Saturday September 30, 2023

International donors hire 100 experts to determine flood losses

We have devised timelines for undertaking verification exercise to ascertain exact damages caused by floods till September 30, says planning secretary

September 23, 2022
A displaced flood-affected family sits under the shade of a cot bed at Dera Allah Yar in Jaffarabad district of Balochistan province on September 20, 2022.—AFP
A displaced flood-affected family sits under the shade of a cot bed at Dera Allah Yar in Jaffarabad district of Balochistan province on September 20, 2022.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: A Joint Steering Committee comprising 10 core international donors, under the leading role of Pakistan, has decided to launch countrywide verification for ascertaining the exact losses next week, caused by recent severe floods.

The preliminary assessment of economic losses and reconstruction costs shows that Pakistan requires over $30 billion over a medium to long-term plan for combating such a mammoth national-level disaster ever experienced in the country’s history.

In order to work out the reconciled cost, the international donors have hired 100 experts from all around the globe, especially from Turkey, Ecuador, and others having expertise to undertake damage and need assessment in disaster-hit areas and identified 12 to 17 sectors for ascertaining exact losses in Post Disaster Need Assessment (PDNA) exercise. It will be conducted jointly by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, United Nations and European Union along with representatives of Pakistan, including federal and provincial governments.

“We have devised timelines for undertaking verification exercise to ascertain exact damages caused by floods till September 30, 2022 and then detailed report about reconstruction requirement having medium to long term plan will be ready by October 15, 2022,” Federal Secretary, Ministry of Planning, Syed Zafar Ali Shah, said while briefing a select group of reporters here on Thursday. He said the government would decide to convene an International Donors Conference once they come up with the exact losses and reconstruction costs in the aftermath of floods.

The economic losses showed the country’s GDP growth faced negative impacts and lost growth rate by 3 percent in the wake of floods. The country’s GDP growth might go down to just 2 percent in the current fiscal year 2022-23 against an envisaged target of 5 percent.

Shah said that Pakistan will have to undertake its spadework for fully utilising funds from multilateral creditors, available funding for mitigating effects of climate change, greenhouse funding and exploring all other avenues. The recent floods caused damage in 84 districts and SUPARCO images showed that in Sindh’s flood-affected districts, 80 percent of houses were destroyed. The railway track was damaged severely and its construction cost was estimated at $2.5 billion.

The total accumulated losses, he said, were still evolving because in Sindh dewatering was not yet fully accomplished. He said they shared a template with the provinces with the direction to fill in details, so that the total losses could be worked out.

Initially, the damage assessment was on the lower side, so the government approved cash grants to affected people. But now the number of affected people has gone up to 33 million, so the scale of damage increased manifold. Now Islamabad would have to mobilise its domestic as well as donors’ resources to combat such a mammoth disaster. He was of the view that there was an unprecedented price hike even in the developed world and international community was engaged in Ukraine and other parts of the world. But after the visit of UN Secretary General, there was sensitisation at international level that Pakistan had become a victim of climate change though it was contributing much less to it than the developed world.

He said that Pakistan would present credible assessment on damages caused by the recent floods. He cited the example that initially it was estimated that the cotton crop evaporated but now it was re-assessed that 3 million bales were destroyed in the floods. It is yet to be seen how much prevalence of water in Sindh will cause damage to sowing of wheat in the province. The sowing of wheat would not be damaged much in Punjab.

He said the government has hired a Dutch consultant to revise the cost of flood rehabilitation plan, which had initially been estimated at Rs332 billion. It was approved by the Council of Common Interests with cost sharing formula of 50:50 percent borne by the Centre and provinces. The Flood Rehabilitation Plan would be updated. It was assessed initially the cost of flood rehabilitation structure might escalate close to Rs1,000 billion. The UN flash appeal of $160 million was not sufficient to respond to such a disaster and international community accepted it that Pakistan faced much more losses than the last floods of 2010.

The loses of Sindh, he said, could not be firmed up yet mainly because water still existed in the province. It seemed that the 80 percent areas of flood affected districts turned into canals and prevalence of water in every nook and corner of the areas. The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) used census data and other surveys to come up with its estimates of economic losses and it also estimated losses of $30 billion.

The official said that the World Bank and ADB had so far re-prioritized $353 million loans from projects and in the wake of visiting WB and ADB’s high-ups, it was hoped that more resources would be made available for flood affected areas. The ADB’s loan of $1.5 billion for Counter Cyclical Facility would help Pakistan to mitigate this disaster.

He said that the annual development outlay stood at over Rs2 trillion out of which the federal share of Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) stood at Rs800 billion, including Rs723 billion for ministries/divisions and Rs73 billion for Viability Gap Fund (VGF) for execution of projects through Public Private Partnership. The government undertook an exercise to re-direct resources towards flood-affected areas but did not share exact numbers of possible diverted share of resources out of the Rs800 billion allocated amount of PSDP for the current fiscal year.