ISLAMABAD - A top UN diplomat has cautioned that Pakistan faces potential threat of flash flooding for the next year, saying that over a million flood-affectees in Sindh are still in need of food assistance.

“Climate change is causing extremely unexpected changes in the weather, a bit too quick. There have been flood predictions in Pakistan as well,” Kevin D Gallagher Country Director/ Representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Pakistan told this journalist on Wednesday.

He was responding to this newspapers’ queries on the FAO’s role here in connection with provision of food and related humanitarian assistance to the flood- hit people.

“Strong storms will continue to hit Pakistan and other parts of the world. The floodwaters from this year as well as the previous years have not diminished and so hasn’t the possibility that these floods and storms will keep happening again. That’s been a really challenging situation. The Arabian Sea is heating up and that’s creating really serious climatic conditions. Even a city like New York could not remain safe from the deadly storm,” he said referring to the Sandy Super storm that swept across the US East Coast to cause large-scale destruction in New York, New Jersey, Manhattan and other parts, in October this year.

Citing the government estimates that had gone wrong about this years’ floods in Pakistan, which were released by WAPDA (Water and Power Development Authority), Pakistan’s premier power body, the UN diplomat commented, “WAPDA estimated that the floods will hit above the dams and humanitarian response arrangements were made accordingly. But they swept through below the dams that caused massive destruction. There’re already more than a million flood-affectees in Pakistan who stand in need of humanitarian assistance like ensuring food security by means of continuous food supply and health care and medical assistance. Further humanitarian challenges coming out of storms or floods would simply compound humanitarian needs,” he said.

When asked about the funding constraints regarding the humanitarian assistance that the UN presently faced in Pakistan, the FAO Pakistan chief said, the UN agencies are working in close coordination with the Government of Pakistan to deal with the prevailing situation. “Funding constraints pose another real challenge. I agree. This is probably due to the donors fatigue factor. I mean, the humanitarian emergencies have continued in Pakistan since 2010. And before that, a deadly earthquake just ravaged so many parts of Pakistan. The UN agencies including FAO work in coordination with the NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority) and Provincial Disaster Management Authorities (PDMAs) to sensitise the donors about funding needs that stand tremendous in Sindh, Balochistan and other remote areas of Pakistan.”

This year, so far, the UN agencies and other international humanitarian organisations have received over $ 73 million for Pakistan Early Recovery Framework 2012 against the revised funding requirement of more than $ 440 million. (The $ 439 million was original requirement). Launched for the provision of humanitarian assistance to the flood victims in Sindh and some parts of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the humanitarian appeal for the ongoing year has been funded at nearly 17 percent. Of the funds received so far, the FAO has received $ 5.5 million against its requirement of nearly $ 28.20 million dollars.

This summer, the floods triggered by the monsoon rains swept through several parts of interior and central Sindh. The Sindh province was also inundated by flood waters last year. In 2010, the floods ravaged several districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Since then, the flash floods caused by the pre-monsoon and monsoon downpours have affected nearly 15 million people in Pakistan majority of whom has received humanitarian assistance, with their lives having returned to normalcy.

Kevin D Gallagher said, the FAO, in coordination with the government departments, has made standby arrangements to deal with any humanitarian situation for the next year. “We’re aware that the natural emergency triggered by the climate change is unfolding fast. Arrangements have been made accordingly,” he said.