Long-term efforts needed for South Asian flood recovery, says UN agency
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today that long-term relief and recovery efforts will be needed for the millions people that have been affected by severe flooding across South Asia.
Severe weather during this year’s monsoon season has wreaked havoc across the region in recent weeks. In addition to the over 20 million people suffering in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, some two million were affected by devastating flooding in Pakistan when Cyclone Yemyin struck the country in late June.
“After the floodwaters subside, millions of poor families will remain devastated from the loss of their crops, livestock and in some cases, family members,” said Josette Sheeran, WFP’s Executive Director.
WFP has emphasised its readiness to provide emergency food assistance, if and when requested by the governments of the affected countries. In Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the agency has provided immediate assistance from existing food stocks.
“WFP stands ready to assist with food and logistical support, and we urge donors to step forward with funding for early recovery programmes which are crucial in the wake of a crisis.”
UN agencies have been working with national governments to respond to the crisis, which has been described as the “worst flooding in living memory.”
However, South Asia is not alone in its distress, a senior UN relief official said today. Other parts of the world, including the Sudan, East Africa and South America, have also seen very serious flooding this year, resulting in the disruption of economies, impacts on people’s health and the loss of livelihoods, especially in rural areas.
“In Asia, the annual monsoon is something people depend on for their agriculture. They need the water,” UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Margareta Wahlström told reporters in New York. “It’s water in excess that’s disruptive and costly.”
She noted that every year some 500 million people are regularly affected by floods, and that flooding and weather-related disasters make up about 55 to 60 per cent of all global disasters every year. There have been 70 floods so far this year.
The challenge to countries, organizations and individuals is “can we change our behaviour so that we reduce the impact of these events, knowing that over the next 20 years we will have more serious weather-related events,” Ms. Wahlström stated.