Monday March 27, 2023

Over $10bn needed for rebuilding, rehabilitation: Sherry

We must unite for Pakistan to deal with this climate catastrophe, says Sherry Rehman

September 01, 2022
Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman. —Sherry Rehman Twitter
Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman. —Sherry Rehman Twitter

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman Wednesday said more than $10 billion would require for rebuilding and rehabilitation of people as monsoon rains and floods have destroyed more than 5000 km of roads and 243 bridges while nearly a million homes are either fully or partially damaged in the country, especially in Sindh and Balochistan.

“We must unite for Pakistan to deal with this climate catastrophe. Monsoon rains in Sindh and Balochistan have surpassed 30-year averages and have taken more than 1,191 lives, with well over 33 million severely affected.” Besides, Sindh and Balochistan, “the north too is badly affected, with rising levels of Indus from the outflows of the Kabul River. The task of rebuilding in places has already begun, but it will be a mammoth task. If we are to build back better, it will honestly require more than the $10 billion that is being talked about”, she told a news conference in Islamabad.

Accompanied by Commerce Minister Naveed Qamar and Minister of State for Law and Justice Shahadat Awan, Sherry Rehman said climate resilient infrastructure is expensive, and requires scientific designing, with fortifications to withstand climate shocks. “The same will be the case for crops. Right now Sindh’s crop is almost all wiped out”.

 She maintained that Pakistan has never seen a disaster of such epic proportions in living history, saying these are moments of extreme fragility for the country. “This is an all hands on deck crisis, and we cannot rest until the huge needs and relief gap on the ground are met. In such times of distress, we should avoid the politics of polarization and division in a country under severe public stress”, she added.

 “We are entering the ninth week of this flood catastrophe. Even despite a huge concerted relief effort delayed because of the hard rain not letting helicopters take off, the affected population is well over 33 million. They all need shelter, water to drink, hygiene kits and cooked food. We are grateful for civil society activists and philanthropists who are coming forth in big numbers now. We need everyone to help”, Sherry Rehman maintained.

According to her, the next stage will be health management because the flood victims will be exposed to water-borne diseases. This could soon become a health disaster. “We are under-resourced at the moment, but we implore everyone to donate as much as possible to reliable organisations. We have repurposed our funds to service the relief effort including the BISP cash transfers to deal with the immediate calamity. It is still not enough. All of us must stand united in the face of this devastation”, she urged.

Answering a question on Shaukat Tareen’s phone calls which attempted to scuttle the IMF deal, she said “it unfortunately still seems like PTI is practising personal politics; the leaked audio calls are a glaring example. The fact that they didn’t deny its contents says it all. Not having the country’s best interest in the middle of a crisis is unheard of”. “The entire PPP has been in jail at one point or another, but despite the worst torture no one has ever tried to subvert national goals. This kind of politics is both dangerous but also shockingly self-serving. If the IMF deal had not gone through, were they ready to take Pakistan towards default? This isn’t some playground for politics; people’s lives are at stake. There are formal forums to discuss economics and provincial resource distribution issues you might have, but trying to sabotage a crucial IMF deal at a time when the country is facing multiple crises, shows Khan’s politics to be shockingly self-regarding at the expense of its people, of its state. There surely could have been enough time for politics. Was this the time?

She said seeing the focus shift from the millions affected by the flood is quite shocking, adding that on social media, there is nothing but abuse, both personal, sexist and political by an army of opposition bots, whereas the time and focus should be on giving relief where one can. “The prime minister has also extended an olive branch to the opposition, but they continue both abuse and division. We need to unite to amplify our relief efforts a thousandfold”, she added.

While discussing the global community’s role, she said: “We are at the ground zero of this climate catastrophe created by the GHG emissions of richer countries. Make no mistake, climate change has caused this catastrophe. Even the UN acknowledges that. It is now a question of whether we have the long-term will and resources to adapt better.

Meanwhile, Secretary of Agriculture and Livestock Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dr Israr Khan said the recent floods caused a loss of around Rs.90 billion in the farming and horticulture sectors. The losses to the livestock sector have been estimated at around Rs. 2 billion while damage to water channels has been estimated at around Rs.3 billion. He said in the initial surveys it has been estimated that the devastating flood has damaged different farmlands and orchards to the tune of around Rs.90.6 billion. He said the dairy farm sector has faced colossal losses due to lumpy skin disease which also caused a reduction in the sale of meat, milk and other dairy products.

Meanwhile, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas Khan while announcing his personnel financial contribution of Rs 30 million for flood affectees, said that despite the financial crunch, the government of Azad Jammu Kashmir has contributed financial relief of Rs. 250 million to flood-ravaged people in Balochistan.

Talking during a fund-raising event in Muzaffarabad, he said that torrential rains have caused havoc all across the country and Azad Kashmir to have suffered losses worth billions of rupees. Infrastructure worth billions of rupees was destroyed. Since the government of Azad Kashmir does not have enough resources, despite that we mobilized the KORT, the biggest NGO of Azad Jammu Kashmir and a package of Rs.250 million including Rs.100 million in cash and goods worth Rs. 150 million was dispatched to the affected areas of Balochistan , he added. He said that imposing cuts on the regions budget amply demonstrated the federal government s step-motherly attitude towards the government of Azad Kashmir. Hailing the party chairman for introducing a transparent charity system in the country, the prime minister said that the PTI chief Imran Khan is the man who introduced the use of charity and transparent funding system in Pakistan.

So far as many as 16 consignments of relief goods and equipment have been received so far from friendly countries to assist efforts in the flood-hit areas of the country. According to the official sources, the maximum relief consignments of seven aircraft were sent from Turkey on C-130 aircraft carrying 600 family tents, 1,008 food boxes, 1000 hygiene boxes, 395 kg baby food, 2000 blankets, 432 cooking kits, 1,440 pillows, 1,296 mattresses, and 426,093 medical kits.

Similarly, five C-130 aircraft from the United Arab Emirates were received carrying 90,450 pounds (lbs.) of foodstuff including rice and lentils etc., food items, hygiene kits and tents. From China, four Y-20 aircraft carrying 3,000 tents were also received so far. The sorties started arriving on August 28 while responding to the call for foreign assistance to support the relief efforts after devastating floods that hit various parts of the country.

Upon the request of the Government of Pakistan, the Government of Japan has decided to provide emergency relief goods, containing tents and plastic sheets, through Japan International Cooperation Agency.