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Development partners and champions of climate change need to do more. Three weeks since the launch of the UN’s Flash Appeal for ‘Pakistan Floods Response Plan 2022,’ just $59 million worth of funds have been raised by the global community, as per the latest data from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA). That’s just over a third of the $160 million appeal amount. As time passes by, urgency of the crisis will evaporate, further reducing limited global interest.

Part of the challenge in raising international assistance that is in proportion to this growing human catastrophe is the muddled state of crisis communication on part of the government. The fact that reliable estimates for damage to assets, livestock and infrastructure are still being firmed up has created an information gap, making appeals less impactful. Besides, unfortunately, the political disunity within the country has frustrated the calls for a unified national effort, sending a very negative perception abroad.

Moreover, the international response thus far has not been broad-based. Latest UN-OCHA data show that two-thirds of the funding to the UN appeal so far – about $39 million – have come from just one country – the United States. Other prominent donors include Australia and Canada. Those searching for an answer as to why friendly nations are not among the top donors look no further than PM Shehbaz’s recent statement where he lamented that those countries had become ‘fatigued’ by Pakistan’s problems.

In addition, it has been observed this far that the IFIs are yet to show as much concern as they did during the last super floods back in 2010, or even during the early phase of the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been reported recently that the IMF is going to offer any floods-related support for Pakistan within the confines of the existing EFF program. In other words, there may not be a new emergency loan – e.g. one that is on the lines of the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) loan that was provided during early Covid-19.

As for the multilateral development banks, there has not yet been any major announcement of significant support. So far, it appears that the banks are not in a rush to furnish significant additional financing specifically for floods. More likely, they may choose to re-purpose/re-program/re-direct financing from existing programs towards floods-related schemes and projects. This would be against the government’s wishes, as it is expecting additional external financing that can help fiscal capacity and external reserves.

The flood losses have the potential to not only blow a hole in the tight fiscal equation but also exacerbate external vulnerabilities. Now that the touring PM and his entourage are in the New York City for the UN General Assembly sessions, they better make their trip count. The PM’s speech at the UNGA will be a critical moment to present Pakistan’s case for large-scale foreign assistance to deal with immediate devastations as well as prepare for long-term defense against climate change. Let’s see if it works!


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