Two weeks after the first floods hit Pakistan the situation remains extremely dire for millions of people. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is intensifying its activities and remains focused on providing medical care and clean water, and distributing essential items. Assessments are ongoing in these areas, as well as in Punjab Sindh. In addition to scaling up medical activities, MSF teams continue to provide affected families with basic items and drinking water, to help them attain a minimal standard of living conditions and to prevent the spread of diseases. MSF has distributed these kits to 5,143 families (36,000 people) in Kyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan provinces when the disaster relief efforts began and yesterday. Kits generally contain clothes, soap, toothbrushes, towels, razor blades, a bucket, a water container, blankets, a mosquito net, plastic sheeting and tarpaulins. But the kits can be modified according to specific needs at a local level.
“Weather permitting, we will distribute thousands of kits this week in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan,” said Thomas Conan, MSF country representative in Pakistan. “But we fear that too little is being done for affected families. Two weeks after the first floods, people’s needs are immense and are still increasing. Much more must be done for them.” During a distribution of essential items at Khurasan camp for Afghan refugees, people from neighbouring villages came asking for kits because they had not received anything. MSF was able to help 100 more families than planned for that day, but the organization is worried about the lack of aid to be seen. Finding a place to organize distributions is a major challenge amidst the destruction and ongoing floods. Many places are still under water, and a zone that is dry one day might well be under water the next day. Distributions are major logistical undertakings involving tonnes of materials and dozens of trucks so there is very little margin for error.
Mobile clinics and health structures
MSF has provided more than 7,000 consultations to people affected by the floods in different areas since Aug. 1. Of these consultations, 1,800 were done by eight mobile clinics travelling to remote areas or places with a high concentration of people such as schools or camps. Three of the mobile clinics are in Baluchistan (in Dera Murad Jamali, Khabula and Sobhatpur). The four others are in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa(one in Malakand in Swat, one in Lower Dir and two in Charsadda). More mobile clinics will start soon and include coverage in Pir Sabak, near Nowshera. In Baluchistan, the mobile clinic in Khabula identified four children with severe acute malnutrition who were later admitted in Sobhatpur clinic. “At this point, we cannot link these cases of malnutrition to the aftermath of the floods,” said Pierluigi Testa, who manages MSF activities in Baluchistan. “But we will be keeping a close eye on the nutrition issue as the food situation is worrying with harvests threatened by flooded fields. Needs in many parts of remain extremely dire.”
Clean water desperately needed
MSF water and sanitation teams are working hard to provide clean water to communities to prevent disease. In places like Charsadda, Nowshera and Swat, the teams are supporting local authorities to rehabilitate the local water delivery system while trucking water to families who need it. Water points have also been set up in Lower Dir and in eight locations in Swat. In addition, MSF also provides clean water to the district hospital in Lower Dir and Nowshera. Now that the road has been cleared, three water points will be installed in Totakan, Isar Baba and Kalangai in Malakand. Yesterday, the water and sanitation team in Nowshera finished the rehabilitation of a borehole well and managed to extract and distribute 35,000 litres of clean water to the community with trucks. The daily quantity should increase in the next few days. In and around Charsadda, MSF is providing clean water through a combination of 21 mobile water points on trucks and minivans and seven fixed water bladders.
Assessments are taking place daily in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan to identify pockets of people in need of aid. MSF is increasingly worried that a large number of people have yet to receive any kind of assistance, people in both remote areas and in places that are supposed to be easily accessible. Two MSF teams are currently assessing affected areas in the Punjab and Sindh provinces. MSF has sent 110 tonnes of water and sanitation equipment, drugs, medical and logistical material to Pakistan. More relief supplies will be sent as needs are identified. More than 100 international staff are currently working alongside 1,200 Pakistani staff in MSF programs in Pakistan.