Shelter Agencies Race to Catch Up As Floods Worsen in Punjab, Sindh
As flood waters pour into Pakistan’s heartland of Punjab and Sindh, more emergency shelter aid is reaching the victims. But the numbers displaced by the disaster - 20 million and rising in an area the size of Italy – far exceeds the combined capacity of the government and aid agencies provide immediate relief.
According to the Emergency Shelter Cluster of 40 local and international aid agencies working with the government to deliver emergency shelter and other non-food relief items to flood victims, 98,000 tents and 72,000 plastic sheets have now been distributed to provide shelter for 134,000 families.
The cluster, which is coordinated by IOM and includes UN agencies, ICRC/IFRC and local and international NGOs, has ordered another 77,000 tents and 281,000 plastic sheets, which are expected to arrive in the coming days and weeks, to provide shelter for another 218,000 families.
But according to the National Disaster Management Authority (NADM) at least 891,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed. This means that another 488,000 homeless families may need additional help – either from the government or from international donors.
The greatest current need is in Punjab, where 484,000 families are still waiting for shelter aid, and in Sindh, where 176,000 homeless families have not yet received tents or plastic sheet to shield them from the ongoing rain and occasional blazing sun.
Another 24,000 families in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), 5,000 in Baluchistan , and nearly 5,000 in Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PAK) are in the same position, according to Emergency Shelter Cluster Information Manager Wan Sophonpanich.
“One of the major constraints, in addition to access problems caused by washed out roads and bridges, is procurement of tents and shelter grade plastic sheet in Pakistan. There is not enough of either in country and bringing them in from abroad in these huge quantities takes time,” she notes.
The government and cluster agencies may have also underestimated the extent of the damage in densely populated Punjab and Sindh when they appealed for USD 105 million from the international community last week to provide tents, plastic sheet, and other non-food relief items such as blankets and kitchen sets for some 300,000 families over three months.
“The government is leading the flood response and the appeal aims to define how the shelter cluster agencies can best support its efforts. It is based on the needs we knew about and the capacity that we had on the ground almost two weeks ago. But this disaster is still evolving into something of unprecedented proportions and so the scale of the international response is still a work in progress,” says International Organization for Migration (IOM) Pakistan Emergency Response Manager Brian Kelly.
IOM Pakistan is ramping up its capacity to handle incoming donations in kind, warehousing, onward transportation and distribution of goods from incoming relief flights. Over the past week it has handled eight flights – four from the UK, three from the US and one on behalf of the United Nations.
Cargoes have included 14,000 plastic sheets and 17,000 blankets donated by USAID’s Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and flown into Islamabad. IOM trucked the consignment to Multan in Punjab province, and its distribution, together with IOM-procured kitchen sets, to flood-displaced families in Muzaffargarh district is now ongoing. IOM is partnering with local NGOs, SPO and NRSP to distribute the aid.
Another airlift of 6,550 shelter kits (13,100 plastic sheets and ropes) also donated by OFDA, will be completed in Karachi tomorrow. The shelter kits will be distributed together with 13,100 IOM-procured blankets and 6,550 IOM-procured kitchen sets by IOM and partner agencies from Sukkur in Sindh province.
The Emergency Shelter Cluster of 40 local and international aid agencies working with the government to deliver emergency shelter and other non-food relief items, which is coordinated by IOM, works to a standard that tries to provide a minimum of two 24ft x 20ft plastic sheets, two blankets and one kitchen set for each homeless family.
Over the past week IOM has also taken delivery of 1,500 family tents, 9,000 plastic sheets, 48,500 blankets and 24,000 buckets donated by the UK Department for International Development (DFID.)
IOM trucked the aid to Charsadda and Nowshera, two of the worst-hit areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), and is currently distributing it with the help of NGO partners, including Save the Children, Johanniter International and People in Need Foundation.
IOM is also handling incoming UN relief shipments on behalf of partner agencies, including UNICEF and WHO, and providing trucks to the government to support the distribution of government aid, including donations in kind from abroad.
In response to a request from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) it provided 10 trucks to transport shelter materials, water purifiers, food, medicine and other donations in kind from Islamabad to KPK and Punjab.
It has also provided 10 trucks to the Commissioner of Multan’s office to help to distribute government aid in some of the hardest hit areas of Muzaffargarh and Rajanpur districts in Punjab.
In addition to ramping up its logistics capacity, IOM is also expanding its coordination role as the lead agency in the Emergency Shelter Cluster. It has established new cluster hubs in Multan for Punjab, and Sukkur for Sindh, in close cooperation with the NDMA, the respective Provincial Disaster Management Authorities (PDMAs) and partner agencies.
It is also expanding a mass communications outreach program set up for conflict-displaced people in KPK in 2009. The program will target flood-affected communities nationwide with radio public service announcements on topics including avoiding diarrhea and malaria, mother and child health during the fasting month of Ramazan, treating snake bites, setting up durable shelters and fire safety in camps.