By Rosaleen Cunningham
The monsoon rains which began to hit Pakistan in late July 2010 were the worst in 80 years.
They caused immediate flash flooding in the mountains in the north-west and within days floodwaters streamed southwards.
The vast scale of the Pakistan floods means that today, six months on, millions of people remain in need of the most basic aid.
HelpAge International 2010
Around 20 million people were affected including 12 million people who had their homes damaged or completely destroyed.
Asma Akbar, HelpAge's Country Programme Manager in Pakistan, said: "Many people have been able to get their lives back together with only a little support. But the sheer scale of this crisis means that millions still require urgent aid.
"The most vulnerable, including older people, are still in particular need. Older people affected by the Pakistan floods have told us their most urgent need is shelter, and then incomes to help rebuild their lives."
Floods affected food prices
Many of people's problems are exacerbated by the rise in food prices in the aftermath of the floods.
Before the Pakistan floods it used to cost about Rs. 200 (£1.40) per day to feed a family of five, but now it's at least Rs. 300 (£2.20).
Meat is too expensive for most people to buy. Rice has increased from Rs. 60 (40p) to Rs. 90 (66p) per kg.
And gas which is essential for fuel in these cold winter months has more than tripled in price in the last six months.
Older people are particularly vulnerable to the cold, especially if they are sleeping in tents.
Acute respiratory infections, including influenza and pneumonia, are 50% higher than is normal for this time of year.
What HelpAge has been doing
- HelpAge distributed almost 12,000 winter kits, which included blankets.
- Through our partnership with medical aid organisation Merlin, 23,470 older people received urgent medical assistance.
- Over 500 older people affected by the Pakistan floods are receiving counselling from HelpAge's psychologists and health promoters, who continue to highlight a problem often overlooked in the aftermath of emergencies.
- HelpAge has also established 20 older people's associations which support 1,200 older people and their families through £345,800 worth of cash grants which can be used to buy food, repair houses, pay off loans, or buy tools or livestock lost in the floods. Others have bought stock to set up small businesses.
- In the next six months we intend to set up 26 more associations reaching 2,000 older people and their families.
Hasina, is a member of an association set up in one village in Nowshera district. She says: "our biggest need is shelter, but we also need food distribution to continue. It has stopped now but with the price of food so high, we continue to need it."
HelpAge's work in Pakistan is supported by AgeUK as a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee. The DEC Pakistan Floods Appeal will remain open until 31 January 2011 and donations can be made at www.dec.org.uk