Wednesday, August 11, 2010

High Cost of Failure to Aid Pakistan Flood Victims

“The international community, to which Pakistan belongs, is losing the war against the Taliban,” Pakistani President Asif Zardari told the French daily Le Monde a few days ago. “This is above all because we have lost the battle to win hearts and minds.”

Unfortunately, this mea culpa of sorts by Mr. Zardari has done little to change the grim reality on the ground. In fact, the situation has been further exacerbated by the absence of leadership by the ruling feudal elite such as Mr. Zardari during recent heavy flooding of large parts of Pakistan, including the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which is the center of the Taliban insurgency in Pakistan. This vacuum has been promptly filled by the rapid aid provided to the millions of unfortunate flood victims by the "terrorist" organizations which are being targeted by the "international community" in its "war on terror" of which Mr. Zardari claims to be a part.

Immediate effects:

In addition to the 1600 deaths reported so far, the current estimate is that about 14 million people are affected by the deadly deluge, which is now inundating southern Sind province of the country. The affected population is larger than in other humanitarian crises, including the 2004 Asian tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir quake, the Swat refugee crisis of 2009 and the Haiti quake of 2010.

Almost one in 10 of Pakistan's population has been affected by the floods and at least 6 million are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. "The flood waters have devastated towns and village, downed power and communications lines, washed away bridges and roads and inflicted major damage to buildings and houses," UN humanitarian chief John Holmes told the media.

"While the death toll may be much lower than in some major disasters... it is clear that this disaster is one of the most challenging that any country has faced in recent years," he added.

Long Term Damage:

There has been a devastating impact to the already poor infrastructure in many parts of Pakistan. "The floodwaters have devastated towns and village, downed power and communications lines, washed away bridges and roads and inflicted major damage to buildings and houses," according to UN's John Holmes.

Already suffering from slow economy, high unemployment and rising food prices even before the floods hit them, tens of millions of Pakistanis living on the edge will have to deal with further loss of homes and livelihoods in the disaster. Some of the worst hit areas have already seen all crops wiped out and many livestock lost, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). About 700 000 hectares of crops are under water or destroyed, with many surviving animals without feed. The combination of Russian fires and Pakistani floods has already driven international wheat prices to a two-year high, according to the Wall Street Journal. At about $7 a bushel, the wheat prices are still about half of what they were back in 2007-2008.

Zardari's assessment of the loss of hearts and minds is correct, but his actions are wrong. His absence from the country during the ongoing disaster in Pakistan has sent the worst possible message to the affected people that says that he doesn't really care. Compounding the situation is the extremely slow response of the international community to the unfolding natural disaster that is being called the worst to hit Pakistan in about half a century.

Call For Action:

All is not lost, however. There is still time, though not a lot of time, to make amends by Pakistani government and the international community. They can begin by committing and providing the needed funds, sending in the necessary relief supplies and by deploying a larger fleet of Pakistani and American helicopters with aid workers to reach the trapped people. After ensuring clean execution of short term rescue and relief operations, they must follow up with serious long-term reconstruction efforts to restore and rebuild the lives of millions of affected people. This reconstruction effort would require tens of billions of dollars in the next few years, far more than the immediate half a billion dollar aid requested by the UN.

Although Pakistan contributes least to global warming—one 35th of the world’s average of carbon dioxide emissions—temperatures in the country’s coastal areas have risen since the early 1900s from 0.6 to 1 degree centigrade. Precipitation has decreased 10 to 15 per cent in the coastal belt and hyper arid plains over the last 40 years while there is an increase in summer and winter rains in northern Pakistan.

I expect more disasters of the scale of Pakistan's current monsoon flooding to strike different parts of the world as the climate change continues to take its toll. I believe the international community, particularly the OECD nations, have a special responsibility as most of this global warming is the result of massive carbon emissions from the use of fossil fuels by the industrialized nations in their quest to improve their standards of living over the last century.

What is needed now is a special climate change fund accessible by nations and peoples who will inevitably be the victims of the impact of quickening climate change in the next several decades.

In the meanwhile, people of goodwill around the world should do what they can by contributing funds through established charities, or by volunteering to alleviate the extraordinary suffering of over 14 million Pakistanis ravaged by the great deluge of this century.

Here's a video clip about the impact of climate change on hunger and poverty in India:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Climate Change Worsens Poverty in India

Climate Change to Affect Karachi Coasline

American Policies Alienating Pakistanis

80/20 Strategy and Marshall Plan for Pakistan

We Hang Petty Thieves and Elect Great Ones to High Offices

Why is America Losing the War in Afghanistan?

Ode to the Feudal Clown Prince of Pakistan


Anonymous said...

Pavan said...

Thanks Riaz. I entirely agree with your view. Half a billion dollars
requested for by the UN is peanuts considering the extent of damage.
That is what India and Pakistan spend in maintaining their Siachen
garrisons every year. And what about SAARC? Is it not in the charter
to help member countries? I think we might as well wind up this so
called association of nations. I am quite surprised that India has not
offered humanitarian aid considering we are the big next door
neighbour. I can understand Pakistan will have sensitivities regarding
manpower or even helicopters but food, medicines, water, tents could
be provided. The media here is obsessed with the Commonwealth Games.
Even Kashmir and the Leh floods are off the front pages. Sad. Pavan

Riaz Haq said...


Thx for your comments.

Some NRIs are working with overseas Pakistanis to raise funds for the flood victims as part of Aman KI Asha:

As massive floods rage across Pakistan, affecting over 14 million people and leaving over 1,600 dead so far, Pakistanis and Indians living abroad are coming together to contribute to various relief agencies working to help those affected by the worst natural disaster in Pakistan's history. According to the UN, the scale of devastation caused by these floods has eclipsed that caused by the 2004 tsunami and the 2005 Kashmir earthquake.

Government and private relief agencies are managing to provide "only five percent of what's required," according to Mujahid Khan, provincial spokesman for the Edhi Foundation, which runs Pakistan's largest non-governmental organisation for humanitarian aid and rescue services.

The Fraser Valley Peace Council in Vancouver, Canada, has collected around $ 7000 so far in contributions from Americans of South Asian origin, including Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims. The local Chinese and Caucasian communities have also contributed to this collection. The Peace Council has been active in Vancouver for the last three years, earning respect for several peace-related joint activities involving Canadians of Indian and Pakistani origin.

"We have set an internal target of 10,000 dollars by 14th August," says Shahzad Nazir Khan, a FVPC volunteer. "Besides our Pakistani community, this amount made possible only because of the generous contributions by the people of different communities, especially from our Indian brothers and sisters."

The Peace Council plans to send the money to the Edhi Foundation for its work in flood-devastated areas.

Riaz Haq said...

In addition to sympathetic words from concerned Indians like Pava, I have also received a number of comments from some seriously bigoted Indians. Many are laced with obscenities and abuse and I have therefore not published them.

Here is my message to the Indians here who talk derisively about aid to Pakistan flood victims: You must not forget that India is the biggest recipient of foreign aid in the world...receiving billions of dollars each year from OECD nations and multi-lateral institutions.

The biggest direct aid donor countries to India are Japan and UK, as well as multiple international humanitarian aid programs supported through NGOs, in addition to the World Bank, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNDP, WFP, and a whole alphabet soup of organizations active in helping the teeming population of the poor, the illiterates, the hungry and and the destitute in India.

