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Months after Pakistan floods, millions lack safe water

ISLAMABAD (AP) – The United Nations (UN) children’s agency yesterday warned that after last summer’s devastating floods, 10 million people in Pakistan, including children, still live in flood-affected areas without access to safe drinking water.

The statement from United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) underscored the dire situation in impoverished Pakistan, a country with a population of 220 million that months later is still struggling with the consequences of the flooding, as well as a spiralling economic crisis. The floods, which experts attribute in part to climate change, killed 1,739 people, including 647 children and 353 women.

So far, less than half of UNICEF’s funding appeal for Pakistan – 45 per cent of USD173.5 million – has been met. According to the agency, before the floods struck last June, water from only 36 per cent of Pakistan’s water system was considered safe for human consumption.

The floods damaged most of the water pipelines systems in affected areas, forcing more than 5.4 million people, including 2.5 million children, to rely solely on contaminated water from ponds and wells, UNICEF said.

“Safe drinking water is not a privilege, it is a basic human right,” said UNICEF representative in Pakistan Abdullah Fadil. “Yet, every day, millions of girls and boys in Pakistan are fighting a losing battle against preventable waterborne diseases and the consequential malnutrition.

“We need the continued support of our donors to provide safe water, build toilets and deliver vital sanitation services to these children and families who need them the most,” Fadil added.

People get drinking water from a water collecting point at a slum area in Karachi, Pakistan. PHOTO: AP