At a U.N.-backed ‘support’ conference to help Pakistan recover and rebuild from the devastating summer floods, countries and international institutions have pledged more than $9 billion. This sum is expected to balloon further in order to meet the Pakistani government’s estimated needs of $16.3 billion for damages caused by the floods.
The floods have killed more than 1,700 people, destroyed more than 2 million homes and covered as much as one-third of the country at one point. In order to help Pakistan tackle the effects of the disaster, major donors such as the Islamic Development Bank ($4.2 billion), World Bank ($2 billion) and the Asian Development Bank ($1.5 billion) have come forward to contribute. Also, the United States announced $200 million, whereas the European Union, Germany, China and Japan had pledged $93 million, $88 million, $100 million, $77 million respectively. Saudi Arabia also announced a $1 billion pledge.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres addressed the conference, highlighting the “cold injustice” of developing countries suffering due to climate change. He further added that while in South Asia, people are 15 times more likely to die from climate-related disasters, in Pakistan’s case the devastation is monumental. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has termed the flooding as ‘a tsunami from the sky.’ The flooding hit the provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan worst, destroying 8,000 kilometers of roads, 3,100 kilometers of railway track, 2 million houses and displacing 33 million people.
At the conference, the Pakistani government asked for more than just financial aid; they sought measures to help them build resilience and tackle future climate-induced disasters. Climate scientists have established that while emissions of heat-trapping gases from industrialized countries is responsible for global heating, extensive economic, societal and construction-oriented factors contributed to the floods in Pakistan.
As thousands of people are still living in open spaces and makeshift homes in Sindh and Baluchistan, UNICEF has estimated that 4 million children are at risk due to contaminated and stagnant water. The world body has also launched an emergency appeal for $816 million to provide food, medicines and other supplies to those affected by the floods.
The outcome of Monday’s conference serves as a test case to measure how much wealthy nations would be willing to contribute to developing-world countries in crisis. It also pushes the agenda of setting up an international fund to compensate vulnerable countries like Pakistan, which will be discussed at the U.N. Climate Talks in 2021.