Flooding in Pakistan: SDC pursuing efforts to provide access to drinking water and education

Pakistan has suffered one of the worst catastrophes in its history. In late August, an unusually strong monsoon left large swathes of the country flooded for several weeks. When the Pakistani authorities launched an international appeal for help, the SDC responded swiftly by releasing CHF 3 million in aid. It also deployed a Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) team to assist on the ground.

A boy crosses a rope bridge near Mankiala, Pakistan. An expanse of large stones borders a stream.

Pakistan suffered severe damage from flooding caused by an exceptional monsoon in late August. Here in the village of Mankiala. © SDC

By the end of September 2022, Pakistan was gradually recovering from the flooding. More than 33 million people were affected by the disaster, which has claimed more than 1,500 lives. The flooding has destroyed homes and infrastructure across the country. Lost crops and flooded fields pose a serious threat to food security. There is also a high risk of the spread of waterborne diseases.

Switzerland responds swiftly to Pakistan's call for help

The Pakistani authorities began organising rescue operations as soon as the waters started rising in August. Faced with the scale of the disaster, they launched an appeal for international aid. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) responded immediately by deploying an SHA team. The team, which initially consisted of a team leader, a liaison officer, a logistician and a construction expert, set up base in Mingora in the Swat valley. Pakistan was for decades one of the SDC's priority countries. The SDC ended its activities there in 2020. This long-standing presence allowed the SHA team to quickly re-establish contact with its network of partners on the ground.

Swiss experts have carried out repair work in four schools in the valley that had been rebuilt by the SDC after flooding in 2010. These buildings all stood up well to this year's floods, although water pipes were damaged. The SHA team also repaired an 8,800-metre drinking water network that supplies nearly 7,000 people. They rebuilt three suspension bridges to enable villagers to reach markets. They also set up four cash-for-work programmes to mobilise local labour to clear roads buried by debris, mud and other obstacles. A total of 1,650 people were paid for their participation in these efforts.

Aid provided in two phases

The emergency phase ended on 30 September after four weeks of activities that helped more than 13,000 people. The SDC deployed ten SHA members to the field between the end of August and the beginning of October, with the Swiss embassy in Islamabad supporting them throughout this period.

At the beginning of October, the SDC moved on to the second phase ('early recovery'), which continued the work carried out during the emergency phase. The aim here was to repair a further twelve schools (including the rehabilitation of streets and access roads) and to rehabilitate ten drinking water supply systems. This direct action is scheduled to last until the end of November.

Three million francs allocated to disaster response

The SDC has allocated a total of CHF 3 million to respond to the consequences of the disaster in Pakistan. CHF 2 million of this was earmarked to support the activities undertaken by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in response to an emergency appeal by the UN. The IOM is operating in the country's southern provinces, which have been hit particularly hard by the disaster. CHF 200,000 was allocated to the Swiss NGO Helvetas, which is carrying out projects to distribute drinking water, food and medicines, as well as essential supplies in the north-western province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The remaining funds were allocated to activities conducted by the SDC.

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