350,000 affected by fresh floods in Pakistan (Lead)

August 26th, 2010 - 6:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Aug 26 (DPA) The Indus River in Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh submerged dozens more villages Thursday, and authorities ordered the evacuation of up to 350,000 people.
“About 0.3 to 0.35 million people will be affected in Thatta, which is a district of about 0.85 million people,” said Kher Mohammad Kaloro, director of operations at Sindh’s Provincial Disaster Management Authority.

“The floods have breached two protective dykes, forcing us to ask people to leave Sajawal, a small town of 28,000 people. Water is also going towards Qambar and Shadadkot towns, and more people will be affected,” Kaloro added.

The floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains a month ago have affected more than 17.2 million people, including some 3.8 million in Sindh, and killed over 1,500, according to Pakistan’s disaster management body.

Nazar Mohammad Gondal, the minister for Food and Agriculture, said floods had destroyed 1.7 million hectares of agricultural land out of a total cultivable area of 23 million hectares.

“Flooding has done extensive damage to agriculture and standing crops of cotton, rice, sugarcane, corn and other plants have been damaged or destroyed,” he said.

At least 614,000 hectares of rice is submerged, resulting in the loss of 1.5 million tonnes of rice. Pakistan would no longer able to export rice. It sold around 4 million tonnes abroad this year.

Gondal’s ministry also reported huge losses of fruit, fodder, vegetables, livestock and fish-farms.

In addition, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of wheat reserves were washed away, leaving the country to either import food or rely on aid coming from the international community.

Relief workers have been struggling to get aid to the displaced people staying at the relief camps or in the open with little food, medicine or clean drinking water.

Some 3.5 million flood survivors had only contaminated water to drink, which is increasing the risk of water-borne diseases spreading, the United Nations said Wednesday.

Its Children’s Fund UNICEF had so far been able to reach around 2.5 million people in flood-devastated areas with 5 litres of clean water per person a day, which is less than the minimum health requirements.

“We are working as fast as anyone could, but this is not enough,” said Karen Allen, deputy country representative of UNICEF in Pakistan.

“Millions of people are still faced with the dilemma of drinking contaminated water, putting them at risk of diarrhoeal diseases.” The waterborne diseases were already spreading among the people affected by the floods that have swamped around one-fifth of Pakistani land.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3.2 million people had received medical treatment for diarrhoea, skin diseases, acute respiratory infections and other illnesses in flood-affected areas.

Some 65,000 cases of malaria were reported in the southern provinces of Baluchistan and Sindh, where a second wave of floods was displacing hundreds of thousands of people.

“Lack of clean water leads to poor sanitation, and this is a major concern which leads to heightened risk of disease. Waste is building up,” said Paul Garwood, a WHO official. “This awful combination puts people at greater risk for contracting disease.”

“Without clean water, people are unable to wash their clothes. If they are in wet dirty clothes for days on end, this may lead to rashes which can turn into more serious ailments,” he added.

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