I’ve just been catching up with Katy Attfield, our head of disaster management, who spent four days in Islamabad last week to find out how the British Red Cross can continue supporting the response to the Pakistan floods.
So far, the British Red Cross has committed almost £9 million to support the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement’s response. It has also sent a number of delegates who specialise in livelihoods and hygiene promotion and has deployed its logistics emergency response unit.
As with Haiti, recovery in Pakistan will most likely take a decade – although as it’s so vulnerable to disasters it’s unlikely to have recovered before the next one hits.
Katy said: “It’s good to remind people that assessing the scale of a disaster is not really about the numbers of people who died. It is more relevant to look at the numbers of people who survived but have been left in a desperate situation and need help recovering. With Pakistan the numbers affected are huge – more than 18 million people – which is why it will take so long and why so much effort will be needed.
“The Pakistan Red Crescent is in the lead of the Movement response, and is coping well. It highlights one advantage of our world-wide Movement, as they have at least some capacity in the south of the country, whereas so many humanitarian organisations have previously only been focused on the north and so are struggling to scale up country-wide.”
The biggest immediate risk to survivors in Pakistan right now is around public health, with malaria and waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera posing a major threat. The British Red Cross will be sending more hygiene promotion delegates and sanitation specialists, who will focus on getting people to behave responsibly about where they go to the toilet and designating appropriate areas for this.
Find out more about what we are doing in Pakistan