Karachi, 24 August 2023 (TDI): An interview was held with Scott Whoolery, Chief of Field Operations and Emergency at UNICEF Pakistan.

The discussion primarily focused on UNICEF’s response to the devastating floods that struck Pakistan a year ago, affecting millions of individuals, especially children.

During the interview, Whoolery discussed UNICEF’s initial preparedness efforts, which included proactive measures such as pre-positioning critical supplies and having emergency preparedness plans in place.

However, he acknowledged that the scale of the disaster exceeded expectations, emphasizing the need for urgent global action on climate change.

Whoolery outlined UNICEF’s priorities during the initial stages of the emergency response.

The primary goal was to save lives, focusing on health, nutrition, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) needs in areas that were severely affected and isolated due to flooded roads.

He explained that UNICEF utilized boats when road access was unavailable, collaborating closely with the government and other UN partners.

Distinctive Needs of Children

Children, particularly the youngest ones, faced unique challenges during the emergency. Whoolery emphasized that they were more vulnerable to malnutrition and illnesses due to their developing immune systems.

UNICEF was crucial in addressing these challenges, providing child malnutrition support, safe drinking water, vaccinations, and establishing temporary learning centers and safe spaces for children.

Whoolery expressed immense pride in the dedication and commitment of the UNICEF team, highlighting their unwavering efforts to serve flood-affected communities under challenging conditions.

He emphasized the importance of their role in coordinating and providing essential supplies and services.

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Regarding preparedness for future emergencies, Whoolery mentioned that UNICEF had doubled its contingency stock since the previous year and updated its emergency response plans.

They maintained ongoing communication with the government and conducted capacity-building initiatives at provincial and district levels to ensure effective response.

Concerns and Hopes for Climate Change

Whoolery’s primary concern revolved around the impact of climate change on children in Pakistan and their ability to lead healthy, secure lives.

He expressed a hope for global collaboration in finding solutions to climate change, aiming to protect vulnerable children worldwide and provide them opportunities for a prosperous future.

Diagnosing Teerth at a UNICEF-supported mobile nutrition clinic for flood-affected children and women at Cattle Colony Camp in Umerkot District, Sindh. Teerth has been diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition.

In conclusion, the interview with Scott Whoolery shed light on UNICEF’s critical role in responding to the devastating floods in Pakistan. It highlighted the organization’s priorities, challenges, and the distinctive needs of children during emergencies.

Whoolery’s pride in the UNICEF team’s dedication and his call for urgent global action on climate change emphasized the importance of humanitarian efforts in safeguarding the world’s most vulnerable populations.