After the increase of British aid to $500 million (300 million pounds) a year, India will still remain the biggest recipient of Japan's official development assistance (ODA) in the near future. Since Japan's first ODA to India in 1958, the country has received monetary aid worth Rs 89,500 crore (Rs 895 billion) so far, according to Noro Motoyoshi, Japanese consul general in Kolkata. In 2008, Japan's ODA to India was up by more than 18% compared to 2007 at Rs 6916 crore (Rs 69.16 billion).

The World Bank said recently it will lend India $14 billion in soft loans by 2012 to help the country overhaul its creaking infrastructure and increase living standards in its poor states, according to Financial Express.

At the recent G20 meeting, India has asked the World Bank to raise the amount of money India can borrow as soft loans, generally considered aid, from the bank for its infrastructure projects, according to Times of India. At present, India can borrow up to $15.5 billion in soft loans as per the SBL (single borrower limit)in soft loans fixed by the Bank.

The Indian government has estimated it needs $500 billion over the five years to 2012 to upgrade infrastructure such as roads, ports, power and railways.

Zen, Munich, Germany said...


As a humanitarian gesture, I have decided to donate my share through Unicef.

As for Indian's getting aid - you seem to confuse or are trying to confuse others by mixing loans with aid. Also India supports six times more population than Pakistan. Even without floods, Pakistani FM is seen in London/Washington often with a grin and some big words about democracy or war on terror when a check is handed over to him. This is not a loan, but "aid" with little guarantee or promise of ever paying back.
There comes a question or two whether a flood victim who receive aid from an Indian or Westerner would see Indians or Westerners with a kinder eye after that? The answer is likely NO and they may be more prone to believe in conspiracy theories that are fed by Islamist hate mongers.
If this flood, wildfire etc. is a result of global warming, then industrialized countries have a moral obligation to help. I would say, UN must set up a rescue fund ala funds to save banks, with richer countries contributing heavily to help poorer countries which suffer natural catastrophes as a result of climate change. This fund should work like an endowment.

Riaz Haq said...


Thank you for your humanitarian gesture in donating for the flood victims.

On foreign aid, I think you are yourself confused. Most foreign aid is in the form of soft loans, not grants. It's true for all recipients, including India and Pakistan.

On aid, it's not a question of whether aid recipients see US or other donors with "kinder eyes. It's much more important to neutralize the Taliban and their cohorts who are likely to be seen with "kinder eyes" because of their rapid response in delivering emergency assistance after the failure of Pakistan and its international friends.

On your suggestion of setting up an international climate change fund, I think it makes sense.

aamsvad said...

Rather then sending "condolences" , as India’s FM , Mr Krishna did, India send some relief material. The fact that Pak has not used the 2005 relief money yet or they removed the “made in India” stickers from the relief meant for Kashmiri victims , should not act as a impediment from sending relief now.

India need Pak’s help, as any two neighbor's would need each other. Ex:-Recently India asked Pak-army’s help in finding our missing Jawans in Leh flash flood. I hope India will not act silly by missing this golden opportunity to "get down to business" of being true neighbors.

aamsvad said...

Personally I helped via UNICEF. But India’s response disappoints me.
Rather then sending "condolences" , as India’s FM , Mr Krishna did, India send some relief material. The fact that Pak has not used the 2005 relief money yet or they removed the “made in India” stickers from the relief meant for Kashmiri victims , should not act as a impediment from sending relief now.\08\13\story_13-8-2010_pg7_24

India need Pak’s help, as any two neighbor's would need each other. Ex:-Recently India asked Pak-army’s help in finding our missing Jawans in Leh flash flood. I hope India will not act silly by missing this golden opportunity of getting down to the "business of being true neighbors".

the greater issue is the environmental degradation in Indian subcontinent, the rape of Himalayan Jungles, unchecked buildings on river beds and occupying river catchment areas etc , These are the epidemics that needs to be addressed jointly by SAARC countries.
Remember we had harsh floods in Bihar -2008, once in a millennium floods in AP-2009 and now this epic floods in Pakistan. Its becoming an annual phenomena!
Droughts and Deluges are going to hit the Indian Subcontinent pretty hard.

Haseeb said...

On line comments by Americans in US and Western media has one common theme: Why give money to Pakistan when it is going to be siphoned off.

It is so devastating, so depressing, so frustrating.

Any body has any thoughts? What to do? Someone please show the way.

Riaz Haq said...

Haseeb: "on line comments by Americans in US and Western media has one common theme: Why give money to Pakistan when it is going to be siphoned off".

If you look carefully at the posters of such negative comments about any story having anything to do with Pakistan, you will find that the vast majority of them are right-wing Indian bigots who infest cyberspace and constantly hunt for opportunities to bash Pakistan regardless of the nature of news stories.

They are doing what they do in normal times: pushing their reprehensible and bigoted agenda without regard for the magnitude the the humanitarian crisis facing their neighbor.

Many of such bigoted Indian posters can hardly disguise their outright glee at the specter of a massive natural disaster which could affect any nation in the region given the potentially devastating effects of climate change.

Pavan said...

Good to know that NRIs are doing something. They need to do a lot more
for their own country too! During the tsunami India donated an amount
of $ 50 million to Sri Lanka besides several shiploads of aid. This
would have been an opportunity to reach out to the people of Pakistan.

Anonymous said...

Something Stinks About Wikileaks Release of "Secret" Documents
by F. William Engdahl*

Coinciding with Voltaire Network’s interpretation of the Wikileaks uproar, F. William Engdhal also detects the signs of a gross diversion maneuver. Conspicuously, no mention is made of the juicy Afghan drug business while retired Pakistani General Hamid Gul is conveniently framed for the breakdown of U.S. policies in Afghanistan. After Osama bin Laden, this is the second time that the mightiest world power would be ridiculing itself if indeed it had been outwitted at the hands of a sigle man. Remarkably, one of the few who still believes in the official tale of OBL happens to be leakmaster Julian Assange himself.

Anonymous said...

Mayraj said...

"The military is perfectly happy to let the civilian government screw up," one U.S. official said. "The military does not want to take over because they get blamed for all the deficiencies in government."

The potential for serious turmoil, these U.S. officials said, will grow after the floods subside. Then the government must grapple with the task of rebuilding roads, bridges and other infrastructure and caring for millions of impoverished, mostly rural people who've lost their homes, crops and livestock.

"The Pakistani military quickly mobilized to support relief efforts in areas affected by the floods, and . . . seems to be handling things effectively," a second U.S. official said. "The popular ire so far seems directed at the (government). As with any natural disaster, the reconstruction phase can be a challenge, and that's when Pakistan's civilian agencies will need to step up to the plate. That'll be the real test."

Read more:

Mayraj said...

UN chief: Pakistan floods worst he has ever seen
Swamped, bruised and resentful

Frozen jet stream links Pakistan floods, Russian fires
How the heatwave in Russia is connected to floods in Pakistan
Will the Pakistan floods strike again?

By the way, check this out:

Terrifying monsoon floods add to a sea of other woes in Pakistan—and intensify pressure on the president
See also:
Violence in Indian Kashmir

A cyclical problem
The bloody protests in Indian Kashmir get much bloodier

Anonymous said...


You make good points.

The issues and concerns should be shared by the Government of India, as a concerned and humanitarian nation.

This is a time for suspending the usual political rhetoric on both sides. Mr. Quereshi should keep his ego aside and accept Mr. Krishna's offer.

And Mr. Singh should realize there is no gain in creating a further rift in relations.

