Families in the flood-affected areas have no choice but to use potentially contaminated water due to the crisis with safe drinking water.
More than 10 million people, including children, still lack access to safe drinking water six months after Pakistan was devastated by catastrophic floods, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported on Tuesday. Families in the flood-affected areas have no choice but to use potentially contaminated water due to the crisis with safe drinking water.
Abdullah Fadil, the UNICEF representative in Pakistan, stated that access to clean drinking water is a fundamental human right, not a privilege. “Yet, millions of boys and girls in Pakistan fight a daily losing battle against curable waterborne diseases and the ensuing malnutrition,” the statement reads.
According to UNICEF, outbreaks of waterborne illnesses like cholera, diarrhoea, dengue, and malaria are becoming “widespread” due to a lack of access to clean drinking water, latrines, and stagnant water. Beyond being a health risk, the lack of adequate restrooms, according to the UN Children’s Fund, “disproportionately affects children, adolescent girls, and women who are at added risk of harm and shame when defecating outdoors.”
Malnutrition also has “key underlying causes” related to unsafe water and subpar sanitation. According to UNICEF, malnutrition is to blame for one-third of all child deaths worldwide, and infections brought on by a lack of access to clean water, proper sanitation, and good hygiene are to blame for 50% of all cases of undernutrition.
More than 1.5 million boys and girls in Pakistan’s flood-affected areas are already severely malnourished, and UNICEF anticipates this number to rise. The cause of half of all child deaths in the nation is malnutrition.
A third of Pakistan’s land mass was submerged in record-breaking flooding last year, which was brought on by intense monsoon rains. More than 33 million people, or one in seven Pakistanis, were affected overall, according to the UN Office there, and 8 million people were displaced, leading to a spike in humanitarian needs.
According to a UN report released on Tuesday, as of March 15, aid organisations had provided food and other necessities to more than seven million flood-affected Pakistanis. To date, UNICEF and partners have helped over 450,000 people by restoring water supply infrastructure and providing safe drinking water to nearly 1.2 million children and families.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres emphasised that “rebuilding Pakistan in a resilient way” will require “supporting women and children, who are up to 14 times more likely than men to die during disasters and face the brunt of upheaval and loss in humanitarian crises,” in his remarks at an international conference devoted to the emergency back in January of this year.
In order to quickly restore access to clean drinking water and restrooms in the flood-affected areas, UNICEF has issued a request for funding ahead of Wednesday’s World Water Day. Additionally, funding is required for climate-resilient water supply infrastructure, such as solar-powered systems. Less than half of the $173.5 million UNICEF appeal for this crisis has been funded.