Pakistan

Vaccinations and safe water provided in the aftermath of southwest Pakistan floods

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Pakistan/2007/Pasha
Hano Bux sits with one of her six children as she recounts the night when the floods hit Khurmastan village in the Khuzdar District of Balochistan.

By Sandra Bisin

BALOCHISTAN, Pakistan, 1 August, 2007 – The village of Khurmastan is an oasis for farmers surrounded by a vast, arid swathe of land. The community normally sees very little rain, so the torrential rains caused by Cyclone Yemyin, which struck in late June, caught most of the population off guard and took a heavy toll on their livelihoods.

“We heard a strange noise, like water roaring. But we could not believe it,” said Hano Bux, a 30-year-old mother of six. “Then the village elders came, shouting, ‘Water is coming! Wake up!’

“In a single night, we lost everything,” she added.

Although no one in Khurmastan died during the flood, the crisis is not over. In the aftermath of the emergency, it is vitally important to provide vaccinations and sanitation supplies to those who were displaced by the floodwaters.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Pakistan/2007/Pasha
A young girl affected by the floods being vaccinated against measles in Khurmastan village, in the Khuzdar District of Balochistan.

Measles campaign

“Measles is a major killer of children, especially in times of emergency,” said UNICEF Health Officer Dr. Muhammad Amjad Ansari. “UNICEF and its partners have planned to vaccinate 124,000 children in flood-affected areas. So far, over 70,000 children have been vaccinated.”

There are seven districts in Balochistan where UNICEF, the World Health Organization and other partners are supporting the government in carrying out a measles campaign. In the village of Khurmastan, the small medical tent that provides vaccinations and immunity-boosting vitamin A capsules is one of the only places that currently offers a cool respite from the sun and hot wind.

“My neighbours told me a vaccination team was coming to our village. I know measles is a killer disease. This is why I decided to bring my children,” says Hajra, a mother who came with her two sons.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Pakistan/2007/Pasha
A boy collects water from a UNICEF water tank in Khurmastan village.

Water and sanitation assistance

The flood swept away homes and belongings as well as water and sanitation facilities in southwest Pakistan. In response, UNICEF and its partners are providing safe water to 125,000 people in both Balochistan and Sindh Provinces.

So far, UNICEF has helped the displaced population in these areas by distributing water purification tablets, buckets and soap, as well as water bladders, tanks and latrines. UNICEF has also restored 55 water supply systems, while another 50 are in the process of being repaired.

“When we reached the village for the first time after the floods, villagers told us that all water and sanitation facilities had all been destroyed,” says Ghulam Ali Baloch of the Balochistan Rural Support Programme, a key UNICEF partner in Khurmastan. “We first distributed water purification tablets to prevent outbreaks of waterborne diseases. And a week later we established three UNICEF water tanks as well as seven latrines, and sensitized communities on good hygiene practices.”

On 23 July, the Australian Government announced that it would contribute nearly $850,000 to UNICEF for immediate water supply and sanitation needs. In addition, the Belgian Government announced that it would contribute $548,000 for UNICEF water and sanitation activities.

Throughout flood-affected the region, UNICEF and other organizations are helping children and their families rebuild their lives. However, much more work remains to be done as the humanitarian crisis continues in the aftermath of the flood.


 

 

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UNICEF Correspondent Amy Bennett reports on the UNICEF-supported campaign to vaccinate children against measles in flood-affected southwest Pakistan.
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