I also have a feeling that the Pak beauracracy/decision makers at the highest level have a heart of stone, on how to help flood victims, after all these are the poor people, not the elite.

Indians must be taking a look at how their govt would react in such a flood crisis.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's how Pakistani middle class is helping the flood victims in Pakistan, according to Christian Science Monitor:

Ain-ul-Ghazala, a local Pakistani doctor, says what motivated her to take matters into her own hands came down to what she saw on television. Images of immense misery and destruction brought about by the worst floods in Pakistan in recent memory unfolded before her eyes, and she says she couldn't sit still.

She had noticed hundreds of tents setup on the streets of her hometown, where various groups sought funds and materials. But despite hearing repeated calls for more aid, tales of corruption deterred her from donating to the government or aid organizations, and she didn’t want to give her money to Islamist groups like Jamat-ud-Dawa.

“No one trusts the government anymore, so I wanted to see the situation for myself and do what I could to help,” she explains. As the effects of the disaster wound into a third week, the gynecologist, who works at a private hospital owned by her husband, decided to set off to the flood-afflicted southern Punjab region along with her three adult daughters and one of their friends, also a female medical doctor.

Over the course of two days, they distributed, tents and food, while the two doctors checked in on some 200 patients in Kot Addu, near Muzaffargarh. “There were a lot of people suffering," she says. On top of the health problems, "some didn’t have anything to wear - they were without any clothes,” she says. “We gave iron and calcium supplements to the pregnant women, and ended up seeing a few male patients, too.”
According to Rasul Baksh Raees, head of social sciences at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, the reach and influence of civil society has grown as Pakistan’s middle classes have become more affluent, organized (thanks in no small part to the Internet age), and confident.

In recent years, Pakistan’s civil society has made headlines for its activism. Indeed, students and middle-class professionals joined lawyers in a movement to restore the country’s popular Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who was removed from office twice in recent years by former military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Ms. Ali says she used Facebook to solicit contributions from relatives, friends, and friends of friends both at home and abroad. She raised some $2,300, transmitted either to her mother’s bank account or via Western Union transfers, to spend on "family packs" (food items, flour, cooking oils, sugar, lentils, and candles) for the victims of the flooding in Swat. Mr. Khurram and half-a-dozen friends, meanwhile, organized a couple of truckloads of meals and traveled to Swat to hand over supplies to the Army for distribution.

The group was stranded for three days by landslides but then traveled to the village of Solgarah in Pakistan’s northwest to setup a Tandoor kitchen that would feed 50 families for 10 days.

“Naturally we don’t have enough donations for everyone,” says Khurram. “So we tried to make sure the same families aren’t getting the same stuff again and again.”
The open-source platform was originally created in Kenya and called Ushahidi, Swahili for "testimony." It maps user reports of events sent via text message, e-mail, the Web and Twitter. Explains Mr. Chohan: “We believe the mobile [phone] is the best way to communicate with people in normal conditions as well as disasters. This was tried and tested in Kenya and Haiti. Why not put all this first line of reporting on mobiles in Pakistan?” With more than 90 million mobile phone users, he says, it has the potential to become the largest deployment of Ushahidi anywhere in the world.

Riaz Haq said...

As the world recognizes the enormity of the flood disaster in Pakistan, the donors are beginning to increase pledges.

Here's today's BBC report:

Donors have pledged more money for flood-stricken Pakistan following appeals at an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said he had been assured that the UN's target of $460m (£295m) goal would be "easily met".

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the emergency session that the floods were like "a slow-motion tsunami".

The monsoon-triggered floods have affected about one-fifth of Pakistan.

An estimated 20 million people are affected and experts say shelter, food and clean water are urgently needed to avert a humanitarian catastrophe.

Before the meeting at the UN headquarters in New York, Mr Ban said not even half of the $460m target needed for initial relief had been raised, and the response remained slow.

The US - already the biggest donor - announced it would contribute another $60m, bringing its total to more than $150m.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said about $92m would go to the UN's appeal.

The EU has also increased its pledge to more than $180m and the UK is nearly doubling its contribution to almost $100m.

Germany has raised its aid to $32m and Mr Qureshi said Saudi Arabia was pledging more than $100m.

China is expected to announce its donation during the second session of the UN meeting on Friday.

"If you put this all together, it's substantial," said Mr Qureshi.

Addressing the UN earlier, Mr Qureshi warned that unless his country received adequate assistance, hard-won gains in the government's war against insurgents could be undermined.

Pakistan is a key ally in the US-led war against militants in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Islamabad has assured Washington and its allies that troops fighting the insurgency in the north-west of the country have not been redeployed to the relief efforts.

But correspondents say suffering and social chaos caused by the floods could play into the militants' hands.

At least 1,500 people have died in the floods, which began in the north and have swept south towards the sea, destroying roads and bridges, flooding farmland and knocking out power stations.

Tens of thousands of villages remain underwater.

Aid agencies say there are signs that the crisis is growing worse, as new flood waters continue to surge south along the Indus river and more flood defences collapse, forcing people to flee their homes.

Riaz Haq said...

It is clear that Pakistan has the most incompetent and corrupt political leadership at the helm right now.

However, the response from the Pakistani military and the people has been very good. Over 60,000 soldiers well equipped with transport planes, helicopters, hovercrafts, boats, trucks, etc have been running rescue and relief operations 24X7 for days now.

A whole range of Pakistani non-profits and urban middle class individuals have been working hard to try and alleviate the suffering of their fellow citizens.

We must acknowledge that this flooding is like no other in recent's part of the accelerating climate change phenomenon that will require a robust world response to tackle it.

Instead of treating as just another flooding disaster and start bickering, we must push the following actions:

1. Boost rescue and relief efforts with international help to meet the current challenge in Pakistan.

2. Start planning and funding the second and third phases of reconstruction and rehabilitation in Pakistan.

3. Set up an international body with adequate funding under UN to prepare to address this and similar or more deadly deluges and droughts that are likely to afflict many more people around the world....crop failures, famines, etc.

4. Get serious about new technologies to limit carbon emissions in both developing and developed nations, starting with the biggest carbon emitters in North America, Europe, China and India.

The cost of failure to aid Pakistan and prepare for similar other coming disasters will be so high that the world can not afford it.

Riaz Haq said...

A wealthy Pakistani real estate developer has pledged to help the flood victims in Pakistan in a massive way. Here's a report by UAE paper the National:

ISLAMABAD // Malik Riaz Hussain, a billionaire Pakistani developer, has responded to the misery of millions of his flood-stricken compatriots by pledging to spend 75 per cent of his fortune on rebuilding their lives.

The extraordinary offer was made in a television interview in which he told how he had sent a letter before the floods to 100 of Pakistan’s most wealthy and powerful people asking them to pool money into a fund to repair homes, provide vocational training and extend microfinance loans to impoverished Pakistanis.

Mr Hussain is the chairman of Bahria Town, a US$6 billion (Dh22bn) urban development enterprise that has built gated communities for a million people in the central cities of Lahore and Rawalpindi.

Bahria Town has already responded to the current floods by vastly expanding a corporate social responsibility programme called dastarkhwan, or dining spread, to provide two meals a day to more than 150,000 flood refugees in inundated areas and free medical care at mobile hospitals.

Its housing projects, unrivalled in Pakistan as models of highly desirable but affordable suburban living, have revolutionised Pakistan’s real-estate sector over the last decade by targeting the previously untapped middle class, rather than the rich.

