2010 floods: Govt plans to step up, as WB downgrades aid programme

Published: February 7, 2012
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In this photograph taken on August 25, 2010, a Pakistani woman displaced by floods holds her baby as she prepares food. PHOTO: FILE/AFP

In this photograph taken on August 25, 2010, a Pakistani woman displaced by floods holds her baby as she prepares food. PHOTO: FILE/AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

With a majority of the 2010 flood survivors still deprived of the first tranche of compensation, World Bank’s move of downgrading their aid programme has compelled Pakistan to increase its coverage to 531,000 households in the next two months.

A recent report by the Washington-based lending agency reveals that until November 2011, the government had disbursed the first tranche of Rs60,000 to only 250,000 households – less than one-fourth of the target.

The WB downgraded the Citizen’s Damage Compensation Programme (CDCP) to ‘moderately satisfactory’ after it found that Sindh and Balochistan were lagging way behind.  Both provinces, ruled by Pakistan Peoples Party-led coalition governments, could not complete the Houses Damage Survey – a prerequisite to disburse the first tranche of Rs20,000.

The programme implementation report was produced after the conclusion of the second Joint Supervision and Evaluation Mission visit to Pakistan in November. The mission comprised representatives from USAID, UK’s Department for International Development, Italy and World Bank.  The next mission is expected to visit Pakistan in the first week of March.

The WB’s downgrade has left the government with no other option but to pull up their socks as leaving a majority of population without compensation may work against them ahead of the general elections.

A WB official said, on the condition of anonymity, that the ‘moderately satisfactory’ tag compelled the authorities to put an extra effort in disbursing compensation, with the hope that the WB’s next mission may reverse their decision.

Citizen’s Damage Compensation Programme

In the wake of the epic floods in the country’s history, the government had initially announced to give Rs 100,000 to each affected family. The total cost of the programme had been estimated at Rs160 billion.

However, the government was unable to spare the required fiscal space and, later, decreased the compensation to Rs 60,000 per family. Of that, Rs 20,000 has been distributed among 1.6 million households while the remaining Rs40,000 will only be given to those who have lost their houses.

The WB has approved a $25 million loan for the CDCP. The cabinet division and the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) are the implementing agencies of the programme.

“Overall, the programme is on track except for a delay in rollover in Sindh and Balochistan and this is beyond the control of NADRA,” said Tariq Malik, deputy chairman of the entity. He added that while in Sindh the disbursement has started, so far no compensation has been given in Balochistan due to a delay in the completion of the Houses Damage Survey.

Malik said that against a target of 1.1 million, so far 531,296 households have received the first tranche of the compensation money.

In Punjab 248,000 households have received Rs6 billion, 203,000 households have received Rs 3.1 billion in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, while in Sindh only 73,000 households have received Rs83 million in compensation.

Discrepancy in survey reports

An official of the international lending agency said on condition of anonymity that Houses Damage Survey’s results are different than the estimates of damaged houses reported in the Damage and Needs Assessment Report, conducted jointly by the WB and the Asian Development Bank.

He said Punjab had reported 615,000 damaged or destroyed homes but the survey only confirmed 310,000. Similarly, Sindh reported 380,000 destroyed houses, while the third party-conducted survey confirmed 218,000 affected houses.

“The mission noted bottlenecks in the availability of hardware and other logistics for setting up registration centers, which somewhat hampered implementation progress,” the WB report stated.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2012.

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