UN Agencies Map Out Joint Pakistan Crisis Strategy

Flood victims wait for humanitarian relief supplies to arrive in southern Pakistan. The crisis in Pakistan is worsening in several regions, according to the directors of the emergency divisions at UNICEF, the World Food Program and the World Health Organization. Photo by: Paul Duncan / DVIDSHUB / CC BY DVIDSHUBCC BY

United Nations agencies and their partners have developed a new strategy that outlines a more coordinated response to the crisis following the massive flooding in Pakistan.

The Survival Strategy, a joint effort of the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Food Program and the U.N. Population Fund, focuses on challenges in the areas of food, nutrition, health, and water and sanitation. It aims to address key factors that contribute to outbreaks of malaria, cholera, diarrhea, acute respiratory infections and measles as well as to malnutrition, maternal health and neonatal health and morbidity.

There is a high risk of a disease outbreak and widespread deaths due to malnutrition in various flood-hit regions in Pakistan because of the serious threat posed by unsafe water, food shortages, inadequate sanitation and lack of access to quality health services, the agencies have warned.

The crisis in Pakistan is far from over and is even worsening in several regions, according to the directors of the emergency divisions at UNICEF, WFP and WHO. The directors have recently returned from a trip to flood-affected areas in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh provinces.

More recognition

Meanwhile, the U.S. said it wants more recognition for the humanitarian aid it is extending to Pakistan, The Associated Press says. But the country is meeting resistance from its partners, the majority of which are worried that using U.S. branding would make them targets of Taliban attacks.

The U.S. has recently scaled up its flood aid to Pakistan to approximately USD350 million. U.S. officials have expressed concern that the country is not getting enough credit for the aid it is sending.

“So much American aid goes through NGOs and the international community … that people may be less aware of the American aid than they ought to be,” said Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to The Associated Press.

But in light of attacks on aid workers in Pakistan in recent months, aid agencies funded by the U.S. are reluctant to put the logo of the U.S. Agency for International Development on the relief supplies they distribute out of fear of being targeted by rebel Islamist groups.

“If we go with U.S. branding, the Taliban who attacked us might have a good network and think that World Vision started in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but are now in Punjab, and come attack us,” a World Vision official told AP.

The U.S. started requiring aid agencies that deliver its assistance to use appropriate logos and branding tools in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. In Pakistan, aid agencies are exempted from using USAID logos in the country’s highly insecure areas but must get special permits or waivers to forgo branding elsewhere in the country.

“A lot of them may have assumed they don’t have to do it because it’s Pakistan, and that’s not correct,” said Robert Wilson, country director of USAID. “We want to publicize our partnership.”

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.