The huge popularity of the Bahria Town brand has made Mr Hussain, at the age of 62, one of a handful of Pakistanis believed to be billionaires in US dollar terms, although this cannot be verified as he has never released his tax records.

A man of unremarkable origins, Mr Hussain espouses traditional family values, and has expressed them in the modern family-friendly suburbs he has built.

Reproductions of famous landmarks, such as London’s Trafalgar Square, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty, point to his aspirations for Pakistan, while beautiful mosques and Quranic calligraphy suggest that modernity is in harmony with Muslim beliefs.

gunam said...

Pakistan considers india as an enemy state and does not want assistance. India must just keep quiet and leave pakistan to its own destiny as it want to right.

India can usefully deploy the money for the benefit of india and not on a country which it considers as enemy at this point of time also

Pavan said...

Interesting though a bit academic. There was a news item yesterday that India has upped its aid from 5 to 25 million dollars. What would really help would be to open rail and a few road routes from air bases close to the border like Thoise in the Shyok Valley which can take heavy transport aircraft, Jammu to Sialkot, Amritsar which is an international airport and Jodhpur. Both Amritsar and Jodhpur have rail links into Pakistan. Chaklala air base is completely congested since all the international aircraft are landing there. Train loads of water, food and medicines can reach Punjab and Sind on a daily basis. This is the kind of effort required. A lot of the international and UN aid could be channeled through India. Just to give you an idea of the logistics, if 5 million people have to get one bottle of water a day, the daily tonnage is 5000 tons of water alone or 100 sorties of heavy transport aircraft. And this will be required for quite some time till water supply can be restored. Pavan

Riaz Haq said...

Pavan: "What would really help would be to open rail and a few road routes from air bases close to the border like Thoise in the Shyok Valley which can take heavy transport aircraft, Jammu to Sialkot, Amritsar which is an international airport and Jodhpur."

While I agree that your suggestion makes a lot sense, the deep distrust that exists between the two neighbors makes it highly unlikely.

These are kinds of times when the value of cooperation and trust between India and Pakistan is highlighted.

Pavan said...

True. And we will continue with the idiocy of spending over million dollars a day to keep a few brigades on the Siachen heights. Pavan

Riaz Haq said...

There have been widespread allegations that Pakistani feudals, including many powerful politicians, deliberately flooded the poor peasants villages to protect their own crops and farms in recent monsoon rains. Here's a BBC report that says Pakistan's US ambassador is calling for an investigation.

A senior Pakistani diplomat has called for an inquiry into allegations that rich landowners diverted water into unprotected villages during the floods to save their own crops.

UN ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon said there was evidence that landowners had allowed embankments to burst.

This led to waters flowing away from their land, he said.

More than 1,600 people have died in the floods, which have affected about 17 million people.

"Over the years, one has seen with the lack of floods, those areas normally set aside for floods have come under irrigation of the powerful and rich," Mr Haroon told the BBC's HardTalk programme.

"It is suggested in some areas, those to be protected were allowed, had allowed, levies to be burst on opposite sides to take the water away. If that is happening the government should be enquiring."

At the height of the floods, it is estimated that one-fifth of the country - an area the size of Italy - was underwater.

The flood waters are beginning to drain away to the Arabian Sea but inundations continue in parts of Sindh province.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times reporting military demanding government shakeup in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Pakistani military, angered by the inept handling of the country’s devastating floods and alarmed by a collapse of the economy, is pushing for a shake-up of the elected government, and in the longer term, even the removal of President Asif Ali Zardari and his top lieutenants.

The military, preoccupied by a war against militants and reluctant to assume direct responsibility for the economic crisis, has made clear it is not eager to take over the government, as it has many times before in Pakistan, military officials and politicians said.

But the government’s performance since the floods, which have left 20 million people homeless and the nation dependent on handouts from skeptical foreign donors, has laid bare the deep underlying tensions between the military and the civilian leadership.

American officials acknowledge that it has also left them increasingly disillusioned with Mr. Zardari, a now deeply unpopular president who was elected two-and-half years ago on a wave of sympathy after the assassination of his wife, Benazir Bhutto.

In a series of meetings with the civilian leaders, the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, scolded the president and his prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, for incompetence and corruption in the government, according to officials familiar with the conversations.

The general also demanded that they dismiss at least some ministers in the oversized 60-member cabinet, many of whom face corruption charges from past cases.

The civilian government has so far resisted those demands, and Mr. Zardari told the general that, come what may, he will not be maneuvered aside, according to a Pakistani official close to the president who was familiar with the conversations but did not want to be identified.

After a meeting between Mr. Zardari, Mr. Gilani and General Kayani on Monday, the president’s office issued a statement saying they had agreed “to protect the democratic process and to resolve all issues in accordance with the constitution.”

“Sanity had prevailed,” the Pakistani official said, meaning that General Kayani chose not to precipitate a crisis.

Still, it is clear that General Kayani, head of the country’s most powerful and respected institution, has ratcheted up the pressure on the government in the past several weeks.

Having secured an exceptional three-year extension in his post from Mr. Zardari in July, General Kayani appears determined to see to it that the government prevents the economy from entering a tailspin, which would further weaken the health of the nation and also the value of the military’s own vast landholdings and other business enterprises.

Military officers in the main cities have been talking openly and expansively about their contempt for the Zardari government and what they term the economic calamity, an unusual candor, reporters and politicians said.

“The gross economic mismanagement by the government is at the heart of it,” said Rifaat Hussain, a professor of international relations at Islamabad University and a confidant of the military. “And there is the rising public disaffection with the Pakistani Peoples Party under Zardari and Gilani.”

As the military demands the overhaul, the Supreme Court is also pushing the government on the issue of corruption by threatening to remove the president’s immunity from prosecution, a move that would expose him to charges of corruption in an old money-laundering case in Switzerland.

Riaz Haq said...

The floods that swept across Pakistan since July caused an estimated $9.7 billion in damage to infrastructure, farms, homes, as well as other direct and indirect losses, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank said today.

The estimate was presented in the Damage and Needs Assessment (DNA), a survey conducted nationwide by ADB and the World Bank to assess the extent of the flood damage. The concluded survey was earlier submitted to the Government of Pakistan and today made public at the Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP) meeting in Brussels, Belgium.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from Bloomberg-Businessweek on Pakistani companies prospects after floods:

Toyota Motor Corp. and Unilever affiliates in Pakistan said the worst floods in the nation’s history may sap growth and force production cuts as consumers struggle to cope with the destruction of crops and houses.

“The economy is fragile,” Parvez Ghias, chief executive officer of Toyota-backed Indus Motor Co., Pakistan’s largest automaker by market value, said by phone yesterday from Karachi. “The prices of food and essentials have gone up significantly.”

“The overall impact of the floods is going to be very serious for the economy,” said Nasim Beg, who helps manage $200 million at Karachi-based Arif Habib Investments Ltd. “In the long term, something like cement might look alright, but in the immediate term, I think everything will be under stress.”

“The damage is going to be significant,” said Muhammad Adil Ghani, plant operations head at Lahore-based Nishat Mills. “We have to reevaluate the forecast for the coming year.”

One of the group’s power plants, in Punjab province, northern Pakistan, was closed for at least five days because of floods, he said. The company’s four textile factories around Karachi, Faisalabad and Lahore haven’t been directly affected.

