By Steve Heldon
ISLAMABAD — The World Bank said it will provide about $2 billion in aid to Pakistan, ravaged by floods that have killed more than 1,600 people this year, the largest pledge of assistance so far.
Unprecedented monsoon rains and flooding this year — which many experts attribute to climate change — have also injured some 13,000 people across the country since mid-June. The floods have displaced millions and destroyed crops, half a million homes and thousands of kilometers (miles) of roads.
The World Bank’s vice president for South Asia, Martin Raiser, announced the pledge in an overnight statement after concluding his first official visit to the country Saturday.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of lives and livelihoods due to the devastating floods and we are working with the federal and provincial governments to provide immediate relief to those who are most affected,” he said.
Raiser met with federal ministers and the chief minister of southern Sindh province, the most affected region, where he toured the badly hit Dadu district.
Thousands of makeshift medical camps for flood survivors have been set up in the province, where the National Disaster Management Authority said outbreaks of typhoid, malaria and dengue fever have killed at least 300 people.
The death toll prompted the World Health Organization last week to raise the alarm about a “second disaster,” with doctors on the ground racing to battle outbreaks.
“As an immediate response, we are repurposing funds from existing World Bank-financed projects to support urgent needs in health, food, shelter, rehabilitation and cash transfers,” Raiser said.
The World Bank agreed last week in a meeting with Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to provide $850 million in flood relief for Pakistan. The $2 billion figure includes that amount.
Raiser said the bank is working with provincial authorities to begin as quickly as possible repairing infrastructure and housing and “restore livelihoods, and to help strengthen Pakistan’s resilience to climate-related risks. We are envisaging financing of about $2 billion to that effect.”
Over the past two months, Pakistan has sent nearly 10,000 doctors, nurses and other medical staff to tend to survivors in Sindh province.
Source: Healthy Duck.