ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman has said that disaster amnesia is not uncommon in a world driven by competing goals, and the human tragedy wrought by Pakistan’s catastrophic flooding has been forgotten by many.
“But the climate-induced crisis in Pakistan has long-term implications for recovery and resilience in a context defined by systemic deficits in climate financing. with 20 million people still currently dependent on humanitarian aid, while flash appeals just for the humanitarian gap by the United Nations have received only 30% of the US$ 816 million,” she said.
The minister said, “When a country has people living on relief and multilateral assistance on the shores of vulnerability, with new lakes being created by climate events, it is not easy to plan for resilient recovery, because building back for complex climate poly crises implies transformational re-sets. These floods caused Loss and Damage worth US$ 30 billion, so just the rehabilitation and disaster-reconstruction needs are at least US$ 16.3 billion. This amount does not include investments required to support Pakistan’s adaptation to climate change and overall resilience of the country to future climate shocks.
The federal minister said, “The UN has warned that 8.4 to 9.1 million people will be pushed below the poverty line. Winter will be harsh on the forgotten arc of climate misery here. The numbers are too huge; 33 million impacted literally meant we were reinventing the lives of populations covering the size of three medium sized European countries at the same time. Today, after months of humanitarian operations, 14.6 million is the number of people who still need emergency food assistance from December 2022 to March 2023. We should not forget that almost 3.9 million people in Sindh and 1.6 million in Balochistan are facing severe food insecurity, with 5.5 million people no longer having access to safe and clean drinking water. The UN’s ongoing assistance is facing a looming risk of ending prematurely as they are running out of funds to continue the needed support. WFP has said that they will run out of funds by mid-January for Pakistan, putting an additional 1.1 million people at an extreme risk of food insecurity. Funds are being taken from every sector of the Pakistan government to meet survival needs, but the size of the need is huge.” The UN has received only US$ 262 million or just 30% from international donors out of the US$ 816 million under the Floods Response Plan.
“While the level of human suffering from the floods cannot be monetized, repercussions of climate extremes have torn apart the social infrastructure in the flood affected zones and people need immediate and urgent relief. We have to keep in mind that in Sindh, over 240,000 people remain displaced with at least 10 districts continuing to report standing water, while the same situation persists in two districts of Balochistan. People have started returning to their homes, but they now face compounding issues of food insecurity and health-related challenges,” she said.
Sherry Rehman warned that children are at the frontline of the flood aftermath, with 9.6 million children in urgent need of humanitarian assistance out of the total 20 million affected.
“With the onset of winter and temperatures dropping to single digits, the survival of children in camps is at stake. We urge all local philanthropists and international agencies to assist provincial governments in sharing this unprecedented burden with Pakistan. Along with our development partners, we estimate that 1.6 million children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, and 7 million are in desperate need of nutrition services. Over half a million children are expected to go unvaccinated in areas devastated by floods, which will be disastrous for Pakistan’s efforts to eradicate Polio. The future of these children is also in peril as more than 2 million have been forced to stay of school due to damages caused to more than 34,000 schools, with education for girls among the most impacted. This needs every donor’s help, or we will see an entire generation lost to this great flood,” she remarked.
Providing an update on the funds received, the minister said Pakistan has received around US$ 4 billion in financial foreign assistance to support flood relief activities in the country, out of which US$ 3.64 billion is in the form of loans and US$ 435.03 million in the form of grants.
“Resilience is an expensive business, and I fear that there is little scope for real adaptation by societies and governments under stress to just meet basic humanitarian needs, unless the requisite funds are pipelined,” she said.
Sherry Rehman concluded that, “World Bank has mentioned in its CCDR report that Pakistan needs to spend US$ 348 billion by 2030, or US$ 43.5 billion annually, in climate adaptation, resilience and de-carbonization to survive the impacts of climate change. To address this, the Government of Pakistan is currently working on the Resilient Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Framework (4RF) which will be presented to the international community and the donors at the Climate Resilient Pakistan Conference scheduled to be held in Geneva on January 9, 2023. The 4RFs will be a starting point for the government to ensure that drastic measures are taken for a resilient recovery. For the government, the resilient reconstruction of flood-hit areas in Pakistan is our top priority, and we look forward to the support from our international partners and donors. At Geneva, we will be presenting the case of the flood affected of Pakistan who have now become the forgotten victims as the cameras have moved away. We cannot allow them to become the forsaken as well because their misery continues even months after the catastrophic flood.”