Nationwide car sales may fall as much as 25 percent this quarter because of the floods, said Indus Motor’s Ghias. The automaker, 38 percent owned by Toyota and an affiliate, may cut output in October because of the expected slowdown, he said. The company has enough orders to maintain its 200 cars-a-day production rate until then, he said.

Pakistan’s major cities and industrial areas, such as Karachi and Faisalabad, have escaped the flooding, which has limited damage at factories and may also curb the impact on earnings. Unilever’s local unit gets about 8 percent of revenue from the worst affected areas, CEO Malik said.

“So far there hasn’t been a major impact on sales,” he said. A reduction in costs may offset any decline in revenue, safeguarding profit, he said.

Mark Mobius, who oversees about $34 billion in developing- nation assets as executive chairman of Templeton Asset Management Ltd.’s emerging markets group, is also buying Pakistani shares in anticipation of a rebound from the floods. Local stocks’ valuations are “very, very attractive,” he said earlier this week.

Unilever Pakistan has maintained production through steps including re-routing shipments of goods, Malik said. Nestle Pakistan Ltd., a unit of the world’s biggest food company, has continued operations at its factories, which are concentrated in Sheikhupura, Kabirwala and Islamabad.

The full impact of the disaster on foodmakers will become clearer over the next week or so as they work through inventories of goods such as fruit pulp, used to make juices, said Syed Fakhar Ahmed, a spokesman for Nestle Pakistan.

Engro Foods’ milk tankers have been unable to reach areas of Sindh and Punjab provinces because of the floods, CEO Rehman said. Retail milk prices may eventually rise by as much as 4 rupees (5 cents) a liter, he said. In the short term, the effect on food prices has been mitigated by Ramadan, a month of fasting for Muslims that began on Aug. 11, he said.

“After the people return and transportation resumes, the supply chain will recover but not completely,” Rehman said.

The country will need to import 1 million head of livestock within five months to replenish stocks, according to the nation’s Meat Merchants Welfare Association. Livestock accounted for 11 percent of gross domestic product in the year ended June 30, according to the government’s economic survey.

“Agriculture is a very significant part of the economy,” Indus Motors’ Ghias said. “If we’re going to see negative growth there, other sectors will be impacted.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here is the latest news from State Bank of Pakistan reported by The Nation newspaper:

KARACHI – In the backdrop of widespread losses caused by the unprecedented rains and devastating floods to the economy in the early months of current fiscal year, the State Bank of Pakistan has predicted that the real GDP growth would be in the range of 2 to 3 per cent in FY11 against the annual plan target of 4.5 per cent.
The SBP, in its Annual Report on the State of the Economy for the year 2009-10 released here on Monday, stated that the annual average inflation for FY11 is likely to remain between 13.5 to 14.5 per cent, up from both, the 9.5 per cent target and earlier SBP forecast of 11.0- 12.0 per cent for the year.
Moreover, the provisional SBP projections indicate that the current account deficit will likely to rise between 3-4 per cent while the fiscal deficit is anticipated to be in the vicinity of 5 to 6 per cent of GDP during FY11. In addition, it projected that workers’ remittances are likely to stay between $9.5 billion to $10.5 billion whereas exports and imports are likely to be between $20 billion to $21 billion and $34 billion to $35 billion, respectively in the entire course of ongoing fiscal year.
The Report pointed out that financing even the moderate increase in the current account deficit may prove stressful for the economy, with rising pressures on the country’s foreign exchange reserves and exchange rate.
The Report said, “Negative shocks stemming from the floods have further exposed the existing structural weaknesses in the economy. Addressing these will require improvements in macroeconomic discipline as well as continued reforms to improve the resilience of the economy. The required reforms include those to improve productivity, strengthen public institutions, improve economic governance, and build social safety nets to protect vulnerable segments of the population.”
The Report while referring an independent study, warned that the occurrence of poverty, which started to decline over the last decade, is expected to increase in the wake of the floods in the time to come.
According to the Report, the direct impact of the flood-related supply shock is likely to be limited. For example, the impact of flood/rain damages and shortages of minor crops are not expected to persist beyond 2 to 3 months as supply line improves and as fresh crops (e.g., vegetables) enter the market. Similarly, for some other products, any rise in domestic prices would be capped by low international prices.
It is important to note here that prices of dairy products were already continuing on a secular rise, even prior to the floods, due to sustained strong domestic and external demand. Livestock losses in the flood would exacerbate this rising trend, but only to a small extent.
It said that the extended persistence of double-digit inflation had already been a source of concern even ahead of the floods, particularly given the risk that an upward trend in food-commodity prices (e.g. wheat, edible oil, sugar, corn, etc.) could be compounded by any weakness in the exchange rate. Moreover, inflationary pressures were also expected to strengthen as a result of the recent 50 percent increase in government sector salaries, and anticipated rise in energy tariffs (as the government continued to reduce subsidies) and removal of GST exemptions to broaden the tax base.

Mayraj said...
Seven Million Without Shelter Months After Pakistan Floods

Pavan said...

After the initial coverage, everything is quiet. Zero coverage here. Indian airfields and railway stations could have used as major hubs to channel aid into Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

@ Pavan and Mayraj:

We all know the world media, and donors, have a very short attention spans, and Pakistani politicians do no care at all for their people.
How unfortunate for the poor flood-hit Pakistanis who are terribly suffering.

Mayraj said...

Pakistan's Mother Teresa?

A tiny, frail lady - her silver grey hair tucked under a white head scarf with a red floral trim - stands defiantly at a relief camp she set up for minority people displaced by Pakistan's recent deadly flooding.

Eighty-one-year-old German nun Ruth Pfau is surveying the needs of hundreds whose homes were washed away.

Two months since they sought shelter in Hyderabad, on disused land by the side of a busy road, she and her team have provided them with tents, food, water, medicine and a school.

"We need blankets," many of them shout at once. Then they complain the dry rations they received did not include sugar, milk, salt or chilli.

For a split second Dr Pfau is taken aback and winces, before noting down their concerns.

Her arrival has been a Godsend for them, the forgotten of the floods.
Immense stamina

"We only go into these camps where, for some reason or other, nobody else is willing or able, or ever thought of helping them," Dr Pfau explained.

She is one of the very few helping the flood-affected Hindu minority.

Dr Pfau's service to Pakistan's most neglected began more than 50 years ago.

She took on the country's leprosy problem, rescuing children holed up in caves and cattle pens for years as their disfiguring and suffering worsened, abandoned by distraught parents terrified they were contagious.

She trained Pakistani doctors and attracted foreign donations, building leprosy clinics across the country.

"Working with Dr Pfau is very, very difficult, because she has such immense stamina, that I don't think anyone can match," said Mervyn Lobo, the organisation's national co-ordinator, who has travelled with her for more than 11 years.

Born in the German city of Leipzig in 1929, Ruth Pfau grew up fearing for her life as first Allied forces bombed her town during the Second World War, then Russian forces ran amok.

She saw her younger brother die, was forced to steal wood and coal for heating food and risked her own life escaping East Germany.

"If I give any sense to these years, it is a preparation to be ready to help others," she explained.

After completing a medical degree and joining a French Roman Catholic Order, she decided to leave for India.

But diverted to Pakistan while waiting for her visa in 1958, she was to stumble upon leprosy, a disease she had never heard of in a country she did not know existed.

"Well if it doesn't hit you the first time, I don't think it will ever hit you," she recalled, after first seeing leprosy during a visit to a makeshift dispensary built on a disused graveyard in Karachi.

