The conflict in Ukraine has also disrupted the supply chain of wheat grain, seed and fertilisers into Pakistan

Flood-torn Pakistan faces a monumental hunger crisis and a stark winter after flooding left much of the country under water, Concern Worldwide has warned.

Concern is calling for more support to fund these life-saving efforts as the UN also makes a fresh global appeal today to respond to the crisis.

The monsoon flooding, which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described as “climate carnage,” affected 33 million people with over 1,600 fatalities and over 12,800 injuries.

Almost eight million people were displaced and there are an estimated 598,000 people living in relief camps.

The floods also damaged or destroyed millions of acres of food crops, over two million homes, 13,000km of roads and more than 400 bridges.

“The level of devastation is enormous with millions living under the open sky,” said Concern Worldwide’s Pakistan acting Country Director, Sherzada Khan.

“Food insecurity is increasing and, according to the latest estimates from officials, Pakistan lost almost 15 per cent of its rice crop in the floods, which also destroyed many farming families’ grain reserves.

Heatwaves followed by weeks of monsoon

The floods were caused by weeks of extreme monsoon rainfall after months of extreme heat waves, at a time when Pakistan was already coping with a major economic crisis with high inflation and food and fuel prices rocketing.

Preliminary estimates by the World Bank suggest the national poverty rate could increase because of the recent floods by 4.5 to 7 percentage points.

“The destruction is immense and upsetting to witness,” added Concern’s emergency response manager in Pakistan, Shafqat Ullah.

“The conflict in Ukraine has also disrupted the supply chain of wheat grain, seed and fertilisers into Pakistan.”

The Food and Agricul­ture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has warned that acute food insecurity is likely to worsen in parts of Pakistan due to the negative impact of floods and extremely high prices of basic food items, energy and fuel.

This could prompt civil unrest, with Sri Lanka one example of a country that has recently witnessed the spillover from rising commodity prices in its populous. 

Addressing the root cause

”Acute hunger is driven by three things: conflicts, climatic shocks and the dramatic economic and social fallout from the Covid pandemic,” according to Arif Husain, chief economist of the UN World Flood Program.

”These are exacerbated by structural weaknesses, such as inequalities and a glaring lack of social safety nets, which make the situation dramatically worse.”

Writing for Chatham House, he added that: ”Essentially, poor, debt-laden countries that rely on food, fuel and fertiliser imports are in an economic jeopardy not witnessed in several decades, if ever before.

”Taking this lesson seriously and showing true commitment to fix the food system, diversify food and fuel import sources, build strategic reserves and reduce dependency on single sources for food and energy is key to mitigating the risk of future price shocks.”