operations in most areas as of January 31, 2011.

“Pakistan could salvage a new beginning from the debris of this disaster. If the country invests in disaster risk reduction then the devastation wrought by this disaster could be consigned to history. With bold steps - like redistributing land - a fairer and stronger country could emerge. We must seize this chance to address the causes of inequality and poverty to build back a better and more resilient Pakistan.” -- Neva Khan, head of Oxfam in PakistanAchievements of the relief effort

The relief effort was substantial according to Oxfam. More than 1.5 million people were rescued by military and civilian personnel, and aid -- in the form of money, food, tents, water, hygiene items, and other essentials -- was distributed to more than 1.4 million households by aid workers, troops, government staff, and Pakistani volunteers as of November 2010.

International donations did not keep pace with other disasters

Oxfam called the international donor response “patchy” and “disappointing.” According to the report, the United Nations appeal for emergency assistance  garnered aid equal to about $3.20 for each flood survivor. In contrast, about $495 was donated per capita for the victims of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake.

The UN appeal for $2 billion to rebuild Pakistan remains only 56 percent funded.

Continuing threats

  • Many homes and agricultural lands in the south are still under water
  • High malnutrition rates
  • Widespread lack of adequate shelter and many in the north are displaced with nowhere to go due to the violent conflicts
  • Food crisis looms due to severely damaged farmlands

Oxfam briefing paper: Six months into the floods: Resetting Pakistan's priorities through reconstruction, January 26, 2011

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