"Actually the first patient who really made me decide was a young Pathan.

"He must have been my age, I was at this time not yet 30, and he crawled on hands and feet into this dispensary, acting as if this was quite normal, as if someone has to crawl there through that slime and dirt on hands and feet, like a dog."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a piece by Lawrence MacDonald of Center for Global Development on flood recovery in Pakistan:

..Molly (Kinder) adds that aid money could make a real difference in how well and how quickly Pakistan is able to recover from the floods. As Molly, Nancy (Birdsall) and Wren have written, redirecting unspent aid money towards flood reconstruction could bolster Pakistan’s economy at a critical moment and lay the foundation for poverty-reducing growth when and if the necessary domestic policy reforms are enacted. We discuss ways to make that aid transparent and to ensure that it isn’t diverted for other purposes.

As Molly and I spoke, top officials from the Pakistani government were in in town for the third set of so-called Strategic Dialogue meetings with their American counterparts. We at the Center got just a taste of those meetings when we hosted Pakistani Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh for a private breakfast with members of Washington’s Pakistan policy community and U.S. government representatives. Shaikh’s talk and his savvy about both economic policies and politics impressed all those who attended, but Molly warns that while Pakistan has a full team of skilled economists in the top ranks of government, knowing what needs to be done and managing to overcome the substantial obstacles to reform are two separate issues. Molly adds: the finance minister “rightly identified the challenge, which is how can you create the political momentum within Pakistan to enable these very difficult reforms to happen?”

Riaz Haq said...

Much of Haiti still looks like the earthquake struck yesterday, according to the Daily Mail. Here's what happened with all of the aid and NGOs:

Many of them quickly ran into trouble - and then went to the UN for help. Often those without experience found the environment too tough to manage, so they became 'part of the caseload' and had to be shipped home. Harassed UN officials were forced to direct their energies towards rescuing those who were supposed to be helping.
This was an extreme example of a wider problem identified by Linda Polman, the author of The Crisis Caravan: What's Wrong With Humanitarian Aid.
She describes a new phenomenon flourishing in the market free-for-all of the aid sector which she calls MONGOs, or My Own NGOs. She cites cases of doctors who arrive on their own in countries such as Sierra Leone, inspired by the scenes of suffering they have watched on television, only to pull out when they run out of money.
Patients are abandoned with no aftercare, sometimes with infected post-operative wounds.
In the aftermath of the Asian tsunami in 2004, the UN tried to develop what is known as its 'cluster system' to co-ordinate the efforts of individual agencies. It has certainly resulted in some significant improvements, but in Haiti the system has been creaking at the seams.

Imogen Wall says coordination there often comes down to 'hundreds of organisations, not all of whom speak English, meeting in a shack with a tin roof down by the airport . . . and then it starts raining', so no one can hear anything anyway.

She says that at one stage the 'health cluster' included no fewer than 600 different NGOs. And the UN has no power at all to compel aid agencies to join the cluster system. In theory, NGOs have to register with the Haitian government, but in practice that does not always happen - not least because the government has itself been in such a mess since the earthquake.

The result is a very patchy provision of assistance. The good camps work well. Actor Sean Penn, who has earned widespread admiration for his dedication to Haiti's cause, has established a well-run camp in the old Portau-Prince golf club; it has good security, professional camp manage-ment and an efficient water and sanitation system provided by Oxfam. But it is known as 'the VIP camp' because it is so atypical of the way most earthquake victims live.
On the outskirts of the desperately poor Cite Soleil district of Port-au-Prince I visited an informal camp that is home to 300 families. They receive a weekly delivery of water from a Norwegian NGO and they have access to just three latrines between them.
That is pretty much it. There is no real security, and in camps like this rape and violent crime are a constant threat. I asked a group of women at the camp water tank what they thought of the foreign aid agencies. 'We have no opinion,' said one woman, 'because we haven't had any aid.'

The Haiti experience has been an object lesson in the limits to what aid can achieve.

aamsvad said...

has the Flood relief reached the needy?
I hope our charity does not go in vain.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan's agriculture sector remained robust in spite of heavy flooding last year, according to Dawn:

ENCOURAGING news from export front, mainly about wheat, dominated trading on the Karachi wholesale markets last week where prices showed tendency to rise as some exporters covered their forward sales to meet their shipment deadlines.

A major breakthrough on the wheat front was widely welcomed by commercial traders and exporters who hoped the exportable surplus would add to foreign exchange earnings, market sources said.

But leaders of flour mills association opposed the official move fearing rise in flour prices in coming weeks. But the government was seized with the problem of disposing of the surplus of over a million tons well before the arrival of new crop, they said.

“It is a good beginning on wheat export front,” said a commercial exporter. He said the “profit-margin is not attractive but new export outlets are being explored to dispose of future surplus.”

With a loaded consignment of 27,000 tons of wheat for some African destination, a loader has already left, while another Bangladesh ship is on the port loading a consignment of 20,000 tons for Chittagong, exporters said.

But the news from sugar front was not encouraging as price tussle between growers and mill owners continued after the later reduced the cane procurement price from Rs230 per maund to Rs210 without any reason. The growers in some areas had stopped supply of sugarcane to mills.

However, sugar prices in retail and wholesale markets rose further high despite mills’ claim that supplies of new crop to commercial dealers are being made
regularly and prices should remain stable around previous levels.

Much of the physical activity, meanwhile, remained confined to some essential counters where floor brokers reported pressure on supplies.

Arrivals from upcountry markets remained steady, which, in turn, did not allow speculative increase in prices and most of the increases were orderly. Dealers said changes in prices were mostly orderly and did not reflect speculative rise on any counter amid two-way activity and higher ready off-take.

The industrial sector showed two-way active trading as some commodities showed rise under the lead of guar seeds and cotton-based items because of a record rise in cotton prices owing to a short crop, they said.

On essentials’ counters, including wheat and sugar, prices remained stable despite higher demands followed by reports of steady arrivals from upcountry market.

Sugar prices remained stable early but rose later, although dealers reported a fairly large business at the unchanged rates in an apparent effort to sell it later at higher rates, they said.

Rice exporters said the recent increase in global prices was expected to significantly add to export earnings of the private sector exporters. They said talks were going on with some importers and hopes of some deals were bright during the next couple of days.

On the other hand, cotton prices showed wild either way movements amid alternate bouts of buying and selling but late in the week a sharp decline in New York cotton futures pushed them lower around Rs9,000 per muand, which spinners said were still higher than their export parity level for textiles.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts from a piece by Christine Fair on "What Pakistan Did Right" in 2010 floods:

Arguably, the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) is one of the most important reasons why the floods claimed relatively fewer lives than may have been expected, given the scale of the event. In January, I met with the Director General Arif Mahmood and his team in Islamabad. They walked me through, in painstakingly scientific detail, how their organization saved lives in 2010, as they had done before and as they will continue to do in the future.
Some six months have passed since the onset of the floods. Surprisingly, many of the predicted disasters did not happen. Pakistan did not have the predicted second wave of deaths in the camps for the millions of internally displaced persons. Astonishingly, none of the predicted epidemics (such as cholera) took place. Pakistan has even managed to stave off the expected food insecurity.
Pakistan's National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), headed by Major General (Ret.) Nadeem Ahmed is part of the reason these catastrophes were prevented. The NDMA, along with the four Provincial Disaster Management Agencies, coordinated the massive effort to rescue flood victims, establish camps for internally displaced people, provide the victims with shelter, water and sanitation facilities, food and other logistical requirements. The NDMA coordinates with international donors and maintains a situation room where staff track calls and resolve problems. In a country that routinely sustains criticism for organizations that that underperform, NDMA excels.

