Swollen pledges


As Pakistan is shouldering a robust recovery effort to get through the devastation inflicted by last year’s monsoon deluge, the resource-strapped country has raised its benchmark after securing hefty pledges from donor agencies and development partners for early rehabilitation of the flood-hit areas.
The flooding, which, by all means, is Pakistan’s worst climate disaster, left one third of the country submerged. According to statistics, the floodwaters claimed the lives of over 1700 people and affected another 33 million. It also washed away over two million homes, highways and bridges and also destroyed millions of acre agriculture lands. The devastation is feared to push into abject poverty an estimated nine million more people.
During an international conference on climate resilience, which was co-hosted by the United Nations in Geneva earlier this week, the Pakistani government has secured over 10 billion dollar pledges, which, when materialized, would boost its recovery and reconstruction effort.
The country is battling with large-scale destruction brought on by the environmental catastrophe and has been seeking a comprehensive commencement of long term partnership with its friends and development partners to initiate rehabilitation process as millions of people having lost their homes to the flooding are still living under the open sky.
Highlighting the flood devastation, Pakistan’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said around 33 million people, including 16 million children and 600,000 pregnant women, were severely affected by the floods. He said many areas of Pakistan are still under water even after the passage of six months of the disaster. He said we are still conducting our relief operations and are looking forward to our reconstruction and rehabilitation.
The foreign minister said the magnitude of damage Pakistan suffered is monumental, while we remain steadfast in responding to the emergency needs of the affected population and the urgency of saving lives, and livelihood.
Pakistan, already facing a cost-of-living crisis, a nose-diving rupee and dwindling foreign exchange reserves, saw inflation surge after the floods.
As such, the country needs a fundamental shift in its development strategy, requiring substantial investments in climate adaptation and resilience. After experiencing a historic flood, the country has to work out a comprehensive policy, involving private sector and international support, to complement its own commitment towards climate resilience and inclusive development.
The generous help from the United Nations, donor agencies, development partners and friendly countries has enabled the government to respond to this unprecedented climate catastrophe. The heroic response from the countrymen to the climate devastation has also played a major role to overcome the destruction.
As an enormous challenge of reconstruction lies ahead, the government would have to come out with a feasible strategy to utilize the international support in a manner that satisfies the flood-hit people as well as the donor agencies and also ensures early rehabilitation of the victims.