One year after catastrophic floods hit Pakistan, an estimated 4 million children in the country are still without access to safe water, according to the United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF. The organization estimates that there are 8 million people in total, half of whom are children, living in flood-affected areas without clean water.
The floods, caused by record monsoon rains and melting glaciers in Pakistan’s northern mountain regions, resulted in the loss of nearly 1,600 lives, with over a third of them being children. The floodwater submerged a third of the country, washing away homes and leaving tens of thousands stranded without food or clean water.
The impact on education and healthcare was also devastating, with around 30,000 schools, 2,000 health facilities, and 4,300 water systems damaged or destroyed. Prior to the floods, one third of children were already out of school, malnutrition levels were reaching emergency levels, and access to safe drinking water and sanitation was low.
The aftermath of the flooding also saw a rise in water-related diseases, such as diarrhea, dysentery, dengue fever, and malaria, particularly affecting children. The floods worsened pre-existing inequities for children and families in affected districts.
The floods occurred at a time when Pakistan was already facing a severe economic crisis. Political turmoil in recent months, including the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan on corruption charges, has further complicated the situation. The country’s economy has been suffering from bad governance and economic mismanagement, with many families pushed into poverty and unable to afford essentials like food, fuel, and medicine.
To alleviate the economic burden, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently approved a $3 billion bailout for Pakistan. However, the country’s rupee has experienced a crash, currently trading at 301 to the US dollar. This may be attributed to factors such as panic runs, a market-based exchange rate, and higher imports.
Pakistan’s poverty rate has reached a staggering 21.9%, impacting more than one-fifth of the population. The combination of ongoing poverty, lack of access to clean water, and the economic challenges faced by the country paints a bleak picture for the future of Pakistan’s children.