The number of people going hungry has soared by an alarming 45% since floods wreaked havoc across much of the country, rising from 5.96 million people before the floods hit to 8.62 million people now facing crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity – the majority of them in flood-affected regions.
Hunger levels are expected to rise further with the onset of winter, putting millions of young lives at risk if urgent action is not taken, Save the Children warned.
The floods devastated crops and livestock and, with goods scarce, prices have spiked. The cost of basic food items soared since the floods, making them unaffordable for many families who are living on next to nothing after losing their homes and incomes.
New research to be published next week by Save the Children found that 86% of families surveyed have lost their incomes since the floods, leaving them unable to afford food. The aid agency said families were resorting to desperate measures to survive – going into debt or selling what little they have left to buy food, relying on charity, or sending their children to work.
A quarter of desperate parents said they had been forced to send their children out to work to earn an income. Incidents of child marriage were also reported – 55 parents told Save the Children they had married off one of their children since the floods. Around the same number said they had no choice but to send their children out begging so that they could buy food.
Zainab, 54, from Sindh province, has been left struggling to feed her seven children after the floods destroyed her home and the few belongings they had. The children’s school was also destroyed, which means they haven’t been getting a daily free school meal, and Zainab is worried about how they will survive.
“Before, the people in our village would help me with food, clothes and sometimes money which helped me to survive and provide for my children. But since the floods, I’m worried as everyone in the village seem to be in the same situation as us. That means less help, or almost no help, for my children and me,” said Zainab.
Humaira, 14, lives with her family in Sindh Province. The family had to flee their home to escape the floods and lost all their crops in the devastation. Now they are living in a nearby village and, with no source of income, Humaira is worried about how they will afford food.
“When the floods hit, we ran from our home to save our lives and left everything else behind: Our house, our clothes, the things we need to live. Now we don’t have enough money and we don’t have enough food,” said Humaira.
Earlier this week, the UN announced a five-fold increase in the aid appeal for the floods from US $160 million to $816 million. Save the Children urged donor governments to release funds as soon as possible, as time is running out to halt a secondary crisis of hunger and disease.
Save the Children’s Country Director in Pakistan, Khuram Gondal said:
“The true devastation caused by these foods is becoming clearer every day. As well as dealing with the wreckage, the country is now facing a full-blown hunger crisis. We simply cannot allow a situation where children are starving to death because we did not act quickly enough.
“The people of Pakistan have suffered enough, without losing their children to hunger and disease. We urge governments to send more aid to Pakistan as soon as possible, so we can get help to the millions of families who need it.”
Save the Children is providing emergency relief to families like Zainab and Humaira’s, including food, emergency shelter and medical assistance. The agency is running two medical camps in flood-affected district Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa where it is providing life-saving medical care to children suffering from flood-related illnesses. As of 3 October, it has reached almost 40,000 people, including almost 20,000 children.
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NOTES TO EDITORS
- The Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) is an internationally recognised famine early-warning system, based on a scale from one (minimal food stress) to five (catastrophe/famine). Before the floods, the number of people in Pakistan facing crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity (IPC 3 or 4) was estimated to be 5.96 million. Since the floods, recent preliminary analyses by the UN indicates that this figure has risen to 8.62 million, including some 5.74 million people in flood-affected districts (3.82 million people in IPC Phase 3 and 1.92 million in IPC Phase 4) -
- According to UNICEF, 40% of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 18.
- Save the Children surveyed 1,200 households from the four most flood-affected provinces in Pakistan: Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, Punjab, and Sindh. The survey was conducted from 9-16 September, 2022.