Nutrition International, with support from Comic Relief US, is continuing to ensure that children impacted by Pakistan's 2022 floods have access to the critical nutrition interventions they need.
One-third of the country was impacted by the floods, and 6.6 million were severely affected. The widespread destruction led to lost lives, livelihoods and infrastructure, leaving nearly 640,000 displaced people living in camps. Of affected households, 6.6 million do not have adequate resources to buy food and 1.4 million people are estimated to need nutrition support. At least 30% of the country’s water systems are estimated to have been damaged.
Malnutrition was already a critical health issue in the flood-affected areas. The 2018 National Nutrition Survey found various forms of malnutrition, including wasting, stunting and micronutrient deficiencies, to be public health issues in the country. The prevalence of wasting among children was nearly 18% and the prevalence of diarrhoea was 19%.
As a consequence of the flooding, diarrhoea rates have risen sharply. During the period of April 2022 to February 2023, a reported 137,552 children under five in Balochistan had suffered from diarrhoea. In Sindh, more than 372,009 diarrhoeal cases had been identified in children under five from August 2022 to January 2023 alone.
Diarrhoea is one of the leading causes of child mortality and malnutrition, resulting from reduced food intake, malabsorption and nutrient loss. Malnutrition also increases the severity of diarrhoea. Children who are treated with zinc and low-osmolarity oral rehydration salts (LO-ORS) recover faster and are less likely to die from a diarrhoeal episode.