Tuesday January 9, 2024

One year since the international conference to fund Pakistan’s flood recovery, progress is far too slow and only an estimated 5% of damaged and destroyed homes have been fully rebuilt, Islamic Relief says. Many rural flood survivors feel abandoned, with a worsening mental health crisis in some affected communities as a result.


The conference, held in Geneva on 9 January 2023, saw around $10 billion pledged in the aftermath of the worst floods in Pakistan’s history. It was widely seen as a success, but most of the money pledged has not yet reached people on the ground. Millions of people are still living in tents or basic shelters, without access to decent livelihoods or basic services.



Asif Sherazi, Islamic Relief Country Director in Pakistan, says: “Billions of dollars’ worth of aid and investment has been promised, but most of it has not yet reached people who need it most. One year later, millions of people are still living in terrible conditions and many families are in flimsy tents for a second consecutive winter. They are trapped in debt, struggling to earn a living and wondering if they will survive. Children are malnourished from lack of food, and when they get sick they can’t access healthcare. Many flood survivors feel abandoned and forgotten and are losing hope for the future.”


The 2022 floods caused an estimated $30 billion of loss and damage, wiped out crops and cattle on which people depend for their livelihoods, and destroyed or damaged 2.1 million homes and other critical infrastructure such as roads, schools and health facilities.



At the Geneva conference, most of the $10 billion pledged came from multilateral financial institutions. Almost 90% of the pledges came in the form of long-term loans that trap Pakistan even deeper into debt, and a significant amount of the money pledged was old money recycled from previous commitments.


Exact numbers are hard to confirm but research by Islamic Relief estimates that just tens of thousands of the 2.1 million damaged or destroyed homes across Pakistan have so far been fully rebuilt. Other services such as schools, water systems and health facilities are similarly awaiting rehabilitation.



The slow progress is leading to a growing mental health crisis in some flood-affected communities. In one village in Sindh province, where many people are still living in tents or damaged homes, Kiran* told us of a rise in depression and suicide: “In just this one village five people have committed suicide in the past year – men, women, young girls. Unemployment has risen since the floods and people are without hope for the future,” she says.


Islamic Relief continues to support people across Pakistan to recover from the floods, such as helping families to repair and rebuild homes, rehabilitating water systems, providing cash grants and setting up psychosocial support facilities.



Islamic Relief is urging the international community and the government of Pakistan to accelerate recovery and reconstruction efforts.


Asif Sherazi continues: “Genuine reconstruction does take time, especially following a disaster of this enormity. But far too many people are still living in the same or worse conditions as a year ago. There is no doubt that recovery and reconstruction is moving far too slowly.”


“Climate change means that disasters like this are happening with increasing frequency and severity, and the world needs to respond better. The current system is clearly not working. There must be more focus on grants, investment and debt relief – not loans that trap countries in more debt. The richest and highest polluting countries that are most responsible for climate change have a duty to ensure that the people who suffer the worst impacts are better supported.”

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