Millions of children in Pakistan still need urgent support even a year after deadly flood: UNICEF

One year after floods devastated Pakistan, forcing a national state of emergency, millions of children continue to need humanitarian assistance and access to essential services, UNICEF warned on Friday. Recovery and rehabilitation efforts remain underfunded.

Muriko Bibi (7) and Tehseen (6) sit on the damaged wall of their mud house which was almost destroyed during the 2022 floods in Pakistan. Photo Courtesy: UNICEF/Pakistan/Sami Malik

This season’s monsoon rains are worsening the already challenging conditions in flood-affected communities, tragically claiming the lives of 87 children across the country.

According to the UN agency, an estimated eight million people, half of whom are children, continue to live without access to safe water in flood-affected areas.

Over 1.5 million children require lifesaving nutrition interventions in flood-affected districts, the agency said

Meanwhile, UNICEF’s current appeal of US$173.5 million to provide life-saving support, remains only 57 per cent funded.

"Vulnerable children living in flood-affected areas have endured a horrific year," said Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan. “They lost their loved ones, their homes and schools. As the monsoon rains return, the fear of another climate disaster looms large. Recovery efforts continue, but many remain unreached, and the children of Pakistan risk being forgotten.”

Last year’s floods submerged one third of the country, affecting 33 million people, half of whom were children.

Vital infrastructure was damaged or destroyed – including 30,000 schools, 2,000 health facilities and 4,300 water systems.

The climate-related disaster deepened pre-existing problems for children and families in affected districts.

The agency said one-third of children were already out of school before the floods hit.

By this time, malnutrition had reached emergency levels and access to safe drinking water and sanitation was worryingly low.

Since August 2022, the humanitarian aid agency reportedly reached 3.6 million people with primary health care services; and enabled access to safe water for 1.7 million people in areas where water networks were damaged or destroyed.

The support from the international community enabled it to reach over 545,000 children and caregivers with mental health and psychosocial support.

UNICEF also reportedly supported education for over 258,000 children.

The report also mentions screening of 2.1 million children for severe acute malnutrition – a condition where children are too thin for their height – and admitting 172,000 children for lifesaving treatment.

However, they are yet to meet the required situational demand due to lack of resources.

“UNICEF calls on the Government of Pakistan and partners to increase and sustain investment in basic social services for children and families. We must build back climate-resilient systems that bridge equity gaps and reduce vulnerability to climate shocks. We cannot forget the children of Pakistan. The flood waters have gone, but their troubles remain, in this climate volatile region,” said Fadil.