The United Nations has pledged $5.5 million to support emergency nutrition and food security initiatives in the most vulnerable communities of Balochistan and Sindh provinces in Pakistan, which were hit by catastrophic floods last year. The floods caused an estimated loss of $3 billion, resulted in over 1,700 deaths, and displaced eight million people. According to a press release issued by the UN, the number of children suffering from malnutrition in flood-affected areas has significantly increased compared to pre-flood levels.
A rapid survey conducted in 15 flood-affected districts suggested that almost one-third of children aged six to 23 months suffer from moderate acute malnutrition, and 14% from severe acute malnutrition. The number of children admitted to hospitals with medical complications due to severe acute malnutrition has also gradually increased since the floods. As a result, UN Resident Coordinator in Pakistan, Julien Harneis, announced that $5.5 million would be allocated towards emergency nutrition and food security interventions out of the $6.5 million received from the Central Emergency Response Fund. The funds will be used by Unicef, WFP (World Food Programme), WHO, and NGOs to provide emergency nutrition interventions in the most vulnerable communities, with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs ensuring efficient use of the funds.
The UN emphasized 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. The UN further highlighted the need to increase interventions that improve the availability, affordability, and accessibility of nutritious foods that protect children from malnutrition. While the food security and agriculture sector has provided life-saving assistance to nearly 7 million people, and the nutrition sector to nearly 1 million people in the country since last year’s climate disaster, many needs remained unmet.
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In a separate report last month, Unicef warned that over 10 million flood affectees, including children, still lacked access to safe drinking water, contributing to widespread outbreaks of waterborne diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, dengue, and malaria.