Floods cost at least $10b: Iqbal

Minister says world has an obligation to help South Asian nation

Reuters August 29, 2022
People retrieve bamboos from a damaged house following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Dera Allah Yar, district Jafferabad, Balochistan. PHOTO: REUTERS


Early estimates put the damage from the deadly floods at more than $10 billion, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said on Monday, adding that the world has an obligation to help the South Asian nation cope with the effects of man-made climate change.

Unprecedented flash floods caused by historic monsoon rains have washed away roads, crops, infrastructure and bridges, killing at least 1,000 people in recent weeks and affecting more than 33 million.

"I think it is going to be huge. So far, (a) very early, preliminary estimate is that it is big, it is higher than $10 billion," Ahsan Iqbal told Reuters in an interview.

"So far we have lost 1,000 human lives. There is damage to almost nearly one million houses," Iqbal said at his office. "People have actually lost their complete livelihood."

The minister said it might take five years to rebuild and rehabilitate the nation of 200 million people, while in the near term it will be confronted with acute food shortages.

Social media users posted videos recorded with mobile phones showing stranded people and whole families washed away by floodwater. Reuters was unable to independently verify such footage.

Read more: Flooded highways hamper relief efforts in Balochistan

Pakistan has already appealed for international help and some countries have already sent in supplies and rescue teams. The nation's foreign minister told Reuters on Sunday he hoped financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund would provide financial aid, taking the economic cost of the floods into account.

However, Iqbal said any formal requests for financial help would need to wait until the scale of the damage was known, something Pakistan was now evaluating with partners, including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

He also said the world owed Pakistan, which was a victim of climate change caused by "irresponsible development of the developed world".

"Our carbon footprint is lowest in the world," he said. "The international community has a responsibility to help us, upgrade our infrastructure, to make our infrastructure more climate resilient, so that we don't have such losses every three, four, five years."

Iqbal said 45% of cotton crops had been washed away with early wheat sowing in southern Pakistan also affected, as large swaths of land remained inundated with flood water, and severe damage to rice fields, and vegetable and fruit crops.

Sindh and Balochistan provinces have been hit the hardest by the floods that swept through farmland and towns, with large parts of both and northern Pakistan districts cut off for many days from the rest of the country. Reuters