Millions of Pakistanis affected by last year’s devastating floods continue to need assistance to rebuild livelihoods, improve food production and generate income, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), whose own efforts have helped some 900,000 farming households get back on their feet.
The Rome-based agency said in a news release issued today that its Early Recovery Programme needs $96 million to support an additional 430,000 farming households in 14 severely flood-affected districts of Pakistan over the next two years.
Some 20 million people were affected by the floods that struck the South Asian nation starting in July 2010, submerging almost one-fifth of the country under water. The disaster claimed 2,000 lives and destroyed 1.6 million homes.
According to FAO, the agriculture sector – the basic livelihood for 80 per cent of the affected population – suffered more than $5.1 billion in damage, including the loss of over two million hectares of crops.
The floods struck the provinces of Punjab – considered Pakistan’s breadbasket – as well as Baluchistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Sindh just before the harvest of spring-planted crops and within weeks of the critical winter wheat planting season.
In the aftermath of the crisis, FAO, along with over 200 partner organizations, provided almost half a million households with wheat and vegetable crop packages. They also provided assistance to women to grow fresh, nutritious food in their own kitchen vegetable gardens, and individual families with vegetable kits, each of which yielded an average 500 kilograms of vegetables.
“This bridged the gap before the wheat harvest in late spring and surplus production sold on the local market providing valuable income which families used to meet other basic needs,” said the agency.
FAO also provided livestock support to over 290,000 families, and assisted with cash-for-work schemes that both benefited farming families and contributed to rebuilding critical infrastructure such as irrigation channels.