Pakistan flood crisis: The government's faults

One of the tents displaced people live in since the massive flooding in Pakistan. Photo by: Lise Albrecthsen / Utenriksdepartementet / CC BY-ND

The Pakistani government is partly to blame for the devastating impact of last year’s floods on the country, according to a new NGO-endorsed report released Thursday (Feb. 16).

Six months since Pakistan was inundated by severe flooding, particularly in the provinces of Balochistan and Sindh, 2.5 million people still lack food and permanent housing. People who have returned to their villages continue to live in makeshift shelters. And persistent floodwaters have prevented thousands of families from planting crops, leaving them food insecure.

International donors have repeatedly been criticized for their slow response to the Pakistani floods in August. But the paper, titled ”Pakistan Floods Emergency — Lessons From a Continuing Crisis,” says the government of Pakistan also waited several weeks before allowing international aid agencies to join the relief effort.

More than 2 million people have already been affected by the floods by the end of August, but the government only allowed international intervention on Sept. 7, the report says.

Government authorities’ restrictions on aid agencies, such as limiting unconditional cash grants, have also caused complications and delays in the aid effort. The report says aid agencies had to redesign their programs and provide goods instead of cash, which harmed local businesses.

And while the government has provided aid to thousands of people, some cases of social discrimination and political bias have resulted in many families receiving little to no assistance.

The Pakistani government needs to do more to limit the impact of disasters, whose severity, the report says, is likely to increase due to climate change. While the government has employed many strategies and disaster management structures, greater political commitment and resources are needed to make them more effective.

In October, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zadari pledged to champion disaster prevention and scale up efforts to improve the country’s early warning systems. This January, the country’s National Disaster Management Authority announced plans of developing a 10-year disaster management strategy — with help from the Japan International Cooperation Agency — to better prepare the country for the next natural calamity.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.