Pakistan’s Children Struggle for Clean Water a Year After Devastating Floods

Around 4 million children in Pakistan are without access to safe water a year after devastating floods wreaked havoc across the nation, according to a warning from the United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF. In a press release, UNICEF highlighted that an estimated 8 million people, with half of them being children, continue to reside in flood-affected regions without clean water.

Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan, expressed concern for vulnerable children who have endured a traumatic year, having lost loved ones, homes, and schools. As the monsoon rains return, the risk of another climate-related disaster looms, adding to the ongoing challenges faced by the flood-affected population.

Last year’s flooding resulted from record monsoon rains and glacier melting in Pakistan’s northern mountains, leading to approximately 1,600 fatalities, including over a third who were children, and affecting an estimated 33 million people. The floods submerged a third of the country, displacing numerous families and causing widespread destruction.

The aftermath of the floods left around 30,000 schools, 2,000 health facilities, and 4,300 water systems damaged or destroyed. This climate-related disaster exacerbated existing disparities in affected areas, impacting children’s education, nutrition, and access to clean water and sanitation.

As the floodwaters receded, waterborne diseases spread, particularly among children. Diarrhea, dysentery, dengue fever, and malaria took a toll on the population, especially on already vulnerable children. The flooding compounded Pakistan’s economic challenges, pushing many families into poverty and preventing access to essential resources.

The political turmoil in Pakistan, including the arrest and removal of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, further complicated the nation’s predicament. The recent approval of a $3 billion bailout by the International Monetary Fund provided temporary relief, but the poverty rate has surged to 21.9%, affecting more than one fifth of the population.

UNICEF’s call to increase investment in basic social services for children and families underscores the ongoing need to address the long-term consequences of the floods. Despite the receding floodwaters, the challenges persist in this climate-vulnerable region, underscoring the importance of sustained support for those affected.

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