Pledges poured in Geneva | By Naveed Aman Khan


Pledges poured in Geneva

PREMIER Shehbaz Sharif has announced a comprehensive framework for flood recovery and rehabilitation of Pakistan.

Completion of the plan will take three years. The scale of financial burden on Pakistan from floods is $33 billion which is 8% of the country’s GDP.

The first part of the framework will focus on flood recovery and reconstruction while the second part will prioritize reconstruction of highways and railways as well as setting up of a warning system.

Pakistan’s ability to recover from the large-scale disaster will hinge on the speed of these actions and international support will make a huge difference.

A total amount of $8.57 billion was secured in commitments in the first plenary of the day-long ‘International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan’ in Geneva. The second plenary commenced with Saudi Arabia committing $1 billion and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank pledging $1 billion as well.

To meet the huge needs, Pakistan and the UN co-hosted the international conference in Geneva, urging countries, organizations and businesses to step up with financial and other support towards a long-term recovery and resilience plan.

As many as 450 participants from 40 countries registered for the event, including representatives of the World Bank and several multilateral development banks.

For Pakistan’s resilient recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction $16.3 billion will be needed in all.

Government of Pakistan aims to cover half of this amount with domestic resources, including its development budget and through public-private partnerships.

But it was looking to the international community to cover the remainder, with the hope that the conference will generate significant pledges of support. European Commission announced support to the reconstruction of Pakistan of over €500 million.

The EU was among the first to react when the floods hit. The first plenary of day-long Geneva conference culminated in generous outpouring of the international community.

European Union pledged $93 million, Germany $88 million, China $100 million, IDB $4.2 billion, World Bank $2 billion, Japan $77 million, ADB $1.5 billion, USAID $100 million, France $345 million making total of $8.57 billion.

The Islamic Development Bank, as part of contributing to the achievement of Pakistan’s climate resilience and development objectives, pledged a financing amount of $4.2 billion over the next three years.

The Islamic Development Bank has pledged $4.2 billion for flood rehabilitation and reconstruction in Pakistan while World Bank has approved financing for 5 projects in Sindh. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank pledged $1 billion. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will prioritize up to $1 billion.

The World Bank committed $2 billion for the purpose while USAID pledged $100 million. Japan committed $77 million and Germany committed €84 million. In the second phase of the conference, Saudi Arabia announced $1 billion in pledge for flood aid while France enhanced its commitment to $345 million.

Water has yet to be drained from agricultural lands. The relief work is not over yet especially in parts of Sindh and Balochistan. One can go on and on about the records broken by the disaster but we are racing against time.

Shehbaz Sharif-led government has worked with the UN, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and European Union to prepare a comprehensive framework document for flood recovery and rehabilitation.

Half of the framework will be implemented from Pakistan’s own resources while the remaining half would be covered through international aid.

The floods have killed more than 2760 people and affected over 33 million, still not receded in parts of the country. Over 4 million children are still living in or around contaminated and stagnant flood waters.

Millions of people remain displaced and those who have been able to go back home are often returning to damaged or destroyed homes and mud-covered fields.

Food prices have soared, and the number of people facing food insecurity has doubled to 15.6 million.

Over 14 million more people could be dragged into poverty as a result of the flooding. The support from friendly countries will not only help with flood relief but also create fiscal space for the country which will help Pakistan implement the ongoing IMF program.

Pakistan remains committed to its international obligations and is on track to introduce a macroeconomic fiscal reform agenda that will focus on increasing revenues, and creating more fiscal space for reconstruction and rehabilitation.

Pakistan needs help and global cooperation. We urgently need short term financing. Pakistan was doubly victimized by climate change and a morally bankrupt global financial system.

This is a pivotal moment for the global community to stand with the people of Pakistan. The flood was cataclysmic. The waters may have receded, but the impact is still there.

Pakistan needs to rebuild and rehabilitate homes, roads, bridges and infrastructure. Despite enduring problems, the giving spirit of Pakistani people has shown brightly. We thank all the countries that disbursed financial assistance and aid in a bid to deal with flood catastrophe. Collectively we need to give the victims their future back.

The magnitude of this disaster is huge and we will have to prioritize resilient recovery. Massive reconstruction and rehabilitation effort needs to be undertaken.

—The writer is editor, book ambassador political analyst and author of several books based in Islamabad.