Pakistan floods: Risk of disease high as half of all water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in worst-hit areas severely damaged – WaterAid

Posted by
Rik Goverde
on
8 September 2022
Flooding in Badin District, Pakistan. Sept 2022
Flooding in Badin District, Pakistan. Sept 2022
WaterAid/ Xulfi Panhwar

Download photos here  

Half of all water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in some of the hardest hit flood areas of Pakistan have suffered major damage, leaving already vulnerable communities exposed to increased risk of disease, warns WaterAid. Especially women and girls are impacted.

According to the UN humanitarian organisation OCHA, up to 50 percent of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in Punjab and Sindh provinces have suffered major damage. In Balochistan in the southwest, some 30 per cent of water systems have been affected while in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, home to the Swat Valley, 20 per cent of water systems have been impacted by the deluge. 

Disease outbreak is being reported from most of the flood-affected areas, WaterAid said. 

In Madyan, in the north of the Swat Valley, water pipelines, roads and bridges are destroyed. Homes are either partially or completely damaged, with no electricity for the past 10 days and reports from people that they have to travel up to 2km to get clean water, with many cleaning their clothes and utensils in contaminated water. 

WaterAid Pakistan’s Sarah Akmal, on the ground in Swat, explained that women are girls are particularly vulnerable:   

“Women have told us that they feel ashamed to defecate openly as they feel their privacy is being compromised, and they are eating less to try and avoid having to do so. Others are reporting having to use the same piece of cloth for up to seven days to manage their periods, resulting in infection and abdominal pains. All of this is having serious effects on their physical and mental health.  

“We are doing all we can to deliver hygiene kits to treat water and help women manage their periods as well as build toilets in affected areas to prevent a widespread public health emergency.” 

Flooding in Badin District, Sindh Province, Pakistan. Sept 2022
Flooding in Badin District, Sindh Province, Pakistan. Sept 2022
WaterAid/ Xulfi Panhwar

Flood damaged or overflowing toilets as well as broken and unprotected water sources are exposing men, women and children to cholera and other deadly diseases, worsening the impacts of the climate disaster. 

Malaria-cases are already rising fast with health officials in one district reportedly running out of capacity to test for the disease due to large number of patients, the charity said. 

WaterAid Pakistan Country Director Arif Jabbar Khan, who recently visited the worst impacted areas in Sindh, said: 

“The scenes I witnessed were utterly heart-breaking and reveal the vast scale of this climate disaster. 

“Disease outbreak is being reported from most of the flood-affected areas,” he added. “As long as people are unable to return to their homes and don’t have adequate water, sanitation and hygiene, concerns about disease will remain. Even when people return to what is left of their houses, they will face destroyed or damaged infrastructure and contaminated water sources. The restoration and decontamination of water sources in homes, schools, health clinics and other institutions must be a priority,” 

WaterAid Pakistan has already bolstered its relief effort, channelling £500,000 (PKR 126,000,000) towards the crisis.  

WaterAid UK has launched a fundraising appeal – which has already topped £100,000. Thanks to the generous donations of the British public, we are disinfecting drinking water, building temporary toilets in schools and camps, helping to clear flood water and supporting women and girls by providing menstrual hygiene kits including pads, panties and soap.  

To donate, please visit: wateraid.org/uk/pakistan-floods-appeal   

ENDS 

For interviews, eyewitness accounts, media facilitation in Pakistan, b-roll and stills, please contact [email protected] or [email protected], or contact our after-hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 552.   

Notes to Editors:  

WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 27 million people with clean water and 27 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org, follow @WaterAidUK or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or find WaterAid UK on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.  

  • 771 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water close to home.[1]   
  • 1.7 billion people in the world – more than one in five – do not have a decent toilet of their own.[2]   
  • Around 290,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's more than 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.[3]   
  • Every £1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 in increased productivity.[4]   
  • Just £15 can provide one person with clean water.[5]
  1. WHO/UNICEF (2021) Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020. Joint Monitoring Programme. Geneva: World Health Organisation.    
  2. WHO/UNICEF (2021) Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020. Joint Monitoring Programme. Geneva: World Health Organisation.    
  3. WaterAid calculations based on: Prüss-Ustün A, et al. (2019). Burden of Disease from Inadequate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Selected Adverse Health Outcomes: An Updated Analysis with a Focus on Low- and Middle-Income Countries. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health. vol 222, no 5, pp 765-777. AND The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2020) Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. Seattle, WA: University of Washington.    
  4. World Health organization (2012) Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage    
  5. www.wateraid.org