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The Humanitarian Response to the Pakistan Floods
House of Commons
About this resource
The Pakistan floods of 2010 affected more than 18 million people, one tenth of the total
population and more than the Haiti earthquake. Eight months later humanitarian needs
remain unmet and there are still thousands living in camps.
The main actors involved in the response were the Government of Pakistan and the UN
agencies. DFID also played a role as did many non-governmental organisations and other
humanitarian agencies such as the Red Cross.
The Government of Pakistan’s response was commendable, but its resources and capacity
were dwarfed by the scale of the damage. Local capacity and the NGO presence were
greater in the north and recovery there has been much quicker than in the south of the
country. Building up local capacity is important since these are the first people to respond
The floods also overwhelmed the international system which was already stretched by the
earthquake in Haiti. The UN response was patchy with poor leadership and coordination.
In terms of strategic leadership, the UN needs more people capable of managing complex
humanitarian responses and coordinating humanitarian agencies. In terms of
coordination, there were also too many NGOs at some cluster meetings to make them
effective—fewer, more experienced agencies would have improved outcomes. The UN
must begin to reconsider its strategic and operational leadership. The UK has a key role to
play as a catalyst for these changes since most of the Government’s humanitarian aid is
channelled through the UN and the EU.
The UK responded swiftly and generously to the crisis. DFID provided £134 million in
humanitarian assistance and the British public donated at least £64 million directly to
NGOs through the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal. In addition many more
Pakistanis living in the UK helped by increasing their level of remittance. We are proud of
the UK’s leadership.
The frequency and severity of natural disasters are predicted to increase. Along with
increases in population, especially in urban centres, the number of fatalities and the extent
of damage to physical infrastructure are likely to increase. The international humanitarian
system needs to be more prepared for these risks. Greater attention must be paid to disaster
preparedness and risk reduction. DFID must integrate this more fully into its development
programmes wherever it works.