ISLAMABAD: A joint assessment by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank on Thursday estimated the losses suffered by the floods at $9.7 billion, almost five times less than what had been claimed by the government.
In a joint communiqué, the WB and the ADB said that the floods that swept across Pakistan since July caused an estimated $9.7 billion in damage to infrastructure, farms, homes, as well as other direct and indirect losses.
In carrying out the assessment, the ADB and the World Bank teams examined the extent of the damage in 15 key sectors across the country. Some officials said on conditions of anonymity that confusion persists on whether this $9.7 billion figure includes the reconstruction cost. But the communique states, “included in the estimate was the direct damage, indirect losses and reconstruction costs”. The government differs from this, and has said without stating a definite amount that reconstruction will cost more.
A spokesperson of the Economic Affairs Division said the government will review the report in the next 15 days and in case it agrees with the findings, the final report may be released on October 31. “The losses are almost double the amount of damage caused by the 2005 Pakistan earthquake,” said Rune Stroem, the ADB Country Director for Pakistan.
The damage needs assessment (DNA) found that agriculture and livestock sectors have been the worst hit, followed by complete or partial damage to a large number of houses. According to the damage assessment, roads have been hit hard particularly at the district and village level, and irrigation facilities have also suffered serious damages. One-fifth of the country was affected by the floods, with Sindh being worst affected.
Pakistan had authorised the WB and the ADB to carry out the assessment of the damages in order to win the trust of the international community and obtain billions of dollars of loans needed to start the reconstruction phase. The international community has given a loud message that much of the money will have to be arranged domestically through tax reforms. The donors’ estimates are contrary to what Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani presented in a Cabinet meeting, held on September 1. The premier stated that “the floods have inflicted damage to the economy, which may, by some estimates reach $43 billion, which is more that the combined budget of federal and provincial governments.
The donors have submitted the DNA survey draft report to the government and much of the details will be made public at the Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP) meeting in Brussels on Friday.
On the basis of the DNA report, the government will appeal for aid in an upcoming meeting of Pakistan Development Forum, tentatively scheduled for mid November. However, before committing billions in aid, the US on behalf of the international community has forwarded many questions for ensuring transparent use of money. The government has already decided to contest the ADB demand.
Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan said now that the DNA has been completed “Our job as friends of Pakistan is to help the country respond to this enormous reconstruction challenge.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2010.