Climate change: Pakistan seeks funding after destructive 2022 floods

Pakistan, still struggling with the aftermath of last year’s devastating floods, is asking billions of dollars in international aid on Monday to rebuild and better withstand the consequences of climate change.

The country, the fifth most populous in the world with 216 million inhabitants, is responsible for less than one percent of greenhouse gas emissions. But it is one of the most vulnerable to the increasing number of extreme weather events.

Pakistan and the United Nations are hosting an international conference in Geneva on Monday, where they will call on countries, organizations and businesses to increase their support, including financial support, for the country’s long-term reconstruction and climate resilience plan.

The conference will open with speeches by Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Other heads of state and government are due to speak there, including a number by videoconference, such as French President Emmanuel Macron, his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Floods in Pakistan: persistent damage (AFP – Nalini LEPETIT-CHELLA)

According to Pakistan’s “Resilient Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Plan”, which will be officially presented at the conference on Monday, some 16.3 billion dollars (15.3 billion euros) are needed in total.

The Pakistani government believes it can fund half of it through its own budget and public-private partnerships, but needs the international community to pay for the rest.

Some 450 participants from around 40 countries are expected, including representatives from the World Bank and development banks.

– “Crucial moment” –

“The waters may have dropped, but their impact is still there,” laments Achim Steiner, administrator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), who describes the floods as a “cataclysmic event”. “We need a massive reconstruction and rehabilitation effort.”

Vast swaths of the territory remained inundated for months, and the waters, which at one time covered up to a third of the country, have still not receded from some southern areas. The level of destruction is immense.

More than 1,700 people died and 33 million others were affected.

A woman displaced by the floods and her daughter, treated in a hospital in Johi, in the Pakistani province of Sindh, on September 27, 2022 (AFP/Archives - Rizwan TABASSUM)
A woman displaced by the floods and her daughter, treated in a hospital in Johi, in the Pakistani province of Sindh, on September 27, 2022 (AFP/Archives – Rizwan TABASSUM)

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), up to four million children still live near contaminated and stagnant floodwaters.

Millions of people remain displaced, far from their homes, and those who have been able to return home often find damaged or destroyed homes and fields covered in mud that cannot be planted.

Food prices have soared and the number of food-insecure Pakistanis has doubled to 14.6 million, according to the UN.

The World Bank estimates that up to nine million more people could fall into poverty as a result of the disaster.

“This conference is in many ways the start of a process that will span several years,” Pakistani Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Khalil Hashmi said last week, referring to a “crucial moment for the international community stands with the people of Pakistan”.

Islamabad and the UN explain that Monday’s event aims much wider than a traditional donors’ conference, as it seeks to establish a long-term international partnership focused on reconstruction, but also aimed at improving climate resilience. from Pakistan.

Pakistan “is, fundamentally, a victim of a world that is not acting fast enough in the face of the challenge of climate change”, for Mr. Steiner, who warns that without international aid, the country will endure for a long time “an extraordinary level of misery and suffering”.

Add a Comment