For hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis forced by the floods to abandon their homes, food is a primary concern: some families have gone days without a meal.
Frances Kennedy, a World Food Programme (WFP) spokesperson, told IRIN: “We are very concerned about the nutritional situation. About 2.8 million people have been reached, but there are others in need. Camps are crowded and people are sleeping on sides of the roads.”
WFP has been supplying “dry rations” (family rations for a month), made up of wheat flour fortified with vitamins and minerals, cooking oil and high-energy biscuits.
“This allows us to reach more people, more quickly… These distributions are at different points across the flood zone - both in camps and other locations identified through our assessments and where partners have been able to set up distribution sites,” Marcus Prior, a WFP spokesman, told IRIN.
Currently about 4.8 million people are without shelter, “although we believe this may have gone up considerably with the latest developments in Sindh,” said Maurizio Giuliano, a spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
IRIN spoke to five families displaced by the floods to find out how they were coping.
Name: Ramzan Muhammad, 40
Family: Wife; three children aged 4-10
Location: Camp, Dera Ghazi Khan, Punjab Province
Number at camp: About 500
Food consumed in last 24 hours: Items distributed twice a day: Rice, vegetables, cooked chicken. Occasional distribution of milk in cartons*
“The food we are getting is adequate and things have improved compared to the first few days after the floods hit and we were marooned on the rooftop of a neighbour. Our own roof had cracked. There was almost no food for three days,” said Ramzan.
Name: Pannu Soorat, 45
Family: Wife and five children aged 2-14; mother aged 65
Location: Roadside, 20km outside Thatta in Sindh Province
Food consumed in last 24 hours: Three packets of potato crisps, a few sweets and a banana handed over by a passing team of TV reporters
“There is no space in the camp we went to. We are tired. My mother has a bad leg and we can’t walk any further. We are also told the camps won’t let us bring in the three goats we brought with us, so what are we to do with them?” asked Pannu.
Name: Salim Faisel, 56
Family: Wife and three children aged 24-32; two grandchildren aged six months and three years
Location: Multan, Punjab Province, staying with a cousin
Food consumed in last 24 hours: Lentils with ‘roti’ (flatbread); ladies’ fingers curry, ‘pakoras’ (fried chick-pea dumplings), some yoghurt
“We fled our village near Muzaffargarh [in Punjab Province] three weeks ago. The situation was terrible at the camps, so we moved in with my cousin. Like us, he is very poor, so we survive on the basics - but we are lucky - at least we are getting something to eat,” said Salim.
Name: Hasan Baloch, 30
Family: Wife; one child aged two
Location: Camp near Sibi, Sibi District, Balochistan Province
Food consumed in last 24 hours: A single, small plate of lentils
“The situation here is terrible. We left our home in Jafarabad District [Balochistan Province] two weeks ago and have lived off almost nothing since then. My son is now sick with fever and we have no food to give him,” said Hasan.
Name: Asadullah Khan, 40
Family: Wife and four children aged 3-11; parents aged 70 and 60
Location: At home in Nowshera
Food consumed in last 24 hours: ‘Roti’ with yoghurt, some lentils
“Prices have rocketed after the floods. We are back in our home but can hardly afford to buy even the lentils, flour and vegetables, like onions, that fed us in the past,” said Asadullah.
* All food items listed were shared between the whole family.