After devastating floods hit Pakistan in 2010 and 2011, there's still work to be done. We're helping people rebuild their lives. But the security situation is volatile and unpredictable and the country is prone to natural disasters.
Heavy monsoon rains over the last two months have caused serious flooding in southern Pakistan’s Sindh province. More than five million people are affected. Many of them were still recovering from last year’s floods.
Samia was born after the floods and her life has been one of struggle. Find out how we helped.
From one of the largest refugee exoduses in modern history after the government’s counterinsurgency operations in the Swat Valley in 2009, to floods affecting millions of people in 2010 and 2011, Pakistan has been battered beyond belief.
These catastrophes have heightened the sense of emergency in an already volatile and insecure country. For children, this has been a devastating few years, full of trauma, uncertainty and hunger.
Behind the headlines remain equally pressing issues: working children as young as six or seven; girls barred from school; the needless deaths of infants.
- We helped nearly 4 million people during and after the floods, 1.8 million of them children.
- We’ve given 1.2 million people treatment for diseases such as chest infections, diarrhoea, and malaria.
- We’re helping families to rebuild in the long term, with housing materials, help with livelihoods and an education for their children.
- With our EVERY ONE campaign for child survival, launched by Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, we are taking major steps towards our aim of reducing under-fives mortality by a quarter by the end of 2013.
It started with floods in the Khyber Pass in late July 2010. Within days, the Indus, Swat and other rivers were overflowing, sweeping away homes, schools, farms, bridges and roads. Millions of people fled their homes, the scale of disaster scarcely imaginable.
“I have seen hundreds of children who seem barely alive,” wrote one Save the Children staff member two months after the floods began. “Their skin is pale, their eyes vacant. They lie in their mothers’ laps, unable to cry for help."
A year later, devastating floods hit again. Children remain traumatised and fearful. Girls as young as nine or ten are being married because parents can no longer feed their families.
But emergencies are not the only challenge for Pakistan’s children.
Of 12 million working children, five million are in hazardous labour, and 1.7 million are bonded.
Roughly 15,000 women die from complications during pregnancy or childbirth every year.
Every hour, the lives of 62 children are cut short, with one in ten children dying before they turn five.
What we’ve achieved
We can’t undo the tragedies. But we can help people return to normal lives.
Emergency response and rebuild
We’ve helped millions of people survive some of the worst disasters in Pakistan’s history, including reaching nearly 1.3 million people after the military operations in Swat as part of a unified emergency response and four million in the aftermath of the floods.
Our response to Pakistan’s floods was the biggest Save the Children has ever mounted – helping three-quarters of a million people in the first two months with food, shelter and medical care.
Our health teams and clinics are still working hard, and we are helping families to find work, rebuild their homes and get their children back in school. We’re helping children overcome their fears and anxieties with our child-friendly spaces.
We have a clear message to governments: help Pakistan’s people prepare – so that the next disaster in this disaster-prone country does not hit them even harder.
A voice for children
Nationally, we have a created voice for children. In 2009, we launched our campaign for a child rights protection bill by sending 100,000 postcards signed by Pakistani children to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani. It succeeded in getting the government to agree to federal and provincial child protection bills. When they are approved – and we’ll keep working until they are – they’ll form the first legal framework for children’s protection.
As a result of our position paper on child protection, Pakistan’s five-year plan now includes child protection as a separate subject and budget line. In Azad Jammu and Kashmir, a final draft of a child protection bill has been schedule for legislation, in part because of our work.
We’ve helped tens of thousands of children stop work in dangerous industries, and even more to get a good education. Read our Alternative Report on the State of Child Rights in Pakistan to find out more.
In communities right across the country our community health workers are making a tangible difference. Gomi Pardeep, a mother of four whom we trained as a health worker in 2010, tells one story of success.
One night a father knocked on her door with his two-month-old son dangerously ill with a high fever.
“I had been taught how to treat a child in such a situation. I sponged him and gave him paracetamol, and told the father to take his son to the clinic. The next day the father came to my door. He had come to thank me, and said that the doctor had told him that the timely first aid for his son had saved him. Now I have a place of honour in my village, and I hold weekly gatherings at which the village talks about health issues.”
Our aim is to turn life around for hundreds of thousands of children by:
providing access to quality education
protecting children from economic exploitation
providing access to maternal, neonatal and child health services
helping millions more to recover from the floods.
You can help
Support our EVERY ONE campaign to keep more infants and children alive – and help Pakistan meet its goal of cutting maternal and child deaths.
Read our Pakistan blogs