Pakistan: six months after the floods the situation is still difficult

February 16, 2011

In late July 2010, torrential rains battered north-western Pakistan, causing the most extensive flooding for 80 years. In the end a fifth of the territory - 160,000 sq. kmb - were flooded and more than 20 million people affected, half of them children.

© UNICEF / Ramoneda

Pakistan has faced a series of emergencies over the past decade (earthquakes, conflicts, and floods) that have weakened the population. These recent floods revealed and exacerbated an already fragile nutritional situation.

Due to the geographically widespread nature of the crisis, challenges were overwhelming. Other than the obvious need for food and safe drinking water, there was a dire need for healthcare and shelter.

Now, six months later, the waters have receded in most heavily affected areas, but there is massive damage. Displaced people have begun to return home, but too many families are still living in tent camps, and the winter season makes conditions even more difficult.

The Sanofi Espoir Foundation and the Group’s Pakistan affiliate have mobilized quickly to organize emergency operations, with their field partners: UNICEF, Aide Médicale Internationale (AMI), The Edhi Foundation, The Sungi Foundation and The citizens Foundation.

© UNICEF / Ramoneda

The donation of medicines has permitted to treat approximately 1.2 million patients. 32,000 doses of Typhoid vaccine were imported and donated to the governments Expanded Program on Immunization for use in flood-affected populations. The Indian affiliate donated 5,000 vials of Snake Venom Antiserum, which were distributed to private and public sector hospitals.

24 employees of the Pakistan affiliate were impacted by the floods. Some suffered substantial losses while others were temporarily displaced from their homes. Immediate arrangements were made to transport employees to safe locations and sanofi-aventis provided board and lodging for them and their dependants until they were able to return to their homes. Some suffered the partial or complete loss of their homes and/or possessions.

Six months later, our partners are still working in the field and continue to deliver emergency and post-emergency aid.


© UNICEF / Ramoneda

  • Since the floods, children now live under the threat from population movements that have led to an increase in child labor, begging, violence and health problems such as respiratory infections, acute diarrhea, and malnutrition. The level of global acute malnutrition in the Sindh province is well above the WHO emergency threshold: up to 23% in children aged between 6 months and 5 years, while the emergency threshold is 15%.
  • In the area of maternal and infant health, thanks to donations received by UNICEF from 6 months ago, more than 9 million children aged from 6 months to 5 years have been vaccinated against measles and polio. 8.5 million children have received Vitamin A supplements and more than 900,000 mosquito nets have been distributed to pregnant and/or breast feeding women to prevent malaria.
  • Through the support of the Sanofi Espoir Foundation, the association has distributed 2.5 million doses of vitamin A capsules to prevent and treat deficiencies in children, and 5,000 treated mosquito nets to protect families from malaria.

Aide Médicale Internationale

  • AMI has set up an operational action plan to meet the most pressing health needs, especially in Larkana and Qambar Shahdadkot districts where more than amillion households have been affected by the disaster. Today, with sixexpatriates and a local staff of about fifty, the program's main objective is to help reduce the mortality and morbidity of those affected by flooding.
  • Following the recruitment and training of staff in late 2010, the following activities have been carried out:
    • Access to primary health care: three mobile clinics carry out an average of 80 examinations a day. The main diseases treated are respiratory diseases, diarrhea and malaria.
    • Treating moderately acute malnutrition to prevent severe acute malnutrition and reduce the risk of morbidity and mortality in the camps. The target populations are children under 5 and pregnant women.
    • Promoting health and hygiene in the camps. The emphasis is on female staff to address the cultural dimension of the intervention context. Awareness-raising and health education sessions reach about 400 people a week.
  • AMI’s goal is to continuously improve the quality of care by supervising and training local staff. The teams also plan to extend health coverage to reach a larger portion of the population.

Sungi Foundation

The NGO has set up an Emergency Response Fund to support various activities inthe affected areas including:

  • Set up of 13 Medical Camps for 4,662 patients
  • Provision of medicines to the army for treatment of 1,200 patients
  • Road clearance benefiting 10,000 households
  • Distribution of food packages
  • Distribution of shelter kits
  • Distribution of clothing, foot wear, kitchen utensils, water purification tablets, sanitary pads, medicated mosquito nets.

The Citizens Foundation

Leveraging its already established network of schools in the flood-affected areas, the NGO was able to carry out relief activities. Thanks to the Sanofi Espoir Foundation and the sanofi-aventis donation, the Citizens Foundation has purchased, transported and distributed over 20 million meals to flood-hit populations.

Edhi Foundation

The Edhi Foundation is the foremost non-profit organization that has been in the business of providing social services to the disadvantaged since 1951. The donation of the Sanofi Espoir Foundation and the Group helped to bolster the efforts of Edhi Foundation in the following activities:

  • Rescue missions through boat service
  • Food and medicine supplies
  • Temporary shelter provision at Edhi Camp / Edhi Village
  • Mobile laboratories and field medical teams
  • Provision of cooked food to thousands of people

The fate of flood refugees, or “internally displaced people” (IDPs), varies throughout the country. Rural areas were the hardest hit by the floods. The majority of IDPs have returned to what was left of their homes. Pakistan is now in the recovery phase; rehabilitation activities are in progress as people struggle to re-build their lives.