– As thousands continue to flee their homes in the face of rising flood waters in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, IOM and its partners in the “cluster” of aid agencies providing emergency shelter are to appeal to international donors for funding to help at least 274,000 families.
The appeal, expected to be launched this weekend, follows Pakistan’s urgent request for international assistance last Thursday and the subsequent deployment of hundreds of cluster teams to assess the extent of the destruction, the numbers of people displaced and their immediate needs.
“Our role is to support the Pakistani government’s massive effort, led by the National Disaster Management Authorities (NDMA), to provide people whose homes have been destroyed with emergency shelter and other essential non-food relief items,” says IOM Emergency Advisor for Asia Brian Kelly.
“The government says that it can provide 150,000 tents. Based on our preliminary estimates, that means that at least 274,000 vulnerable families will be left without emergency shelter, unless we – the international community – step in,” he adds.
Emergency shelter cluster aid is expected to include thousands of plastic sheet-based shelter kits. While tents can provide better protection in the short term, plastic sheet is cheaper, more versatile and can be more useful in the longer term when displaced families return home and use it for waterproofing new shelters and rebuilt homes, says Kelly.
According to the NDMA, some 5.74 million people in all 23 Sindh districts have already been affected by the floods.
Some 925,000 houses have already been damaged or destroyed, together with an estimated 1.6 million acres of crops, and at least 248 people have died.
An estimated 415,195 people are now living in some 2,656 makeshift temporary relief sites, including schools and public buildings, dotted across the province. Thousands are camped out on higher ground or on roadsides.
More heavy rain is expected across Pakistan in the coming days, cutting off many towns and villages across Sindh – a province that has yet to recover from the massive damage to its infrastructure sustained in the 2010 floods – the worst on record. On Tuesday alone, Dadu district experienced 108 mm of rainfall.
IOM has already released to local partners for distribution 18,400 shelter and non-food relief item kits comprising plastic sheeting, ropes, blankets, plastic sleeping mats and cooking utensils to Sindh, following a request from the government.
The kits are currently being distributed to vulnerable people, particularly targeting women and children, in some of the worst-affected districts including Badin, Jamshoro, Mirpur Khas, Thatta, Tharparkar, Shaheed Benazirabad, Ghotki, Naushehro Feroze, Khairpur, Dadu, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allah Yar and Sanghar.
“Displaced people are living in wretched conditions in many of these temporary sites and we need to get emergency shelter to them in the form of tents or plastic sheets as soon as possible,” says IOM Hyderabad Head of Office Arshad Rashid.
“Continuing rain here in Sindh and upstream in Punjab, waterlogged land and high tides mean that water levels are not going to fall anytime soon. Until they do, these people will not be able to go home and will remain very vulnerable,” he adds.