Funds for Pakistan flood relief arrive too little, too late Pakistan flood relief arrives too slowly

Nearly two months after the floods, governments have failed to deliver on aid promises

Two months after the devastating floods caused by climate change, millions of Pakistanis are still living on the roadsides and struggling to find food, shelter and clean water.

But the wealthy nations that bear the greatest responsibility for climate change have yet to deliver all the funds they promised, let alone enough funds to cover the damage caused.

Immediately after the floods, Pakistan’s Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said a conservative estimate of the damage caused was $10 billion. “This is a preliminary estimate likely to be much higher,” he said.

Despite this, Pakistan and the United Nations (UN) appealed on August 30 for just $160 million, a figure about 60 times lower than Iqbal’s estimate for damages.

Oxfam’s humanitarian manager, Magnus Corfixen, told Climate Home that figure was low because the UN assessment “did not include some of the worst affected districts as they were not affected by the first floods”.

Last week, the UN increased its appeal to $816 million. “We need all these funds, and we need them quickly,” said UN humanitarian coordinator for Pakistan Julien Harneis.

But UN data analyzed by Climate Home shows that wealthy countries have so far failed to provide enough aid to meet the UN’s initial call. This data depends on donor countries to report to them and is therefore not exhaustive, but is used by the UN and updated daily.

A UN spokesperson told Climate Home that governments have pledged more than $160 million, data shows they have actually only delivered $51 million. They signed contracts for an additional $39 million.

Of this amount, only $28 million comes directly from governments, including $26 million from the US government.

Another $16 million comes from a group of UK charities called the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), whose funding comes from the government and ordinary citizens.

The UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has donated an additional $7 million. They are funded by governments, mainly in northern Europe, and distribute funds for humanitarian aid as they see fit.

This lack of funding has an impact on the ground. Gul Wali Khan leads the Catholic Relief Service response in Pakistan. “It’s been a few months now,” he said, “and the support isn’t coming in at the speed or level required.”

After a recent visit to an affected area, Khan said: “There are 7.9 million displaced people, most of them standing on the side of the road. On one side is the sea and on the other c It’s the sea and the vehicles cross in the middle, so there’s not much privacy, not even a latrine available.”

Khan said his NGO is prioritizing cash distribution, trucking clean water, building latrines and providing shelter with funds provided in part by the US government.

Displaced people take refuge by the side of the road in the village of Thatta (Photo: Islamic Relief)

If he had more money, he said he would extend this aid to more parts of Pakistan and try to get more children back to school, by repairing toilets in schools damaged by the floods and building temporary schools. UN data indicates that no money was given for education.

Khan isn’t the only one making tough choices. A UN report found that “enormous needs” and “extremely limited resources” meant NGOs had to distribute just one tarpaulin to households for shelter from the sun and rain rather than two.

James Belgrave of the World Food Program told Climate Home that the WFP, government and NGOs have assessed hunger across Pakistan, based on measures such as the number of people who skip meals.

They prioritize areas where hunger is most severe and, he said, “depending on the amount of funding coming in, we would be able to grow and get more food to more people.” .

Funded by USAID, Concern Worldwide distributes cash in Pakistan (Photo: Concern Worldwide)

Sherzada Khan is Concern’s Country Director for Pakistan. He said his NGO has also had to do a “very unfortunate prioritization” because the money is “insufficient”.

He said the response has focused on cash distribution and that while this type of “flexible assistance is very welcome”, people need longer-term help.

The floods destroyed many crops that were about to be harvested. For the next harvest to be successful, farmers need seeds and fertilizers to plant crops in the coming weeks, he said.

With Pakistan being the world’s fourth-largest rice exporter, a failure will drive up already high prices globally.

Children fill up water from a truck. (Photo: Action Against Hunger)

Needs on the ground have grown and changed over the past two months, Khan said.

Water-borne diseases have spread among the displaced people and now, with the onset of winter, respiratory diseases are likely to increase.

“Wintering kits”, such as warm clothes for children, are also needed as the country cools.

“We understand that [donor governments] will have their own mechanisms, bureaucratic procedures and administrative obstacles…but if you translate the impact of [relief] not getting to the ground in a timely and efficient manner is going to cost a lot more,” Khan said.

None of the aid groups Climate Home spoke to said the slow donor response was unusual. “Funding for these things can often be quite slow, it takes a while to arrive,” Belgrave said.

One solution, according to Clare Shakya of the International Institute for Environment and Development, is to expand CERF. While disaster damage has soared, its funding has remained stable.

Donations to CERF (Photo: CERF/Screenshot)

“Countries experiencing loss and damage from climate impacts to which they cannot adapt should receive funding ideally before a predicted emergency or at least within days of it,” she said. .

Shakya added that countries should be able to access sovereign insurance for disasters that might occur once every ten years or so and that Pakistan’s lenders should suspend repayment of its debt.

Pakistan has pleaded for debt relief, with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif warning that “all hell will break loose” without it. But his government dropped that call after credit rating agency Moody’s downgraded its rating, meaning it will have to pay more to borrow.

Harjeet Singh, from the Climate Action Network, said: “The flood response in Pakistan is a clear example of how affected communities are now at the mercy of individual promises which may or may not be kept.”

He called for the establishment of a loss and damage financing mechanism, a key demand of many developing countries in the climate negotiations that is expected to dominate COP27 next month.

EU outlines funding options to help climate victims recover

This would make it possible to assess needs after a climate-caused disaster and request specific amounts of money from governments based on factors such as their contribution to climate change.

A spokesman for Canadian Development Minister Harjit Sajjan said the government was “ensuring that these funds are disbursed in a timely manner to enable partners to meet urgent needs” and “we remain in close contact with our partners.” humanitarian aid and continue to seek ways to support the people of Pakistan.

A spokesperson for the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said: “We have committed over £16m ($17.7m) in funding to provide lifesaving aid to those most affected. by these devastating floods.” When asked if this includes DEC funding, the spokesperson did not respond at press time.