Pakistan flood cost estimated at $9.5b
ISLAMABAD — International lenders are estimating that this summer’s floods caused $9.5 billion in damage to Pakistan’s infrastructure, agriculture, and other sectors, a government official said yesterday.
The estimate, drafted by the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank in consultation with Pakistani leaders, underscores the financial challenges facing Pakistan, a US-allied nation that is battling an Islamist insurgency and was relying on international loans before the deluge.
Although other nations, including the United States, have contributed millions to the relief effort, they have warned Pakistan that they cannot foot the entire recovery and reconstruction bill, which some have estimated could surpass $40 billion. US officials, in particular, have urged Pakistan to improve its anemic tax collection to aid its long-term rebuilding.
The $9.5 billion figure refers only to existing values of roads, buildings, irrigation systems, and other devastated sectors that were evaluated nationwide, not what it will cost to replace them, said the government official familiar with the report.
The replacement costs will depend on which projects the government chooses to pursue and whether it wants to rebuild certain structures in the same fashion or better, he said.
The floods began in late July during unusually heavy monsoon rains, eventually covering one-fifth of the country and affecting some 20 million of its 175 million people. Nearly 2,000 people died.
Dozens of bridges were washed away, while more than 1.9 million homes were damaged or destroyed. Around 5.9 million acres of farmland were damaged, a severe blow to agriculture, the most important pillar of Pakistan’s economy.
Aid groups have struggled all along to raise funds to help Pakistan. With the disaster unfolding relatively slowly, and the number killed low compared to other major disasters such as the Haiti earthquake, experts said many countries and donors did not immediately realize the magnitude of the disaster.
The UN has appealed for just over $2 billion to help Pakistan’s emergency relief and early recovery, but has received only about one-third of that.