FOCUS Pakistan responds to flooding in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan
Islamabad – Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) has been providing relief to villages in the Chitral District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan, which have been affected by devastating floods resulting from monsoon rains and glacial outbursts.
Flash flooding and debris flow have washed away over 100 villages while disrupting access to roads and bridges and causing damage to property, crops, livestock, communication infrastructure and drinking water supply systems. Over 700 trained volunteers from FOCUS Pakistan’s Search and Rescue, Disaster Assessment Response and Community Emergency Response Teams were immediately mobilised to respond to the emergency. The teams have distributed food items and non-food items including tents, blankets, tarpaulin sheets, family hygiene kits and water purification tabs to 600 families in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan.
The situation is becoming more critical as a number of valleys and villages in Chitral remain inaccessible and continue to be isolated from each other. Major roads remain cut off including Chitral-Booni Mastuj road, Garamchashma-Chitral road, Chitral-Ayun Bumborate road, Booni-Mulkhow and Kosht road and Chitral-Madaklasht road.
“The immediate need is to clear roads and restore access to villages as supplies in the affected areas will run out and winter will soon set in,” warns Nusrat Nasab, Executive Officer of FOCUS Pakistan. In the meantime, FOCUS Pakistan plans to provide one month’s food supplies to 70% of the most affected communities in Lower and Upper Chitral. Provisions have also been made to store items at the regional level since small local markets are expected to run out of supplies.
Flash floods and unfavorable weather continue to be a major threat to relief efforts making it difficult to airlift people and distribute supplies and medicine. FOCUS Pakistan’s Community Emergency Response Team is working with local communities and with the FOCUS regional office for early warning and timely response.
During its 15 years presence in the country, FOCUS Pakistan has trained over 36,000 local community volunteers as first responders and has set up over 90 stockpiles to effectively respond to disasters. FOCUS Pakistan is working closely with the Pakistan Army, Government authorities and local administration in coordinating immediate relief efforts. Once the near-term threat is controlled, extensive planning and resources will be required for rehabilitation. As part of the Aga Khan Development Network, FOCUS Pakistan is engaged with affiliated institutions including Aga Khan Health Services, Aga Khan Rural Support Programme and Aga Khan Planning and Building Services to alleviate concerns such as health and hygiene issues arising from the aftermath of crises and to plan for longer-term housing and economic rehabilitation.