SAMANTHA LUNDIN WRITES – 2010 and now 2022… Pakistan is devastated by floods once again. Millions of lives are affected, with over a thousand dead, including pregnant women and children. These monsoon rains and floods came after the deadly heatwave that may have exacerbated the conditions for the flooding. Satellite images show that the worst affected areas are along the Indus River in the provinces of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Sindh. The floods, which cover about one-third of Pakistan, have submerged many villages underwater.
While most Pakistani women give birth at home, these devastating floods have made a dangerous situation worse. Thousands of pregnant women forced to flee their homes are now in need of proper medical and maternity services but the floods have severely impacted Pakistan’s already unstable healthcare system and infrastructure. They are prone to more pregnancy-related health problems, while proper nutrition and even incubators for newborn babies are lacking, leaving mothers scared. In addition, the scarcity of supplies has grown and there remains an insufficient number of medical personnel in some hospitals. Many hospitals have become inoperable as the floods quickly ruined them, since they were never properly built.
It is believed that corruption and greed play a key role in Pakistan’s weak infrastructure. Officials are calling for legal action, as so very many hotels and bridges have washed away. Chief Of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa exclaimed that legal action should take place against those who permitted such inadequate constructions.
What’s more, the relentless monsoon rains that set off this mass flooding have put over 3.4 million children at risk for waterborne diseases, drowning, and malnutrition. Families have been left to find shelter in tents along the roads while children are separated from family members scouring for aid. International organizations such as UNICEF are quickly working to deliver aid to pregnant women and children in Pakistan by delivering supplies, sanitation services, shelters, hygiene kits, clothes, drinking water, and food, but they will not be able to aid everyone.
This flood is creating unimaginable repercussions, but do enough people care? Much of the international community is turned toward Ukraine. World Health Organization Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebre acknowledges that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is globally significant but that other urgent humanitarian crises in countries such as Pakistan, Ethiopia and Syria cannot be overlooked. And so, the United Nations announced a flash appeal for $160 million to meet the current humanitarian crisis in Pakistan. The U.S. distributed $50 million, the European Union provided $1.8 million, Germany pledged $13 million, and the United Kingdom announced $17.3 million.
With the world’s attention and resources so diffuse, how long will the road to recovery be for Pakistan? How long will it take for the world to focus once again on crises such as climate change and the drastic situation facing Pakistan now?