Years of political instability, conflict and poverty have affected millions of people across Pakistan. Today living standards continue to plummet as poverty has increased by roughly one-third in the past decade. Forty per cent of people in Pakistan are in poverty, making it a struggle to meet basic needs like clothing, shelter, food, education and health care. Recent data shows that 54 per cent of children under the age of five are moderately malnourished and 13 per cent are severely malnourished.
Pakistan is also a severely disaster-prone country. It frequently experiences floods, earthquakes and cyclones. In 2005, an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale killed more than 73,000 people and left over 3.5 million homeless. In 2010, Pakistan experienced its worst natural disaster in recent history with mega floods affecting an estimated 20 million people across the country. The floods damaged almost 2 million houses and raised the risk of water-borne illnesses. In 2011 and 2012, Pakistan again experienced flooding, though on a lesser scale.
Canadian Red Cross support
The Canadian Red Cross began its support to Pakistan following the 2005 earthquake and continues to support emergency and disasters relief today. The 2010 mega floods washed away not only homes and infrastructure but also devastated crops and wiped out livelihoods.
The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement aims to assist more than 2 million people affected by the 2010 floods. In addition to launching a large-scale disaster response and recovery operation, the Canadian Red Cross has also made significant investments in longer-term programming.
With a focus on improving community knowledge and practices in maternal, newborn and child health the Canadian Red Cross supports preventative health activities and improved access to health services for these vulnerable groups. This includes support for women before, during and after birth, and services for newborns, children and women, including vaccinations, health and hygiene promotion, and volunteer recruitment and training in community-based health and first aid.
In order to support more resilient communities that are able to respond in disasters, the Canadian Red Cross supports disaster risk reduction activities among vulnerable communities. This includes recruiting and training volunteers in disaster awareness. An integral and important component of this program includes support for pre-positioned supplies to be rapidly deployed from inside the country to respond to future disasters.
These activities are made possible through partnership with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society. As part of Canadian Red Cross’ commitment to ensuring efficient, effective and quality programming, technical and financial support is provided to strengthen program planning, operational and financial management, as well as monitoring and evaluation systems.