Some of the worst fears about lost crops have not materialized. While many of Pakistan's fields have not been properly prepared for planting this year, NDMA working with its domestic and international partners was able to provide seeds to many cultivators. In many cases, they simply flung the seed into the land once the water receded. Many of these efforts are resulting in bumper crops. This was not expected in September of 2010. To be sure, this is only the beginning and much more needs to be done. But measures of this type helped stave off some of the gravest outcomes expected.
There are still challenges. Complaints persist about corruption with the pre-paid ATM cards (Watan cards) distributed to IDPs. In Sindh, serious charges of corruption persist regarding the purchase of tents, blankets, medicines and food for the flood-affected people. Reports continue that food supplies are languishing in depots while IDPs go without in Sindh. Indeed, the IDP camp I visited in near the office of the District Coordination Officer for Dadu, was saddening. The residents and the camp administrator claimed that there had been no food distributed in a month.
Nonetheless, half a year after the floods devastated the country and after most of the media has left the story behind, 20 million Pakistanis still need help -- and they need help now. While Pakistan must expand its own tax net to contribute to the long-term costs of rebuilding its infrastructure and preparing for future disasters, the international community should also continue to support immediate needs such as winterization, food support and rehabilitation of the flood victims.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a couple of reports on flood recovery in Pakistan:

World Food Program Report: "Six months after Pakistan was hit by devastating monsoon flooding, the recovery is at different stages in different parts of the country. In the north and central Pakistan, most families have been able to return to their homes, rebuild their houses, plant crops and take back their former lives.

But in a few areas of the southern province of Sindh, many communities are still surrounded by floodwaters. Thousands of families in Balochistan, in the southwest, are also unable to return to their homes. Between the two provinces, some 600,000 flood victims are still living in temporary camps and for these people recovery seems some way off."

BBC Report: " A village in Pakistan devastated by flooding has been renamed Midlands after a West Midlands charity raised money to help rebuild it.

Walsall-based Midland International Aid Trust raised £113,000 to help the 20 million people thought to be affected by the monsoon floods last year.

The village of Lal Pir, now named Midlands, had been cut off by water.

Mohammed Aslam MBE, the trust's founder, has been visiting the country to oversee how the aid is spent.

Mr Aslam, 71, originally from Kashmir, said he wanted to make sure every penny of aid went to the people living in the region.

He said in August he could only reach Lal Pir by boat.

Now all 36 homes which were destroyed have been rebuilt, at a cost of £2,000 each, after the charity provided the villagers with materials and tools.

The floods struck the north of the country in August. At least 1,500 died in the deluge."

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan govt has distributed Rs 28.6 billion among flood victims, according to Daily Times:

ISLAMABAD: Government of Pakistan has distributed Rs 28.6 billion among 1.483 million flood-affected families through NADRA’s Watan Card — each card has Rs 20000 cash assistance.

Deputy Chairman NADRA, Tariq Malik stated this while briefing the UN delegation headed by Margareta Wahlstrom, Special representative of the Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction who visited NADRA Headquarters today for briefing on Flood Relief System.

Tariq Malik while elaborating the overall progress said that in Punjab, 608,824 flood-hit families received Rs 11.96 billion while in Sindh 558,997 families received Rs 10.11 billion. In Baluchistan

Rs 1.85 billion have been distributed among 102,945 families and Rs 3.8 billion were disbursed among 199,414 families in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said in AJK and Gilgit Baltistan

Rs 188,450,000 distributed among 10,173 families and Rs 61,626,000 given to 3,263 families respectively.

He said the selection of beneficiaries is one of the most contentious aspects of any post disaster cash transfer programs in various countries. “NADRA walked extra miles as our aim was to protect the most vulnerable among the flood victims like women household, widows, special persons and minorities,” he told.

He told 120,081 Watan Cards were given to the households headed by women folks in the remotest areas of Pakistan — and 11,746 Watan Cards were given to minorities notified by the provinces.

Emphasising on Grievances Redressal System, Tariq Malik explained that 3.2 million people visited Watan Card centers, 335,044 complaints were received and NADRA has verified that 167,063 were eligible of Watan Cards of which around 155,000 have been given Watan Cards.

Fifty percent (50%) of the complaints were not genuine as these included people who already had received Watan Cards or their family member had received Watan Card. “We are not closing complaints redressal system, and would like to entertain all complaints on case to case basis,” he added.

He urged the media, international donor agencies and NGOs to focus on facts and real data, not on anecdotes or stereotypes or politically motivated press reports aiming generalisation based on isolated incidents.

Neva Khan, Country Director Oxfam, Madhavi Malagoda ARIYABANDU, Regional Programme Officer, UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction were among the members of delegation.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an IRIN story of a family in Muzaffargarh struggling to recover after the floods in 2010:

MUZAFFARGARH, 8 April 2011 (IRIN) - Eight months after floods forced Saleemullah Adeel and his family to abandon their home in Pakistan’s southern Punjab city of Muzaffargarh, the road to recovery has proved rough for this landless farmer.

The wheat he planted on 10 acres (four hectares) leased from a large landowner at an annual fee of US$118 per acre (0.4 hectares) is doing well, and Saleemullah hopes for a good crop because weather conditions so far have been good. Near his house, which is now partially repaired, there are neat rows of vegetables, and a few hens feed in the yard. But he has little else to be happy about.

“I bought wheat seed and fertilizer after selling the jewellery we had purchased for my elder daughter’s wedding, which was scheduled for this month,” Saleemullah told IRIN. “Now it has been postponed [yet] I have used up all my savings and my two sons, who worked on fish farms, have lost their jobs.”

The July-September 2010 floods destroyed hundreds of fish farms in the Muzaffargarh area, according to media reports, leaving many, like Saleemullah’s sons, out of work.

But Saleemullah’s problems do not end here. Since he did not own the land he farmed, he was not awarded compensation by the provincial government, which gave landowners seed and fertilizer. “The landlord we lease from claimed he needed [the seed and fertilizer] for his own lands,” he said.

Cotton crop destroyed

Other people, too, have suffered. “I have earned nothing for months because the cotton crop was destroyed, and factories which crush the cotton seed to extract oil did not employ us this time as they usually do,” said Ahsan Akhtar, 30, whose wife was not hired this year as a cotton-picker.

Across the country, people have continued to live with losses incurred during the floods, even as they attempt to recover, but this is proving tough. “My youngest child, aged six months, has had diarrhoea for nearly a month,” said Sanober Bibi, 25. “The health workers who used to visit early on after the floods no longer come, and the medicine given by the local midwife did him no good at all.” There is no clinic in their village.

On 6 April Neva Khan, country director of the UK Charity Oxfam, pointed fingers at the government, telling reporters that a delay on the part of the government to provide a “reconstruction strategy” had resulted in delays in urgent rebuilding and recovery work. In some cases this had “barely started even eight months after the disaster”, he said.

A government official refuted that claim. "The rehabilitation phase was started some months ago," Ahmed Kamal, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Authority, told IRIN. A Sindh government official, who preferred anonymity, said a "desperate lack of funds" was holding up recovery in the province, but "progress was slowly being made".

