Pakistan Hails Global Pledges of $9.7 Billion for Flood Rebuilding

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif praised the international community Wednesday for pledging $9.7 billion at this week’s conference in Geneva supporting Islamabad’s recovery efforts from devastating climate-induced summer floods.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Sharif co-hosted the day-long conference on Monday, with delegates from dozens of countries, international financial institutions and private donors in attendance.

Sharif told a news conference in Islamabad the final tally of pledges had exceeded a target for foreign donors to meet half of the $16.3 billion needed over the next three years to recover and rebuild from flooding. He said the rest of the funds would come from domestic resources.

The Islamic Development Bank, the World Bank, Saudi Arabia, France, the United States, China and the European Union were among some of the biggest donors. Pakistani officials said almost 90% of committed pledges are project-financing loans.

The flooding, triggered by unprecedented erratic monsoon rains between June and August last year, affected 33 million people, displaced 8 million, killed more than 1,700, and pushed an additional 9.1 million people below the poverty line, according to U.N. and Pakistani officials.

“The faster we can design and create feasibilities and impress [donors], the faster these pledges will materialize,” the prime minister said when asked how soon Pakistan expects to receive the money.

Sharif thanked the U.N. chief Wednesday for his “pivotal” role in making the Geneva conference a “resounding success” and fighting for the flood victims “like a Pakistani.”

Guterres opened Monday’s event with an impassioned plea for aid on behalf of millions of Pakistanis whose lives and livelihoods were upended by the flooding. He described the crisis as a “climate disaster of monumental scale” and noted that one-third of Pakistan remained under water more than six months after floods hit the country.

Sharif reiterated that effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms will be put in place to ensure transparency in funding allocation and spending, which will be combined with public communications on the recovery progress.

Critics note that pledges made at international conferences often do not entirely materialize because of multiple factors, including inflated project costs, corruption and fraud by authorities in recipient nations.

Previous independent investigations in Pakistan have confirmed massive corruption and fraud in relief programs that were undertaken after a devastating earthquake in 2005 and a 2010 monsoon flooding disaster.

Britain’s independent charitable organization Oxfam commissioned an investigation into one of its programs in flood-hit southern Sindh province and concluded there was a loss from fraud of up to $220,000. “Invoices were found to be falsified; and there was extensive manipulation of checks to suppliers,” the organization said in its study released in August 2011.

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