The flooding just keeps getting worse and worse. On Saturday, the UN estimated that 4 million people were affected by the flooding in Pakistan. By Sunday they revised that estimate to 6 million people. Today, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that over 13 million people are affected.
It is no wonder that a UN officials are saying this is bigger than the 2004 tsunami. In fact, that would make it bigger than the combined number of people affected by the Tsunami, Haiti earthquake and 2005 Kashmir earthquake…combined. Make no mistake: this is the worst natural disaster in recent history. Here is a map of affected areas from OCHA. That is alot of tragedy.
Beyond the human toll, this flooding has hit Pakistan’s breadbasket. The agriculture sector, in particular rice and cotton, is being devastated. As al Jazeera reports, this is threatening to cause a looming food crisis.
So far, a number of countries have stepped in to help. The UK has pledged nearly $8 million; Kuwait $5 million; and the United States and Australia approximately $4 million each. By the end of the week, I would imagine that there will be some sort of central fund into which private donors and individuals can contribute. We will also likely see OCHA put together an emergency appeal. Then, about a month later, they will revise that appeal based on a more thorough assessment of needs on the ground. That is what they did for Haiti. Given the scale of this disaster, though, I would imagine the appeal to reach into the billions.
UPDATE: I just mentioned this on Twitter, but it is worth noting that as of 1 pm EST there is not a single, solitary mention of the biggest humanitarian disaster in recent history on the homepages of the Washington Post or New York Times.