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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pakistan Update - Preventing a second wave of deaths in the wake of severe flooding

The flooding that devastated northwestern Pakistan this month has been called the worst natural disaster in the country’s history. It is also the world’s second worst flooding in the past decade. Over 1,600 people have been killed and more than 14 million people are affected. Now, Pakistani authorities are warning that there could be renewed flooding in the province of Sindh in the coming days.

Even as the floodwaters in Kyhber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) finally start to recede, the nightmare is not over. As they continue to wade through the pools of muddy water surrounding their emergency camps, survivors are facing a new and more deadly threat: lack of clean water to drink.

Wells, streams, and springs have been contaminated; water pipes and taps have been damaged and shut off. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Pakistan reported today that a second wave of deaths due to water-borne diseases and dehydration is imminent without an immediate response. Respiratory infections and malnutrition will also become bigger problems in the coming weeks. Deaths caused by these illnesses will greatly outnumber the deaths caused by the flood itself.

HOPE International Development Agency is responding to the imminent threat by funding the installation of water pumps in and around emergency camps in Nowshera, which has been among the districts hardest hit by the flooding. The pumps will provide safe water to thousands of people. Medicines and medical supplies to treat water-borne diseases, infections, and dehydration have already arrived in Pakistan and will continue to be replenished over the coming months.

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