According to UNICEF, with more than 20 million people affected, the Pakistan emergency "exceeds the combined number of people affected by the 2004 Indian ocean Tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake."

Following requests from UN agencies coordinating the humanitarian relief activities in the country, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) pledged in September to provide funds to CANADEM to deploy disaster relief experts.

Jalozai IDP Camp Health Corner (2009) ©Gerrit Brouwer


These experts are being deployed through CANADEM's Rapid Onset Humanitarian Emergency Experts Fund (RAP-Fund). Through the RAP-Fund, CANADEM seconds Canadian experts to UN agencies' field offices worldwide as surge capacity personnel, in response to urgent requests following rapid onset humanitarian disasters - such as floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, or sudden outbreak of conflict.

A direct result of the devastating floods that have plagued Pakistan, the severe psychological and social impact on children and families has become a primary concern. Hundreds of children have lost their families, and secual violence is increasing, as thousands of children are left unsupervised in temporary refugee camps.Hélène Villeneuve, a Québec-based specialist in Child Protection, Essau N'Gatta, a logistics officer, and Jan Gerrit Brouwer, a child protection expert were deployed to assist UNICEF Pakistan's relief activities. They are working with experts from UNICEF and other humanitarian organizations to coordinate efforts to protect children, including family tracing, providing access to basic services, and ensuring protection of children against sexual abuse.

John Lapointe was deployed to join the International Organization for Migrations (IOM) Pakistan field operations as emergency shelter cluster deputy coordinator, along with Tom Fellows, a hub operations specialist. They will assist IOM in providing essential services such as facilitating and monitoring refugee movement, family reunification, ressettlement and reintegration assistance.

William Brausch, a GIS expert, headed out to assist UNICEF's nutrition activities. 4 months after floods first struck Pakistan, the number of victims remains at 20.36 Million – one in ten Pakistanis. Among these, UNICEF estimates that 126,000 children under five suffer from severe acute malnutrition, while another 420,000 are malnourished. To coordinate relief efforts and deliver food provisions to affected victims, a proper mapping of the areas affected and of current aid distribution networks is essential. Herein lies Braunsch’s specialty: GIS mapping and information management.

“It is deeply gratifying to have a chance to take part in something much bigger than myself, says Braunsch. GIS – geographic information system – is a set of tools that captures and analyzes statistical and geographical data to reveal trends and relationships. “I have never worked in a disaster context as widespread as this, and I am looking forward to applying my knowledge and the experience I’ve picked up throughout my years working in GIS to assisting these communities in need. It is amazing to be a small part of a much greater effort to change peoples’ lives.” His expertise will be vital in helping the UNICEF nutrition team map out the nutrition patterns in Pakistan and better target their delivery of humanitarian assistance to the flood victims.

Jalozai IDP Camp Health Worker Promoting Hygiene (2009) ©Gerrit Brouwer

There is still much to do in all areas of humanitarian aid in Pakistan. With this current funding from CIDA, CANADEM will continue to rapidly deploy the experts needed to help rebuild not only the lives of flood victims, but also the communities in Pakistan affected by this tragedy.

For more information on CANADEM's RAP-FUND, click here.