NEW YORK - Millions of children in Pakistan remain dependent on humanitarian assistance as recovery and rehabilitation efforts from last year’s catastrophic floods lack sufficient funding, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned on Friday.

Speaking one year after the unprecedented disaster, Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan, noted new challenges for about four million children living without safe water in flood-affected areas.

“Vulnerable children living in flood-affected areas have endured a horrific year. They lost their loved ones, homes and schools. As the monsoon rains return, the fear of another climate disaster looms large. Recovery efforts continue, but many remain unreached, and the children of Pakistan risk being forgotten.”

This season’s monsoon rains have already claimed the lives of over 210 people, including 87 children, and damaged more than 4,000 houses across the country.

Unprecedented disaster

The historic floods of 2022, made worse by climate change impacts, submerged over a third of Pakistan, affecting 33 million people, half of whom were children. Critical infrastructure was damaged or destroyed – including 30,000 schools, 2,000 health facilities and 4,300 water systems.

The disaster also deepened pre-existing inequities for children and families. A third of all youngsters were already out of school before the floods, malnutrition was reaching emergency levels and access to safe drinking water and sanitation was worryingly low, according to UNICEF.

Assistance affected

Since August 2022, UNICEF and partners have continued to assist affected populations, reaching 3.6 million people with primary healthcare services, 1.7 million with safe water, and over 545,000 children and caregivers with mental health and psychosocial support.

The UN agency also screened 2.1 million children for severe acute malnutrition and admitted 172,000 children for lifesaving treatment.

However, needs continue to outstrip the resources required to respond. UNICEF’s appeal of US$173.5 million to provide life-saving support to about 6.4 million people, including 4.4 million children, remains only 57 percent funded.

Climate-resilient investment

Fadil called on the Government as well as partners to step up investments in social services for children and families.

“We must build back climate-resilient systems that bridge equity gaps and reduce vulnerability to climate shocks. The flood waters have gone, but [children’s] troubles remain, in this climate volatile region.”