Pakistan floods: how the world is responding

 As the effects of severe flooding in Pakistan come to light, the scale of social and economic destruction is better understood. Conservatively estimated, the disaster left nearly 15 million individuals in dire conditions with unstable access to food, education, or shelter. The most vulnerable portion of the population in the region of Sindh finally experienced some relief as rising water levels began to regress after weeks of constant increases in torrential rain. As efforts shift to relief, Pakistan, now a country of individuals whose entire life has been uprooted and washed away, must find a way to rebuild.

Stepping back to observe the broader international response to the crisis, , various foreign services organizations and other state actors, are stepping up in times of desperate need despite global financial instability due to macroeconomic uncertainty and geopolitical tensions. In particular, two of the largest humanitarian organizations in the world, The United Nations and the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) began to provide aid months back. But as the scale of the destruction grew to include entire infrastructure systems funding increased. 

Specifically,the IFRC launched an emergency response for 25 million Swiss Francs to “fund relief and recovery efforts for an estimated 324,000 people.”  Meanwhile the UN rapidly increased its aid offering to Pakistan. As noted by the Save the Children Foundation, the aid was multiplied by nearly 5 times from “$160 million to $816 million, which will mean humanitarian organizations and the Pakistan Government can better help families in need.”

Other states on the global stage have come to the aid of Pakistan in myriad economic, social, and political ways. For example, the EU introduced an aid package of €30 million euros. The EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič said that,

“EU reaffirms its continued support to Pakistan and stands by the most vulnerable to help them fulfill basic needs. Once again, however, nature reminded us of the impact of global warming. Mainstreaming disaster preparedness and prevention in EU funded projects will therefore remain our top priority within the provision of humanitarian assistance.” 

Furthermore, another example of global actors stepping up to provide relief comes from China which offered to aid Pakistan by restructuring the country’s debt by agreeing to roll over 4.2 billion dollars. This allows Pakistan to continue operating without being forced into a technical default that could crater their already weakened economy. While the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome was noted as saying that “our priority is to redirect critical resources in Pakistan ” due to the scale of destruction and level of humanitarian aid needed. It is important to note, India has officially not given any aid to Pakistan because of tensions from a bilateral trade ban in 2019. Though India has expressed an openness to “importing vegetables” it is not prepared to return to normal relations. 

Regardless of how much aid Pakistan received, there is still an enormous gap in rebuilding the country to the point of continued success. The Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif says “all hell will break loose” if the country does not receive more aid. It is evident that without a meaningful and increased investment to the economic and social fallout, the country could fall years behind in its progression of development. The storm particularly affected rural areas, like Sindh, “destroy[ing] more than 1.5 million houses, 63 bridges, 2,688 kilometers of roads and nearly half a million animals drowned in the flood water.” Specially, the shortfallings in aid to provide adequate funds to rebuild the internal infrastructure hamper the ability of any other humanitarian efforts to be truly effective in reaching their desired recovery goal. Continued relief and development programs are the keys to slowly help recover this region and the entire country. 

The situation in Pakistan demonstrates a growing concern about the hyper-connected and interdependent global society in which tensions and actionable priorities shift focus away from humanitarian crises. As polarization increases, states have less incentive to unite and provide goods and services to those in desperate need. The light must continue to shine on Pakistan highlighting each of their daily struggles and demonstrating the developed world has not forgotten about the developing world. Until then, the international community is not doing enough to properly uplift its people out of this destruction. 

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