The 1.2 million people awaiting compensation will not be able to rebuild their homes damaged in last year’s devastating floods if the government delays the payments, according to UNHabitat, the UN agency mandated to assist the flood-affected people for the provision of shelter.
Pakistan is currently negotiating with the World Bank to determine the amount of the compensation, according to government sources. Pakistan is likely to sign a finance agreement on May 20, said an official. “It is yet to be decided whether the flood-stricken people will get Rs40,000 or Rs80,000.” The amount will be disbursed in two tranches depending on the deal with the World Bank.
The second phase of the Watan card scheme includes disbursement of cash for reconstruction or repairs of homes. UNHabitat Country Director Siamak Moghaddam told The Express Tribune that the flood survivors can only initiate construction work once the government releases the promised funds. Moghaddam said that several programmes require the beneficiary to make a contribution towards construction undertaken with the agency’s assistance, “but we are unable to even begin the process” due to the delay in the disbursement of funds.
The first installment of Rs20,000 has already been distributed among1.6 million people over a span of six months through Watan cards to provide immediate relief in the aftermath of the floods. As much as Rs30 billion has already been disbursed across the country with contributions from the centre as well as the provinces. The first phase, now in its final leg, will be over by the end of this month.
NADRA Deputy Chairman Tariq Malik said that post 18th Amendment, there are certain changes due to take place in the Calamity Act of 1954. He said that 50 per cent of the adjustment of resources of phase two will be done by the provinces now. The provinces have begun a damage survey with technical assistance from NGOs and the UN which will help to determine the needs of the affected population. NADRA will then be in a position to identify the most vulnerable through a transparent mechanism. With the exception of Punjab, which has completely stopped entertaining grievances of the flood-hit people since December, all the other provinces have been making efforts for their rehabilitation. The Punjab government has directed them to file complaints in the courts, which is not helping the cause.
According to the UN, the last year’s floods constituted the worst natural disaster in Pakistan’s history. Over 18 million people were affected by the devastation and at least 1.67 million homes were damaged or completely destroyed
Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2011.