WFP Battling To Reach Pakistan Flood Victims

Published on 17 August 2010

Now homeless women in a village in Peshawar stand around bags of wheat flour that will last their families through the coming weeks as the flood waters recede and they wait to rebuild. Copyright: WFP/Amjad Jamal

WFP is fighting to overcome the weather, devastated infrastructure and the sheer scale of human need in providing food aid to as many as six million victims of the recent floods in Pakistan. Trucks, helicopters and even mules are being used to transport food around the country and reach those cut off from help.

ISLAMABAD – The battle to reach a rising number of people affected by the floods in Pakistan, one of the worst natural disasters in living memory, continues in the face of poor weather, massive destruction and growing hardship.

WFP hopes to have reached as many as 2 million people with food aid by the end of next week, around a third of the total number of people estimated to require food assistance – WFP’s largest case load this century.

“The people worst affected by this catastrophe were already very poor. They had little to begin with and now they have nothing,” said WFP Pakistan spokesman Amjad Jamal. Read the interview

View on the ground

  • A family in Punjab recount how they've survived since the floods left them homeless. Read more
  • Food distributions underway across Pakistan: See photo gallery
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  • See the map of the areas worst affected by the monsoon floods
  • See the map of Pakistan's blocked roads and broken bridges

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Scaling up fast

As of Friday, WFP had reached some 430,000 people in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province where the flooding has hit hardest, and begun rolling out food distributions in eastern and southern regions of the country.

With flood waters closing in on communities in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan, WFP is gearing up to feed over 825,000 people in those regions over the coming days.

As the operation shifts into high gear, WFP now estimates that at any one time, a fleet of over 200 trucks are on the move around the country delivering food to flood victims.

Extraordinary efforts are being made to reach several hundred thousand people across the country in communities cut off from the rest of the country since the end of July. A squadron of ten helicopters have been airlifting food into these areas since early August.

However, heavy rains on Friday suspended flights for a fourth day, adding to concerns that local food supplies may be quickly running out.  Mules have also been enlisted to transport food over rugged terrain to remote mountain villages where helicopters cannot land.

Well positioned

WFP was well positioned for a rapid response in Pakistan, thanks to its numerous NGO partners and longstanding presence in the region. In addition, a network of humanitarian hubs, some with food stocks, allowed for ready distributions as soon as the disaster struck.

WFP was already active in the areas of Northwestern Pakistan first hit by the flooding, where it feeds over 2.7 million people displaced by turmoil along the border with Afghanistan.

To meet the rising needs in Pakistan, WFP has teamed up with another 11 NGOs on the ground and reached out to its donors and the international community for support in underwriting the massive scale-up in operations, at a cost of USD $164 million.

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about the author

Amjad Jamal

Public Information Officer

Prior to joining WFP in 2003, Amjad Jamal worked with the Pakistani Tourism Development Corporation.