Pakistan Floodings: As more rains loom, MSF increases activities and assesses new areas

“Catastrophic” situation found in Charsadda and Nowshera districts

Although water is receding in some areas, the needs of people who have had to leave their homes are increasing and becoming more and more urgent.

MSF’s response is increasing and focusing on providing drinking water, basic relief items and medical care.

"It is very difficult to get a complete picture of the extent of the needs," said Alan LEFEVRE, MSF Emergency coordinator. "Many areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province are still only accessible by air. As more heavy rains are expected, the situation in provinces such as Punjab, Kashmir, or Sindh is still very unclear."

Helicopter assessments
As weather allows, MSF teams are carrying assessments by helicopter to affected areas that are still only accessible by air.

On 5th August, an MSF assessment team flew by helicopter to Swat, Nowshera and Charsadda, in order to assess the situation of thousands of people affected by severe flooding.

"The situation in Charsadda and Nowshera districts is catastrophic," adds Lefevre, who was aboard the helicopter. "In areas surrounding Charsadda town and in the whole Nowshera district, we found entire villages that have been washed away. The people are just living outdoors, next to their destroyed house, and have not received any help."

In the north of the Swat valley, the population is likely to remain cut off from aid for a long time as all infrastructures to access the region have been washed away.

Coping with health care needs
The floods have had a strong impact on the health structures especially in terms of drug supply. MSF is supporting hospitals and health centres in Nowshera, and Peshawar districts.

In Pabbi hospital, Nowshera district, the MSF medical teams are receiving an increasing number of patients, up to 295 consultations for yesterday, mainly for skin disease and acute diarrhoea.

In the Nowshera DHQ hospital, MSF focus on the emergency room and the outpatient department, and has performed more than 320 consultations on 5th August. The rehabilitation work in the hospital to make it functional is ongoing and three ambulances have also been provided, ensuring around 10 referrals per day so far.

"Although the hospital has not been so damaged, everything has been flushed away by the flood so the hospital has literally run out of drugs and equipment," said Thomas CONAN, MSF Country representative in Pakistan. "Our medical team is making sure that patients coming for consultation can actually go home with the drugs they need. Our next step in the coming days, is to make sure that the Emergency room can remain open 24/7 as there is currently no other round the clock free of charge health facility available in Nowshera."

Through mobile medical teams, MSF also tries to reach people who have left their homes and gathered in schools or other isolated areas. There are now three mobile clinics in Charsadda and Peshawar visiting different sites every day. Yesterday, they provided 300 consultations in three different sites around Charsadda and Peshawar.

MSF medical programmes which existed before the floods are also seeing an increasing number of patients with diseases linked to the floods. In Dargai, Malakand district, the teams have started new mobile clinics.

In Baluchistan, mobile clinics will start providing care in affected zones on Monday.

Distributions of clean water and relief items
Provision of clean water remains a priority as well to prevent the spread of waterborne diseases.

21 water points were set up in Charsadda, in Lower Dir, and in eight localities in Swat (approximately 100,000 beneficiaries). In addition, MSF also provides clean water to the district hospital in Lower Dir and is working on restoring drinking water provision in the Nowshera area.

MSF is increasing the number of hygiene kits distributions to improve displaced people’s living conditions. Such distribution is taking place today in Charsadda targeting about 500 families. Another 500 hundred families who have sought refuge on the road side of the motorway between Charsadda and Peshawar will also receive emergency relief items such as cooking sets, hygiene and shelter kits, chlorine tablets. In Tangi, north of Charsadda, MSF has identified families who have lost their houses and who live in schools.

In Baluchistan, where very few aid organisations are present, MSF distributed tents and hygiene kits to about 750 families in Bakhtirabad, one of the worst affected towns in the province. In Fadfedar canal, the MSF teams distributed hygiene kits, cooking sets and jerrycans to 250 families. Large pockets of people in need of humanitarian assistance have already been identified especially around Manjoshori and Kabula and distributions for 5,000 families will start on Sunday.

More assessments will take place in Baluchistan in the areas of Sidi and Jhalmagfi.

More supplies and staff sent to Pakistan
A first cargo plane carrying 60 tons of water and sanitation equipment, drugs and logistical material departed from Europe last night and will be followed by 50 more tons of relief supplies in the next few days.

More international staff is also being sent to Pakistan. In the next few days, 100 international staff will be working alongside 1,200 Pakistani in MSF programmes in Pakistan.