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Pakistan Floods One Year On: From Relief to Recovery
The 2010 floods in Pakistan were one of the most devastating natural disasters of our times – described as a slow motion tsunami. Beginning in late July, unexpectedly severe monsoon rains caused flash and riverine floods which combined to affect almost one-fifth of the country’s land mass, an area larger than Greece. The humanitarian impact was immense. The disaster affected more than 20 million people, claimed nearly 2 000 lives and destroyed 1.6 million homes and key infrastructure in 78 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Jammu Kashmir, Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh.
Agriculture – the basic livelihood for 80 percent of the affected population – was hardest hit, with the loss of 2.4 million hectares of unharvested crops, and damages estimated at USD 5.1 billion. The devastated area included a large portion of Pakistan’s most fertile land, including the breadbasket province of Punjab, and already vulnerable communities.
The families most affected by the floods are predominantly smallholder tenant farmers and unskilled labourers. They are amongst the most vulnerable groups in Pakistani society. The average family requiring agricultural assistance owns or can access only 5 acres of partially irrigated cropland, has seven to eight mouths to feed and lives below the poverty line. High levels of malnutrition, food insecurity and debt are daily realities.
Agriculture and livelihoods have been a key pillar in the Pakistan Floods Relief and Early Recovery Response Plan, with linkages to ensure preparedness for future shocks, rehabilitation and development interventions.
Nature waits for no one. It was vital to ensure existing heavy losses were not compounded further. Farmers needed quality seeds to plant wheat, as well as inputs to prevent further livestock deaths. In this race against time, FAO and partners worked together to reach over 10 million people across Pakistan. Through these efforts, vital livestock resources were preserved and the wheat planting season was possible, rather than delayed by a year.