World Bank to provide $900M in emergency funding for Pakistan floods, country's High Commissioner provides rough damage estimate

The World Bank on Monday "pledged to reroute money from other projects to provide $900 million in emergency funding to help Pakistan" with its flood recovery efforts, the New York Times reports (Ellick, 8/17).

"The funding for this would come from the Bank's Fund for the Poorest (the International Development Association, IDA) through reprogramming of currently planned projects and reallocation of undisbursed funds from ongoing projects," according to PTI/The Hindu. The article also looks at efforts to assess the damage by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the U.N. The World Bank said an assessment could be complete by October 15, if there is no additional flooding (8/17). "The economic cost [from flooding] is expected to be huge," according to a press release from the bank. "Preliminary information indicates that direct damage from floods is greatest in the housing (current estimates are that 723,000 houses have either been destroyed or damaged), roads, irrigation and agriculture sectors. Crop loss is estimated at $1 billion. However, the full impact on soil erosion and agriculture can only be assessed when the water recedes, by mid-September" (8/16).

Also Monday, Pakistan's High Commissioner to Britain said rebuilding from the severe flooding could cost between $10 billion and $15 billion and take at least five years, Reuters reports. High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan said the figure was a rough estimate and that a damage assessment had not yet been carried out. "Hasan said about 2,000 people had died - earlier estimates put the death toll at 1,600 - and said this number was expected to rise as people began to die of disease," the news service writes (MacDonald, 8/17).

U.N. Warns Pakistan Is Not Receiving Enough Aid

On Tuesday, the U.N. warned "that Pakistan was not receiving enough aid money or emergency supplies to prevent a potentially wider scale disaster after weeks of crippling floods left millions without food, shelter and clean water," the New York Times reports (8/17). "The vast geographical extent of the floods and affected populations meant that many people have yet to be reached with the assistance they desperately need," said a statement from the U.N., the Associated Press reports. The U.N. "also said the number of children and breast-feeding mothers affected and rising diarrhea cases 'point toward a clear risk of malnutrition among the affected population'" (Khan, 8/17). 

U.N. spokesperson Maurizio Giuliano said up to 20 million people in Pakistan require aid and at least eight million people are in need of emergency assistance, the New York Times writes. "Money is not coming in as fast as we would like," Giuliano said (8/17). U.N. officials made appeals for aid on Tuesday as they "battled donor fatigue," Reuters reports. "We have a country which has endemic watery diarrhoea, endemic cholera, endemic upper respiratory infections, and we have the conditions for much much expanded problems," said UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia Daniel Toole. "We cannot spend pledges. We cannot buy purification tablets, we cannot support Pakistan with pledges. I urge the international community to urgently change pledges into cheques."

Giuliano said that only "a limited proportion of food and water needs have been met. One of the major reasons for this is funding." He said, "Floods do not come in 30 seconds ... but the humanitarian needs are greater than in Haiti" (Haider, 8/17). PBS' NewsHour interviewed Michael Young, regional director for Asia, the Caucasus, and the Middle East at the International Rescue Committee, about relief efforts on the ground. "The first logistical problem is a simple one. There is not enough money getting through that can be translated into aid on the ground," Young said (Brown, 8/16).

Meanwhile, the WHO "is asking Pakistan to investigate a reported case of cholera in the northwest Swat Valley amid concern that an epidemic could break out in flood affected areas," according to the AP. Cholera is epidemic in the country and could be unrelated to an outbreak. International rules mandate Pakistan to look into the case and report the findings to the WHO, said Paul Garwood, a spokesperson for the agency. But it is Pakistan's decision on whether to declare an outbreak (8/16).

News Outlets Cover Flood's Health-Related Impact

"Tens of thousands are now infected in the camps for the displaced. Doctors are seeing outbreaks of acute diarrhea, the precursor to fatal cholera," ABC World News reports. "In many areas, all that is standing in the way of the diseases are tiny, charity-run clinics delivering aid the government is not able to give. ... The camps also have very few supplies: simple tents, no clean water, no sanitation. But they do have one thing the displaced are looking for: high ground, away from the floodwaters" (Sciutto/Acosta, 8/16).

CNN examines the threat of water-borne diseases. "The only recourses from the threat of waterborne illnesses are clean water and medical care - but both are in short supply. Polluted floodwater, officials fear, could lead to deadly diseases such as typhoid, dysentery, hepatitis and cholera - especially among children," CNN writes. According to Tammy Hasselfeldt, the International Rescue Committee's country director, "The most urgent priority is to ensure that safe water as well as medicines are available, food supplies are restored and transportation networks fixed to accelerate the delivery of desperately needed aid" (8/17). 

DAWN.COM reports that the provincial Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Department requested that the WHO start giving medicines intended for internally displaced persons to flood-affected populations. "Despite passage of 20 days of the floods there has been no funding for medical supplies to the population in the eight flood-affected districts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Upon our request, the WHO is supplying drugs from its warehouses in Mardan and Peshawar to flood-hit areas," health department officials said. Additional requests for medical supplies have been submitted (Yusufzai, 8/17).

Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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