When the monsoon floods wreaked havoc in Pakistan in 2022, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme promptly availed qualified and skilled UN Volunteers to respond to the emergency with UN partners and the Government of Pakistan. Within two weeks, the first of 37 UN Community Volunteers had assumed their duties with the World Food Programme (WFP) in the aftermath of this environmental disaster.
WFP supported the government as it mobilized to provide immediate food assistance to families in the areas hit worst by the flooding. UN Volunteers were an integral part of the WFP team.
The volunteering spirit comes with its own energy. The enthusiasm that UN Volunteers bring is as valuable to the organization as it is to the people we serve. During the flood emergency response, the contribution of the UN Volunteers enabled WFP to engage with communities at district level that we otherwise may have struggled to reach. We are very thankful for the tireless efforts and strong commitment of UN Volunteers to saving lives and changing lives. --Chris Kaye, WFP Country Director in Pakistan
Sanam Gul and Wajahat Hussain Soomro are among 37 UN Community Volunteers who were deployed to WFP. They have been distributing food and cash to flood-affected people.
With her prior experience in social welfare, Sanam was among the first batch of UN Community Volunteers who started with the WFP response team within two weeks. "When I applied to become a UN Volunteer, I wanted to contribute in responding to the floods and give back to my community, especially during this unparalleled time," Sanam says.
During my assignment, I have been monitoring emergency assistance to remote areas in Dadu district. I have also been verifying food ration distribution to families in need, including marginalized groups, the elderly and persons with disabilities. --Sanam Gul, UN Community Volunteer with WFP, Pakistan
Sanam herself and her family were directly affected. "All crops in my home district, Dadu, were badly affected. My native village Gul Muhammad Chandio Taluka K. N. Shah was totally submerged by the floods. Three of my brothers’ houses, household items and livestock were severely damaged," she remembers.
Wajahat Hussain Soomro also witnessed the floods in his hometown. "Many of my friends lost their homes, cattle and all other belongings. Roads were full of internally displaced people, children were crying and everyone was worried," he reminisces.
In September 2022, Wajahat joined WFP as a UN Volunteer Monitoring Assistant to coordinate food distribution. "I travel across the flood-affected districts to ensure that WFP’s food baskets are delivered to vulnerable families, leaving no one behind," Wajahat explains.
Across Pakistan, 33 million people in 94 districts were affected by the floods, including Dadu district, where agriculture and livestock are the main sources of income. To date, 20.6 million people are reported to be in need of humanitarian assistance. Of these, 14.6 million require emergency food assistance and seven million children require nutrition services.
Since the beginning of its emergency response efforts, WFP has supported 3.7 million flood-affected people with 77,745 metric tonnes of relief food and nutrition assistance and over US $23.3 million in cash-based transfers. Despite this, a nutrition emergency is unfolding, as rapidly increasing numbers of severe acute malnutrition cases are being reported in several districts of Sindh and Balochistan.