by Caroline Graham
Zeeshan Alvi/HelpAge International 2011 HelpAge International is helping 1,000 older people and their families affected by the recent flooding in Pakistan.
Since August, heavy monsoon rains have caused flash floods throughout Sindh and Punjab provinces, affecting 5 million people.
More than 230 people have been killed, 1.2 million houses have been destroyed or damaged and 4.5 million acres have been flooded since late last month.
More than 200,000 people have been moved to shelters while some 800,000 families hit by last year's floods are still homeless.
Reaching older people and their families
HelpAge International has distributed 1,000 food and hygiene kits and portable drinking water to vulnerable older people and their families in Badin district in Sindh province.
The kits include a month's food ration containing oil, flour, salt and other basic consumer items, including foods that are nutritious and easy for older people to digest.
They also contain hygiene items such as soap, antiseptics and towels, torches and extra batteries.
No early flood warning system
Country director of HelpAge International in Pakistan, Asma Akbar said: "This is a big disaster. In Sindh province, the flood has badly affected 22 out of 23 districts.
"Around 5 million people are suffering from the damage done by floods. Thousands of livestock - a key source of livelihood have died. The affected population is without food and shelter at the moment and malaria and typhoid are playing havoc.
"Sadly, agencies were caught ill-prepared, as there is no early warning system in place. Civil society and political activists alike have raised their concern about this unfortunate situation.
"The Government alone cannot cope with this situation. Therefore, both the international community and local partners in development have to join heads and hands to help arrest and contain the damage, otherwise it is likely to be accentuated over the coming weeks, as more rains in Sindh are expected.
"Apart from the physical damages, psychological and emotional trauma is common among the older people. Also food distribution is more on an ad hoc basis, usually given for three days to one week's time.
"I must say this is a wake-up call and we must respond promptly."
"We urgently need clean water"
Jan Muhammad is 80 years old and responsible for his family of 10.
His home town was destroyed by the heavy rains in Badin.
He said: "48 hours of rain submerged our house and village, and they looked like a pool of dirty water. We had no other option but to leave.
"We heard about this camp and came here. You know, just last year a similar situation had arisen in Dadu which is a few kilometres from here. No preventive measures for rescue of communities were made by the authorities.
"Here at the camps, we have only got shelter to hide ourselves. Our other necessities are still not being addressed. We use the same water for drinking, washing and the toilet.
"We have asked the concerned authorities to provide clean water, but they haven't. Either they are not serious about it or they lack sufficient resources. I don't know who is going to do this, and how, but I can foresee that if the situation prevails, diseases are going to spread."
State of emergency
The Sindh government has declared Badin, Muhammad Khan and Mirpur Khas as calamity-hit districts.
More than 96,000 people from Badin, Mirpur Khas, Thatta, Tando, Tharparker and Mohammad Khan districts have been displaced are now living in 510 camps.
With large areas of land submerged under water, the agriculture and livestock situation is extremely serious.
Though the government has established several relief camps at different schools and colleges in Badin city, many people are unable to access these shelters. They have set up temporary residence along roadsides near their destroyed houses.
The emergency comes just one year after floods devastated the country.
What you can do
- We would be extremely grateful if you would support the work of HelpAge by donating to our sister organisaton Age UK's Pakistan flood appeal.
- Keep updated on our work by subscribing to our e-newsletter.