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A slow-moving disaster, the ongoing floods have claimed nearly a thousand lives since June, with over a third of them children, as per the latest government data. As per international estimates, over 2 million people have been left homeless (especially in Balochistan and Sindh), over 3 lac houses have either been damaged or destroyed, and over half a million livestock heads have perished. There is also significant damage to highways, roads and bridges, snarling up public and private response to the crisis.

Given that the rainy season is expected to continue even as millions of families are stranded, the first step is to plan and execute rescue operations, especially for children, women and seniors. Those rescued, then, need to be provided relief and shelter in makeshift arrangements. The third step is rehabilitation of affected families, which appears less urgent right now, but it will become prominent in a few months. There will be simultaneous need to tackle diseases and food shortages that come in the wake of floods.

The challenges are compounded by the fact that the ongoing devastation has affected all provinces and special areas, with Balochistan being the worst-hit province on a population-adjusted basis. There are echoes of the ‘Great Floods of 2010’ (as well as the less-severe, but still-lethal floods a year later in 2011). While the death toll is not at comparable levels yet, the PMD continues to forecast more heavy rains that can potentially lead to further flash-flooding, landslides and urban-flooding across the country.

Mired in political instability, the ill-prepared politicians and the policymakers seem to have belatedly woken up. While the remedy (mostly cash relief) is not enough, there is not much they can do right now in the face of the nature’s wrath. Already, the federal government has expressed its inability to deal with this crisis on its own, whereas the provinces are also having real difficulties managing this grave situation. Earlier this week, the federal government reportedly decided that it would launch an international appeal, as the public-sector’s financial and operational capacity would fall short in meeting the challenges.

While initial funding has been announced by some development partners, it isn't clear if Pakistan will be able to attract the kind of international support that it did after the 2010 floods. Back then, as per the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), Pakistan received floods-related funding of $2.65 billion from the international community. A quarter of that figure was provided by the US, 11 percent by Japan, 9 percent by the UK, 7 percent by the EU, and 6 percent by Saudi Arabia. Besides, several dozen other nations (and global aid organisation) also provided valuable financial assistance.

Large-scale relief and rehabilitation assistance was mobilized back then due to several factors. For instance, it really helped that the UN had immediately launched a global appeal – about half a billion dollars – to help Pakistan manage aftermath of the floods, which had caused over $10 billion in economic losses. Moreover, the US and its allies had incentives to stay engaged with Pakistan, mainly due to their counter-terrorism presence in Afghanistan. In addition, the ‘donor fatigue’ wasn’t there when floods hit Pakistan, as the world’s philanthropic capital wasn’t responding to multiple emergencies at the time.

Those conditions may not be present at the moment with the same urgency. Already, international development organizations are scrambling to deal with several humanitarian crises, including the Ukraine conflict, hunger crisis in Africa and Middle East due to high grain prices, the situation in Afghanistan, etc. Besides, several friendly countries are already helping Pakistan out via balance-of-payment support. While the US may still help, it has not been as diplomatically-engaged as it used to be a decade ago. What is crucial, therefore, is to have the UN to come forward and launch a global appeal to help Pakistan deal with these floods’ aftermath. That may unlock international assistance on a wider scale.

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MKA Aug 26, 2022 12:48pm
We all have to pool in. They do not need 200 units free electricity. Let that money be used for their relief. No free electricity.
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Hussain Aug 28, 2022 02:10pm
@MKA, we have been so perfectly conditioned that we think that we thinks in terms of this or that. Why not both?? IK had ehsaas program running, this disaster would have been a real test of his character and policies. We will never know.
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