Flood-affected people concerned over lack of funding for disaster management
Karachi: With heavy rains predicted during the monsoon season, members of communities that were affected in the floods of the last two years in Sindh stressed that more funds would be needed to combat any potential disaster.
Despite the province having witnessed successive mega floods in 2010 and 2011 and the prediction of a 15 percent increase in rains during the 2012 monsoon season, disaster preparedness, contingency planning and humanitarian relief were the lowest budgeted and funded sectors at the provincial and district levels, said a report titled Analysis of Funds allocation status to Disaster related Initiatives and Issues’.
The report was released by the Peoples Accountability Commission on Floods (PACF), a network of the flood affected communities in Sindh.
While quoting the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the report said that the NDMA had advised all the provincial governments, including Sindh, to allocate Rs5 billion for disaster preparedness, contingency planning and relief measures due to prediction of heavy rains in 2012. However, the provincial government, during the 2012-2013 budget, allocated only Rs500 million for the relief department.
The Metrological Department’s prediction of 15 percent increase in rains during the 2012 monsoon, NDMA has declared 29 districts of Pakistan as vulnerable districts including, nine districts of Sindh including Badin, Thatta, Tando Mohammed Khan, Tando Allahyar, Mirpurkhas, Sanghar, Umerkot, Tharparkar and Dadu. However, these districts are facing serious funding shortages in their preparations to provide relief services in case of heavy rains and floods.
Similarly, due to budget constraints, districts like Umerkot, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Badin and Tando Mohammad Khan were not even able to drain out the flood waters of 2011 from their low lying areas.
PACF reports pointed out that Sindh government did not allocate enough money for emergency / relief or early recovery phases and was seeking humanitarian funding from donors, rather than allocating the required amount.
Describing the past initiatives taken by Sindh government as poor, the report mentioned that as per a flash appeal, launched on September 18, 2011 on the basis of the Pakistan Rapid Response Plan Floods, the government only achieved 171 million US dollar (52%) out of the total appeal of US$356.7
PACF report stated that it was alarming that government, in its revised appeal launched on February 8, 2012 for the early recovery framework for 9.2 millions flood affected people, the government only received US$26,239,512 (6%), out of the required amount of US$439,813,059 and 94 percent funding gap, which badly affected the government plan to intervene in sectors of food security, health, nutrition, community restoration, water, sanitation and hygiene facilitates.
On the one hand, international humanitarian response for the flood affected communities of 2011 floods was very poor, while on the other, the Sindh government, in its 2012-2013 budget, did not allocate any major funding for the rehabilitation of 2011 floods and for the relief services in the case of floods in 2012, further increasing risks and making communities vulnerable to future natural disasters, the reported stated.
It added that the PDMA is lacking funds to hire and train its staff for being the efficient authority. Besides expressing its concern over the lack of funding, the PACF report also expressed its reservations on the transparency of the funds spent for relief and early recovery.
The reports pointed out that the federal and provincial governments spent Rs23.5 billion rupees for the distribution of relief items, Pakistan Card, Rabi Package and rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure, thus far. However, irregularities in distributing cash and relief items caused damage to the rehabilitation process, the report mentioned.
It added that due to negligence of irrigation department, 45 sensitive’s points at river embankments were not restored despite allocations for their restoration in previous budget. Furthermore, the approved budget of the province does not contain compensation programme associated with the livestock, fisheries, poultry, and shelter to support the thousands of the rain affected families, report further said.
The report also suggested removing duplication in the roles of PDMA and relief department in Sindh province.In conclusion, the PACF has suggested an increase in disaster preparedness, contingency and relief funds at federal, provincial and district level. The report suggested that separate disaster management funds should be established at the provincial level with sufficient allocations and a proper transparent system of fund use and the district governments should also allocate at least two percent of their district budget on disaster preparedness, contingency planning and humanitarian relief.