World

Pakistan flood damage estimated at $9.6B

International lenders estimate this summer's floods in Pakistan caused damage totalling $9.6 billion Cdn to the country's infrastructure, agriculture and other sectors, a government official in Islamabad says.

International lenders estimate this summer's floods in Pakistan caused damage totalling $9.6 billion Cdn to the country's infrastructure, agriculture and other sectors, a government official in Islamabad said Wednesday.

The estimate, drafted by the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank in consultation with Pakistani leaders, underscores the financial challenges facing Pakistan, a U.S.-allied nation that is battling an Islamist insurgency and was relying on international loans before the deluge.

Although other countries, including the U.S., have contributed millions to the flood relief effort, they have warned Pakistan they cannot foot the entire recovery and reconstruction bill, which some have estimated could surpass $40.44 billion Cdn.

U.S. officials, in particular, have urged Pakistan to improve its anemic tax collection to aid its long-term rebuilding.

The figure of $9.6 billion refers only to existing values of roads, buildings, irrigation systems and other devastated sectors that were evaluated nationwide, not to what it will cost to replace them, said the government official familiar with the report.

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 official requested anonymity because the draft findings have yet to be officially released.

The floods began in late July during unusually heavy monsoon rains, eventually covering one-fifth of the country and affecting some 20 million of Pakistan's 175 million people. Nearly 2,000 people died, and millions were left homeless, according to the United Nations.

Dozens of bridges were washed away, while more than 1.9 million homes were damaged or destroyed. Damage extended to about 2.4 million hectares of farmland, a severe blow to agriculture, the most important pillar of Pakistan's economy.

Even as most people displaced in the northwest have returned to their homes — or what's left of them — parts of southern Sindh province are still under water.

Aid groups have struggled all along to raise money to help Pakistan. With the disaster unfolding relatively slowly, and the number killed low compared with other major disasters such as the Haiti earthquake, experts said many countries and donors did not immediately realize the magnitude of the disaster. There also are concerns that corruption and inefficiency in Pakistan's government may lead to squandered aid.

The UN has appealed for a little more than $2 billion US to help Pakistan's emergency relief and early recovery but has received only about a third of that.

now