World Bank to allow $2bn diversion for flood relief – Business

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is expected to spend $2 billion of World Bank funds – earmarked for multi-sectoral projects in the country – for food, shelter and other urgent needs after devastating floods.

WB’s new vice president for South Asia region announced on Saturday that the lender is eyeing about $2 billion in financing to help Pakistan build resilience to climate-related risks.

“As an immediate response, we are redirecting funds from existing World Bank-funded projects to address urgent health, food, shelter, rehabilitation and cash transfer needs,” Martin Raiser said in a statement issued at the end of his Pakistan trip has been published.

The current portfolio includes 54 projects and total commitments of $13.1 billion, the World Bank’s Islamabad-based mission said. The World Bank Group’s portfolio supports reforms and investments to strengthen institutions, particularly in the areas of tax administration and human development. At the provincial level, partnerships focused on multisectoral initiatives in areas such as child nutrition, education and skills, irrigated agriculture, tourism and urban development would be strengthened.

Funds from existing projects will be repurposed to meet urgent post-flood needs, says WB VP Raiser

Reaffirming the Bank’s commitment to assisting the people of Pakistan in the wake of the devastating floods, Mr Raiser said: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of life and livelihoods due to the devastating floods and we are working with the federal and provincial governments to to remedy immediate relief to those most affected.”

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Mr. Raiser previously met Federal Ministers Ayaz Sadiq, Miftah Ismail, Ahsan Iqbal and Khurram Dastgir, and Minister of State for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha. He also met with State Bank Governor Jameel Ahmed, National Disaster Management Authority Chairman Lt. Gen. Akhtar Nawaz, and representatives from think tanks and the private sector.

The official also met Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and discussed the impact of unprecedented rains and flooding and how the World Bank is supporting the provincial government in reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts. During his visit to Sindh, he saw first-hand the extent of the damage and met affected households at an aid camp in Dadu district.

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Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif previously held a meeting with World Bank President David Malpass on the sidelines of the UNGA session in New York, where the latter reiterated the World Bank’s commitment to support Pakistan with immediate financing through reallocation of the existing loan portfolio and new emergency investments.

Shaping political discourse

In a Policy and Technical Note on Lessons for the Recent Floods in Pakistan from 2010, the World Bank says that with elections approaching in the country, the impact of the floods and the state’s response to them will not only shape political discourse, it is also likely that newer and more voters will participate in the voting process.

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In its finding that natural disasters can boost political awareness and activity, the World Bank noted that a detailed study of the impact of the 2010 floods on turnout in the 2013 national election found strong evidence of higher turnout, particularly in areas with low ex-ante flood risk.

Learning from the 2010 floods is as important for governments, donors, and humanitarian and aid organizations as it is for poor and vulnerable households, who simultaneously bear the brunt of nature’s fury, human errors of omission and omission, and limited means to cope, politics paper specified.

In the ongoing crisis, relief efforts should not be planned for an arbitrary period of time, but instead the duration of support should be based on an assessment of household needs and the pace of recovery.

Published in Dawn, September 25, 2022

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