Pakistan needs more than $10 billion to repair and rebuild infrastructure damaged by monsoon rains that have caused devastating flooding, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said on Tuesday.

“Massive damage has been caused to infrastructure — especially in the areas of telecommunications, roads, agriculture and livelihoods,” he told AFP.

Iqbal’s statements are a reiteration of an assessment he shared with Reuters a day earlier, where he said he believed that the cost of the damage caused by floods would be “huge”.

“So far, [a] very early, preliminary estimate is that it is big, it is higher than $10 billion,” Iqbal said, adding that there was damage to almost nearly one million houses”.

“People have actually lost their complete livelihoods,” he continued, rating
the recent floods worst than those that hit Pakistan in 2010.

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

Read: The roadmap for response to flood emergency

Separately, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail has also estimated that the economic impact of floods would be at least $10bn, which roughly translates to three per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.

The estimates have come as Pakistan reels from the impact of torrential rains and unprecedented floods, which have claimed over 1,000 lives, affected more than 33 million — almost 15pc of the country’s 220m population — people and submerged most of the country.

Moreover, the country faces an imminent food security crisis, with crops damaged on a large scale and livestock swept away.

COAS in Swat

Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is visiting flood-affected areas in Swat today to get briefing about about evacuation and relief operations in Kumrat, Kalam and surrounding areas, according to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

The statement from the military’s public affairs wing said the army had been despatching relief goods to affected areas while more than 50 medical camps had been established in flood-hit districts.

The ISPR said Canada, Azerbaijan and UK had also pledged $5 million, $1.2m and £1.5m in aid, respectively.

Destruction in Sindh

According to a Dawn report, of all the provinces, Sindh, in particular, has suffered damages of over $1.6bn (Rs355bn) as all major crops have been destroyed.

While a survey and mapping at the national level for assessing the flood damage is yet to be carried out, Adviser to the Sindh Chief Minister on Agriculture Manzoor Wassan told Dawn that heavy rains had destroyed cotton, rice, and date crops, causing a loss of Rs109.347bn in the province.

“Besides, chilli and other crops have also been destroyed by rain,” he added.

Wasan said almost the entire cotton crop standing on over 1.4 million acres, rice standing on 602,120 acres and dates on 101,379 acres had been destroyed.

“Almost 50pc of the sugarcane crop on 729,582 acres has also been damaged,” he said, adding that almost 50pc of sesame, tomato, chilli, Kharif vegetables and onion crops had also been destroyed.

To a question, he said that there would be a great deal of difficulty in sowing wheat, which was due in the next two months. “The flood water is not expected to be completely drained out of the farmers’ fields in two months,” he explained.

Wasan further said in order to compensate farmers struggling in the face of the devastation caused for floods and rains, revenue charges (abiana) would be waived for Kharif season 2022, the possibility of giving date growers case compensation at 50pc of their crop value and a compensation package for the rest of the crops might be announced on a 50pc input cost basis.

To a question, he said that agricultural loans provided to the growers during Kharif 2022 in rain-affected areas might be rescheduled and the interest on the loans might be waived.

To mitigate food shortfalls, Miftah Ismail has said the country could consider importing vegetables from India.

‘World has an obligation to help Pakistan’

Meanwhile, the federal government has decided to form a National Flood Response and Coordination Centre to provide a proper institutional response to the calamity, which will comprise federal ministers, representatives of the armed forces, chief ministers and experts.

Editorial: It’s unfair that our people are paying the price for damage wreaked on climate by rich nations

Pakistan has appealed for international help and some countries have already sent in supplies and rescue teams.

For its part, the United Nations will launch a $161 million ‘flash appeal’ today to provide critical food and cash assistance to Pakistan in the wake of unprecedented floods.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari 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 told Reuters that 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 the Asian Development Bank.

Iqbal also said the world owed Pakistan, which was a victim of climate change caused by the “irresponsible development of the developed world.” The world had an obligation to help Pakistan cope with the effects of man-made climate change, he said.

“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,” he said.

“Those areas which used to receive rainfall aren’t receiving rainfall and those areas which used to receive very mild rains are receiving very heavy rainfall,” he added.

Iqbal said 45pc 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 as well as vegetable and fruit crops.

Pakistan’s finance ministry in its latest economic outlook update has warned of the impact on critical seasonal crops, particularly cotton, which is key for Pakistan’s textile sector that makes up more than 60pc of the country’s exports.

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