Pakistan Flood Update: More US Funds, New UN Response Plan

Ruins of homes destroyed by the flood in Pakistan. The United States is allocating an additional USD15 million worth of immediate assistance to the country's flood victims. Photo by: N. James / UNHCR

The U.S. will allocate an additional USD25 million in flood aid to Pakistan.

The amount includes USD15 million to support the work of the World Food Program, primarily for the local and regional purchase of food aid, and the dispatch of food from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s pre-positioning site. The remaining USD10 million will be used to expand current emergency and aid programs in Pakistan.

The additional money brings the total U.S. contribution toward the Pakistan flood relief efforts to USD35 million.

“The need for response to this disaster is urgent, and even as we triple our financial commitment we remain flexible so we can meet new needs as they arise,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said in a statement. “We remain committed to working in support of the Government of Pakistan to identify gaps in assistance where USAID can be of assistance.”

In an Aug. 5 conference call hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center and U.S. Pakistan Business Council, Mary Beth Goodman, senior economic advisor to the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and representatives of non-governmental organzations and the Pakistani government said the most urgently needed aid supplies in Pakistan are water, food, medicine and shelter.

The British Disasters Emergency Committee has launched an emergency appeal to mobilize funding for Pakistani flood survivors. The umbrella organization of 13 U.K. humanitarian aid agencies said it has reached 300,000 Pakistanis.

DEC, meanwhile, said it “urgently” needs the British public’s help to provide more humanitarian assistance to communities affected by monsoon floods, BBC reports.

The U.N. is currently developing a flood emergency response plan that will provide more details regarding specific needs on the ground, Goodman said, adding that the plan is expected to be released over the weekend.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani government has launched a special relief fund where donors can opt to contribute assistance for flood victims, according to Zahid Chaudhri, who oversees Pakistan’s relief efforts at the country’s embassy in Washington. Chaudhri said cash donations are preferred but also shared a list of urgently needed supplies including milk, mineral water, cooking utensils, mosquito nets, anti-cholera medicines and personal hygiene items.

The list was prepared by Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority, which Chaudhri said is in charge of coordinating rescue and relief operations in the flood-affected areas.

Husain Haqqani, the Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., appealed for public and private sector assistance. The Pakistani government’s ability to respond to the disaster is limited, he said. As Devex reported, there has been growing frustration among flood victims on the pace and extent of the disaster response staged by the Pakistani government.

Key challenges

The full scope of the disaster has yet to be captured, several of the conference speakers noted. Numbers are shifting and the scale is definitely growing, said Brian Kelly, the head of emergency and stabilization programming at the International Organization for Migration. Kelly added that the assistance coming out does not match the needs on the ground.

The speakers confirmed what news agencies have been reporting as key impediments to the rescue and relief efforts: difficult terrain and damaged infrastructure.

Kelly shared that IOM also experienced difficulty sending aid out because the warehouses used by NGOs to store supplies were affected by the floods.

Long-term support

The Pakistani government has adopted a four-step response strategy, according to Goodman: rescue, relief, early recovery and long-term rehabilitation. The government and international response is currently focused on rescue and relief and preparing for the next two steps, she explained.

Asked how the U.S. private sector can possibly contribute to early recovery and long-term rehabilitation, Goodman and Kelly identified small grants to help Pakistanis recover their livelihood and rebuild their homes as potential forms of assistance. Kelly said most individuals affected by the floods do not have insurance and will need all the help they can get to rebuild their lives.

Rizza Leonzon contributed to this report.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.