The United Nations and Pakistan are to appeal for $160m (£135m) in emergency funding for the nearly half a million people displaced by record-breaking floods that have killed more than 1,150 people since mid-June.
Large areas remain underwater and more than 33 million people, or one in seven Pakistanis, have been affected by the floods. Rescuers have been evacuating stranded people to safer ground.
According to initial government estimates, the devastation has caused $10bn in damage to the economy. “It is a preliminary estimate likely to be far greater,” the planning minister, Ahsan Iqbal, said before the launch of the appeal in Islamabad on Tuesday.
The International Monetary Fund’s executive board on Monday approved the release of a long-awaited $1.17bn for Pakistan. The IMF signed a large bailout accord with the country in 2019 but the release of the $1.17bn tranche had been on hold since earlier this year, when the IMF expressed concern about Pakistan’s compliance with the deal’s terms under the then government of Imran Khan, who was ousted as prime minister via a no-confidence vote in April.
The UN said last week it had allocated $3m for its aid agencies and their partners in Pakistan to respond to the floods. The money will be used for health, nutrition, food security, as well as water and sanitation services, focusing on the most vulnerable.
Pakistan’s climate change minister, Sherry Rehman, on Monday said more monsoons were expected in September. The rains have hit earlier and more heavily than usual since the start of summer, officials say – most recently huge downpours last week that affected almost the entire country.
“This year Pakistan has received the highest rainfall in at least three decades. So far this year the rain is running at more than 780% above average levels,” said Abid Qaiyum Suleri, the executive director of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute and a member of Pakistan’s Climate Change Council. “Extreme weather patterns are turning more frequent in the region and Pakistan is not an exception.”
Pakistan experienced similar flooding and devastation in 2010 that killed nearly 2,000 people. But the government did not implement plans to prevent future flooding by preventing construction and homes in flood-prone areas and riverbeds, said Suleri.
It reflects how poorer countries often pay the price for climate breakdown largely caused by more industrialised countries. Since 1959, Pakistan has been responsible for only 0.4% of the world’s historical CO2 emissions. The US is responsible for 21.5%, China for 16.5% and the EU 15%.
Pakistan started receiving international aid this week and more planes carrying aid from Turkey and the United Arab Emirates landed at an airport near Islamabad on Tuesday, according to a statement released by the military. It said Chinese planes carrying aid would also arrive in Pakistan later that day.
Pakistan has deployed at least 6,500 soldiers to help authorities in rescue and relief operations.