Thursday, February 03, 2011

The Pakistani floods up-date

Pakistan suffered one of the biggest natural disasters of its history last August and the unprecedented floods of 2010 dislodged more than 20 million people residing over an area of 132,000 sq. kilometers. 5.3 million jobs were lost due to floods and many hospitals, schools, and roads were either destroyed or damaged. Almost two thousand people died. Hundreds of thousands of people still live in temporary shelters. Many neighborhoods in Sindh province continue to be water and tens of thousands of displaced people are living out in the open. According to the United Nations Children's Fund and a Sindh provincial government survey, almost a quarter of the children in the province are suffering from malnutrition as a result of the floods. Meanwhile, a recent study by Save the Children, found almost 90 per cent of children in affected areas were suffering from stress.

After this disaster, several countries and donors pledged $1.87 billion in term of grant and goods for the flood victims. Foreign donors and countries have yet to fulfil their pledges made for the flood-affected people of Pakistan, as so far the country has received only $489 million (26 percent) of the total $1.8 billion committed assistance. remaining $1.37 billion assistance is still in the pipeline. Out of the total disbursement, $287.5 million was in shape of grant and $202 million in shape of goods.

Australia, Saudi Public Fund Relief, Canada and Turkey private public fundraising had pledged $67.5 million, $242 million, $33 million and $130.9 million respectively, however, not a single penny has been received from them so far.

US and USAID commitment was $381.5 million for the INGOs out of which only $68 million have so far been disbursed, while $313.5 million are in the pipeline. EU has disbursed $87.5 million as against the commitment of $187.5 million, UK has disbursed $48 million of the total $117.7 million and Iran has provided $1.2 million of the total $101.2 million. Some $100 million was agreed by Saudi Arabia while it spent $45 million, China pledged $50.7 million and has paid $21.2 million, Germany pledged $43.8 million and disbursed $37.5 million and Netherlands promised $43.3 million and has paid only $8.4 million. Denmark and other donors disbursed $12 million and $86.7 million as against promised amount of $33 million and $264.2 million respectively.

The Turkish government and the UN are the only donors, who have 100 percent fulfilled their commitment.

A study has found that the floods could have been predicted 8-10 days beforehand and could have been less catastrophic if weather forecasts had been shared with Pakistan. The American Geophysical Union said the information did not reach Pakistan because of a "lack of cooperation between the forecasting centre and Pakistan".

"This disaster could have been minimised and even the flooding could have been minimised," said Peter Webster, a professor of earth and atmospheric science at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and lead writer of the study."If we were working with Pakistan, they would have known eight to 10 days in advance that the floods were coming." Dr Webster said he spent five years developing a flood-forecasting system for Bangladesh and a similar warning system in Pakistan he believes could have cost as little as $100,000 a year to run." can quite cheaply set up a flood warning system.”

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