Diarrheal diseases – which are often caused by inadequate sanitation services or a lack of clean water– result in more than 1.8 million deaths per year according to the WHO. Last year’s floods in Pakistan significantly damaged water supply systems and sanitation facilities. This coupled with stagnant flood waters and unhygienic conditions during displacement threatened local communities with outbreaks of diarrheal and other waterborne diseases.
Among the first organizations to respond to the flood emergency, International Medical Corps has been providing primary health care, psychosocial support and nutrition services since immediately following the disaster. In addition, our teams have incorporated water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services into our long-term response to restore safe WASH conditions. International Medical Corps is also working to rehabilitate water supply infrastructure in the most affected areas.
“We use to drink water from natural streams and dug-wells. After the floods, my three children died after drinking water, as all the wells were filled with poisonous contaminated water [that were] filled with dead animals like rats, snakes …and we had no idea about it. That was the only source of drinking water for the whole village at that time,” said Abdul, a local in the hard-hit district of Jacobabad. “At this time of helplessness and frustration, International Medical Corps came and provided us with clean water by installing several hand pumps in our village. I don’t have words to say thanks to International Medical Corps.”
To date, International Medical Corps has installed 66 new hand pumps, repaired 107 hand pumps damaged by the floods, and constructed 145 pit latrines in the flood affected areas of Punjab and Sindh provinces. In addition, our local teams are conducting hygiene awareness education in order to minimize the threat of waterborne illnesses – more than 70,000 individuals have already attended these sessions. International Medical Corps has also distributed personal hygiene items and jerry cans for safe water storage among 28,000 households in the affected areas.
“We normally used to fetch water from another village which is three kilometers from here, as we did not have any source of clean drinking water in our village. After the floods, it was difficult to access these water-points since our village was surrounded by flood waters and it was difficult to go out. For several days, we drank the flood waters as we had no other choice,” said Ahmed, a local villager in his eighties. “But now the tough time is over. Now we don’t have to fetch water from far flung areas as International Medical Corps has installed several hand pumps in our village and we can get clean drinking water at our doorstep.”