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News Outlets Examine Flooding In Pakistan Four Months On

“More than four months after the worst flooding in Pakistan’s history, vast stretches of land are still under water in the province of Sindh, isolating many communities. … The world’s attention has long since moved on from the Pakistani flood story, but there are still more than 1 million people who remain displaced in Sindh alone, said U.N. humanitarian affairs chief Valerie Amos last Friday after touring the flood zone. Jackie Dent, a World Food Program spokesperson, said that although isolated outlying villages are becoming ‘few and far between as waters recede and access improves’ more are still being found,” TIME reports in an article looking at the effects of flooding and the prospects for recovery.

“The really difficult work of rebuilding and recovery will begin after the areas have been drained,” the publication writes, noting recovery funding shortfalls. “Foreign donors have pledged just under half of the $2 billion the U.N. has asked for,” according to TIME. Challenges associated with the Pakistani government’s recovery approaches are also noted (Abouzeid/Mohammad, 12/9).

In an interview with AlertNet, Manuel Bessler, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Pakistan, discussed the recovery challenges four months after the flooding first hit. “We have a protracted humanitarian crisis in the south where we still have one million people displaced because of flooding in the province of Sindh,” Bessler said. “The basic survival items of food, water and sanitation, shelter and healthcare are urgently required,” he said.

“Bessler said water levels in Sindh are not receding – preventing many from going home. … ‘The only way to get rid of the water is through evaporation and since we are now in the winter season … there is little heat available to facilitate evaporation,'” according to Bessler. “He said it was likely that water levels would remain in some parts of Sindh until spring which starts in late February. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of acres in the province are still submerged,” AlertNet reports.

Bessler also discussed the funding shortfall. “Shelter is a key concern as about half of the displaced in Sindh are living in ad hoc settlements close to the dirty, polluted water which has flooded their homes. They just have a plastic sheet to cover them and very poor sanitation,” he said. “We have food to last us for another month or so, but if we don’t get more funds soon, we may have to cut food rations, replace certain food items or even limit food distribution,” he said (Bhalla, 12/9).

Also on Thursday, Amos said remaining floodwaters might not fully recede for another three to five months, the Associated Press/TODAYonline reports (12/10).

“There is a continuing need for a strong financial response, and I want to see attention focused on this immense human tragedy,” Amos said at a news conference, the U.N. News Centre writes. “This is an emergency which will continue for months to come, and considerable relief efforts will continue to be necessary alongside recovery activities and development work,” she said, fresh off the heels of her second visit to Pakistan since the flooding began (12/9).

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