Pakistan is suffering widespread destruction from flooding due to exceptionally heavy monsoon rains, affecting some 33 million people. One-third of the country is now underwater, according to Pakistani officials. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams are on the ground providing primary health care, drinking water, and essential supplies, although access to some areas remains extremely challenging. Many of our own staff members have been directly affected by the disaster, including colleagues whose homes have been flooded. Given the number of people affected, an urgent scale-up of the humanitarian response is needed.
Southern and central Pakistan have been most affected, particularly Balochistan and Sindh provinces, which have seen more than four times the normal amount of rain for this season, according to Pakistan’s meteorological office. More than 1,000 people have died, and more than 1,500 people have been injured.
MSF teams see widespread needs for clean water, shelter, and sanitation facilities. With roads and access points deluged, food and other supplies are dwindling. Humanitarian groups are working to support the distribution of food and relief items. The lack of adequate water and sanitation creates severe risks for outbreaks of waterborne diseases such as cholera, while diseases such as dengue and malaria are also expected to increase. With heavy rains predicted to continue over the monsoon season, steps must be taken to safeguard people who are now displaced in areas that remain prone to further flooding.
MSF’s response in Balochistan
In Balochistan, 31 out of 33 districts have been severely affected. Areas around Dera Murad Jamali (DMJ) have experienced significant flooding over the last two weeks. MSF teams, including staff whose own homes were flooded, have responded quickly to provide primary health care to people displaced by the disaster. We have provided aid to people gathered along the roads, in schools, and other makeshift shelters.
MSF has started mobile clinics in Dera Murad Jamali, providing primary health care and health promotion activities. Our teams are also providing referrals to the MSF-supported DMJ district headquarters hospital. Most of the patients have presented with respiratory infections, fever, skin diseases, or diarrhea. We are also screening for malnutrition and have seen children from our regular ambulatory therapeutic feeding center (ATFC) activities in the mobile clinics. In these early days of the response, we are not seeing large numbers of patients. This is likely due to access challenges, with many towns and villages cut off by the floodwaters. Our mobile clinics are running daily, and the team is currently visiting three locations around Dera Murad Jamali. MSF is providing clean drinking water by setting up water points and distributing non-food items, with kits including soap, buckets, cooking utensils, and mosquito nets. Another MSF team is assessing needs in Killa Abdullah district in the northwest of Balochistan province.
MSF also has projects in Quetta and Chaman, near the border with Afghanistan. The team has set up emergency water distribution points in Quetta city and donated approximately 300 non-food item kits. In Chaman, MSF has begun fixing damaged water pipes, distributing non-food items, and running a mobile clinic.
Reaching people in Sindh, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
After facing transportation difficulties due to roads being washed away, our teams have reached camps in the Dadu district of Sindh province, where people who have been displaced are taking shelter. MSF teams are currently assessing the needs and preparing to provide support. About 50 to 60 percent of houses built with traditional mud construction have been destroyed by the floodwaters and some people are living on riverbanks. There are immediate needs for clean drinking water, hygiene kits, and medical care to prevent the further spread of skin infections and diarrhea. Our teams are now preparing for possible outbreaks of waterborne diseases and other infections.
We are also assessing the needs in Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur districts of Punjab province and Charsadda and Nowshera districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.