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn piece on rising rural income disparities from high commodity prices:

..Is the current spike in the commodity prices benefiting everyone living in the villages, particularly in Punjab and Sindh which together contribute more than 90 per cent to the country’s agricultural output and where more than two-thirds of the country’s population lives?

“Whereas a large chunk of this income has ended up with the agriculture elite, there are signs that some of it has trickled down to the small farmers as well,” according to Waheed. Others argue that the transfer of additional cash has widened income disparity in the rural society even if many small farmers have also benefited from the soaring crop prices because the “trickle-down” has been uneven and limited.
Ashfaque Hasan Khan, dean and principal of the NUST Business School who served as a special finance secretary in Musharraf government, says the income disparity in the rural areas has widened as a result of the rising crop prices.

“Only 40 per cent of the rural population is engaged in the crop sector and a vast majority of them are small landholders. This means only a small portion of population in the rural areas has gained from the increasing crop prices,” he elaborates.

In Punjab, for example, less than half of the rural population is engaged in the crop sector. Some 90 per cent of it falls in the category of small farmers with landholdings up to 12.5 acres.--------

“An overwhelming majority of small farmers buys inputs on credit and, thus, is forced to pay a much higher price than those who pay cash for these inputs,” claims Mughal. “Even if they have cash their cost has gone up manifold, offsetting the gains of
higher crop prices.”

There are people who are of the view that smaller landholding have helped a more equitable distribution of additional incomes among the growers in Punjab compared to the farmers in Sindh where landholdings are very large.

Salman Shah, former finance minister, says the additional incomes generated by higher commodity prices have been distributed more evenly in Punjab compared to Sindh.
Shah is of the opinion that the landless labour in the villages has also benefitted from the new economic prosperity being experienced in rural areas and their wages have also gone up. But he says only a comprehensive study of the impact of commodity prices on the rural society could give answers to many questions.
Many fear that the growing agricultural commodity prices may rob the farmers of the incentive to boost their productivity. Mughal says the rising prices and decreasing productivity is not good for the economy.

“Our productivity per acre has decreased significantly over the decades whereas India has successfully managed to substantially boost its crop output. The new wave of economic prosperity in the rural areas should not be allowed to take our focus off the need to boost productivity. That will be disastrous for the economy as well as people,” he warns.

While the soaring prices have brought a semblance of prosperity to the rural areas, it has added to woes of the urban population where poverty levels are rising and the quality of life suffering. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) has increased by 55 per cent over the last three years whereas salaries have not risen accordingly, according to Waheed.

“The urban population that relies on manufacturing growth and trading, or earns fixed salaries has generally experienced a deterioration in its standard of living, and is not happy about it. Large scale manufacturing growth has declined by about one per cent over the last three years whereas the wholesale trade has risen by a marginal four per cent,” he says, underlining the impact of rising price inflation on the urban consumers

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece by Prof Roy Prosterman of the Rural Development Institute on land distribution in Pakistan:

Pakistan’s land-tenure problems are more severe and have been more persistently ignored than nearly any others found on the planet. Though last year’s flood altered Pakistan’s landscape, it did not alter the fact that the vast majority of land in Pakistan is owned by a very small number of landlords – chiefly by 300 families of “feudals” who have ruled the Pakistani countryside for generations.

Their workers make up nearly half of the rural population, own no land, and toil as sharecroppers, day laborers, or under debt bondage. For generations, the only land most of them have been able to call their own is the plot for their grave.

These landless poor have no meaningful stake in rural society and it is often the Taliban who step in to use the poor’s grievances as grounds for recruitment.

For the poor, owning at least some land of one’s own is a lifeline to survival – a basic source of nutrition, income, status, and security. Grossly mistreated by landowners, the landless poor in country after country have supported severe civil unrest and outright revolution.

But solutions exist. In neighboring India, a number of individual states are now granting cost-free ownership of house-and-garden plots of about a tenth of an acre (slightly bigger than a tennis court) to the landless poor. Last year, India’s central government, eager to make further progress on the issue of landlessness and to undermine a persisting Marxist rebel movement, pledged $200 million to help buy lands – earmarked to become another 2 million micro-plots – at market price.

In Pakistan itself, Sindh Province has distributed 43,000 acres of government-owned land since 2008, mostly to poor rural women. That distribution has been of much larger plots (about 10 acres), but the same quantity of land could reach more than 400,000 landless families using the smaller house-and-garden plot model. Indeed, Punjab Province, Pakistan’s most populous, is now distributing one-quarter-acre plots to an initial 1,500 landless families, using government land.

The house-and-garden small-plot model reduces the amount of land required, allowing the government to acquire the land voluntarily, at market price, or use underutilized public land.

Huge amounts of assistance are now flowing into Pakistan from the world community. Islamabad and the provinces, with the support of the international community, should embrace giving micro-plots to the landless to ensure that the laborers who didn’t drown in their landlord’s fields are afforded a chance to build better lives for themselves, creating greater stability in Pakistan, and in turn furthering global security

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on Pakistan climate change policy:

Disaster-prone Pakistan has launched its first ever national policy on climate change, detailing how it plans to tackle the challenges posed by global warming, mitigate its risks and adapt key sectors of the country's economy to cope with its consequences.

Pakistan is highly vulnerable to weather-related disasters such as cyclones, droughts, floods, landslides and avalanches. Devastating floods in 2010 disrupted the lives of 20 million people – many more than the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami – and cost $10 billion.

The climate change policy, developed with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), recommends some 120 steps the country could take to slow down the impact of global warming, as well as adapt sectors such as energy, transport and agriculture.

Measures include flood forecasting warning systems, local rainwater harvesting, developing new varieties of resilient crops, promoting renewable energy sources and more efficient public transport.

"The National Climate Change policy takes into account risks and vulnerabilities of various development sectors with specific emphasis on water, food, energy and national security issues," said Rana Mohammad Farooq Saeed Khan, Minister for Climate Change at the launch of the policy is Islamabad on Tuesday.

But the policy needs a concrete action plan to back it up, with details, budgets and timelines first, some newspaper commentators said, adding that only then could there be a chance of effective implementation.

Questions have also arisen about where the money to fund implementation will come from and whether Pakistan's provinces have the capacity and expertise to put it in place.

Last year, a major U.N. report said the world needed to prepare better to deal with extreme weather and rising seas caused by climate change, in order to save lives and limit deepening economic losses.
UNDP's Pakistan Director Marc-André Franche said addressing changing weather patterns would help the country's economic development.

"Pakistan is among the most vulnerable countries facing climate risks and mechanisms need to be devised for greener, more resilient options for growth and sustainable development, said Franche at the launch.

"I hope the policy will help key stakeholders in identifying capacities and skills for the successful implementation of the policy," he added.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan orders AW139 twin-engine helicopters for search and rescue. Adds to 11 Pratt & Whitney PT6-powered helis

Pakistan has ordered an undisclosed number of AgustaWestland AW139 intermediate twin-engined helicopters configured for search and rescue missions.

Deliveries are due to start in 2017, says parent company Leonardo-Finmeccanica, with the deal part of a fleet renewal programme “spread over several batches”, it adds. Signed in Islamabad, the contract also covers its provision of personnel training and logistics support.

A total of 11 of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-powered helicopters are already operated in Pakistan. Of this number, Flightglobal's Fleets Analyzer database records five as used by the government for disaster relief and transportation missions.