Aug 30 - Sep 05, 20

As the floods are at final stages of direct devastations, international financial institutions are bending backward to come up with estimates of losses the disaster unfettered on the human lives and the economy as a whole as well as funds required for rehabilitation and reconstruction activities.

Lethargic in the beginning international aid agencies have now become generous in providing aids in cash and in-kinds to flood victims and local partners and clusters. People independently or in groups are providing foods, medicines, and other necessities to flood victims.

According to the analysts, international aid agencies have responded positively to a call for aids by Pakistan and they have pledged and donated substantial amount for flood reliefs as well as for initial emergency response. United Nations said that 272 million dollars have been received for initial floods emergency response plan. UN appealed for 460 million dollar in a session attended by world leaders whose pledges doubled afterwards. In addition to promises and allocations of funds by China, US, Saudi Arabia, Canada, etc., international financial institutions have also pledged 2.9 billion dollars to Pakistan. The Asian Development Bank will contribute two billion dollar and depute its specialists-team for reconstruction activities while the World Bank has also committed $900 million. The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have collaborated in damages and needs assessment.

Undeniable is the fact that human causalities from recent calamity in Pakistan will turn out beyond initial figures of 1500 or 1600. In present scenario when census record is poor, reaching actual tally will take some time. On the other hand, health issues are getting critical in flood-hit areas with deadly outbreaks of cholera, diarrhoea, other waterborne diseases looming over the heads of a large number of populations after the floods that rendered at least five million homeless and affected 20 million people. In this century, floods in China brought about death toll in almost a million.

The real test of administration will begin at next stage of reconstruction and rehabilitation. The floods are being considered massive in magnitude because victims they made are more than those of Tsunami and infrastructure damages they wreaked are enormous.

Floods have caused closure of 51 branches of banks across Pakistan, according to latest estimate. Twenty branches were closed in Sindh while 31 in Punjab. According to the State bank, more branches will be closed down with the floods assuming power. Many banks in flood-affected areas had to shift branches to safe locations.

Livestock sector that accounts for 50 per cent of total agriculture outputs was badly affected by the floods and five million livestock heads came under the devastating effects of the floods in the province of Sindh, said Laiq Ahmed Memon provincial secretary livestock and fisheries. Talking to reporters in Sukkur, he said 139 veterinary doctors and 340 Para veterinary staff are working in the affected locations to prevent outbreaks of diseases. He said animals are being vaccinated against pneumonia, black quarter, and other zoonotic diseases. So far, 1017,933 animals have been vaccinated in affected districts of Ghotki, Sukkur, Kashmor, Jacobabad, Larkana, Qambar-Shahdad Kot, Kherpoor, Nosheraferoz, Dadu, Jamshoro, Matiyari, Hyderabad, Tando Mohammad Khan, and Thataa, he said.

Floods wreaked havocs nationwide primarily affecting settlements on Indus riverbed or near embankments. But, areas located 60 to 70 kilomters away from Indus River were also affected by the floodwaters. Breaches made to divert the flows caused inundation in districts of upper Sindh and Balochistan including Jaffarabad, Naseerabad, and Sibi, according to media reports. There are scepticisms breaches at Ghospur Loop were made to save inland fish farmhouses of Jakharani, Sundrani, Mehar, and Jatoi, a sceptic notes in his posting in a daily.

Parliamentary representative of Jacobabad told a private TV channel that diversion was essential to save the city, which he said has several strategic instalments including, as rumour has it, a US-run airbase. Independent people are demanding judicial inquiry in to the cases of arbitrarily breach making. Such practices taken in hasten to secure personal interests also proved the fragility of state administration in coping up with the emergency.

Kneejerk responses of people on self-help basis saved one area but at the expense of others. Total 4,415 villages of 19 districts of Sindh were completely submerged in water upsetting 41,39,847 people, provincial disaster management authority told participants during a briefing at governor house, Karachi. 140 kilometers of railway tracks were wiped away while 1517 kilometers of roads were inundated in the province.

A well coordinated and organised damages and needs assessment will be required to extrapolate funds for rehabilitation of flood victims and reconstruction of flood-affected areas. The cost of rehabilitation and reconstruction will be huge if direct effects and health and economic implications of the floods are kept under consideration.

Sindh has sustained minimum losses of 50 billion rupees and it will take at least six months to resettle displaced families at their hometowns and areas, according to provincial disaster management authority. People have their homes swallowed up by swirling torrents; their ready-to-be-harvested crops have been drained out; and they are under a dire threat of diseases' epidemic.

Rehabilitations of people affected by the floods will require considerable funds, which definitely Pakistan's fragile economy cannot meet on its own. Apart from funds needed to bring back life to normal, Pakistan's economy also needs fiscal stimulus to offset the impact of the floods on its engine of growth agriculture sector. Asian Development Bank has already warned that Pakistan's economic growth will stay at three percent this year.

Losses to human lives are irreversible but future direction might be set to prevent effects and after-effects of such disaster. That requires rehabilitation with strategic planning. Exact figures of damages will be clear once damages and needs assessment is completed. The funds pledged are effective when properly utilised. It is a hope funds will be utilised properly and channelled to flood victims.