4 ways UNICEF is delivering for Pakistan’s children
Historic floods have been devastating. UNICEF is on the ground, working with partners to support families.
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The scale of the devastation caused by historic monsoon rains in Pakistan is difficult to comprehend. Around 33 million people have been impacted by the ‘super floods’ – the worst flooding in more than a century – which have left at least 3.4 million children in need of life-saving support.
Young children are living in temporary shelters or out in the open with their families, with no drinking water, no food, and no livelihood, exposed to a wide range of new flood-related risks and hazards – including from damaged buildings, drowning in flood waters and snakes. The vital infrastructure that children rely on has been destroyed and damaged, including thousands of schools, water systems and health facilities.
UNICEF has been on the ground since the crisis began, supporting the Government of Pakistan’s flood response, dispatching emergency supplies, and delivering support to children and families who need it the most.
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1. Delivering safe water and hygiene supplies
The second wave of the disaster is already hitting hard with outbreaks of watery diarrhoea, typhoid and malaria now increasing rapidly as millions of people sleep in temporary shelters or in the open near stagnating water. Many people are forced to drink contaminated water and practice open defecation. The dangers of mosquitoes, snakebites, skin, and respiratory diseases are also rising.
“The water took my hens, my goat, my books and my bag.”
UNICEF is trucking in safe drinking water, installing water filtration plants, and restoring damaged or destroyed water systems. UNICEF is also reaching thousands of people affected by the floods with hygiene kits and information, and water purification tablets.
2. Supporting good nutrition
The floods impacted parts of Pakistan where children already suffered some of the highest rates of chronic and acute malnutrition. In some areas 40 per cent of children already suffered from stunting, caused by chronic undernutrition, before the floods hit. Increases in diarrhoea and decreased access to food following the floods are compounding pre-existing poor nutrition.
“I can’t sleep at night when I think about their hunger.”
UNICEF has reinforced its ongoing nutrition programmes in the four provinces affected by the flooding and has also initiated new responses in the badly affected districts of Balochistan and Sindh. For example, UNICEF has established outpatient therapeutic feeding programmes that have reached thousands of children and pregnant and lactating women.
3. Helping children access learning
Thousands of schools across the country have been damaged or destroyed due to the floods, compounding the disruption to learning many children experienced during COVID-19 pandemic school closures.
“I used to go to the school, but now there is no school, no teacher.”
UNICEF has established temporary learning centres in flood-affected districts, reaching children with education services and supplies including recreation kits, blackboards, school bags, tents and face masks.
4. Providing psychosocial support
Any emergency on this scale increases risks for children, undermining their resilience and psychosocial wellbeing and leaving many in shock and experiencing severe distress from having witnessed the devastation, lost their loved ones, their homes, and cherished possessions.
“We need to be patient and help them feel safe again.”
The child-friendly spaces and temporary learning centres that UNICEF is establishing aren’t just about helping children continue their education – they also bring back a sense of normalcy to children’s lives and help them cope with the trauma.
With millions of people displaced, UNICEF is working with partners to ensure that children who are separated from parents or caregivers are identified, protected and reunited with their families. UNICEF is also working in communities to provide information on child protection risks and available child protection services, supporting community-based mental health and psychosocial support.
Climate change is making extreme weather events such as the floods in Pakistan more frequent and more destructive, and it is children who are too often paying the price. Read more about UNICEF’s response in Pakistan here, as well as our work around climate change.
Donate to support UNICEF’s work in Pakistan