As of 17 August 2010, the European Commission and 29 government donors have committed US$209 million of the US$250 million raised so far in response to the Pakistan floods (as reported through UN OCHA’s Financial Tracking Service, FTS). Whilst contributions have been dominated by donors who make up the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) such as the United States (US$97 million) and the United Kingdom (US$40 million), some donors outside of the DAC group have also formally reported significant funds through the FTS. For example, Kuwait has committed US$5 million (and India has pledged the same) making it the seventh most generous government donor after the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Denmark, Australia and Norway. Other donors include the United Arab Emirates (UAE), US$1.5 million, China, US$1.4 million and Turkey US$1.1million. In addition Azerbaijan has pledged US$1 million – nearly double the amount pledged by the Republic of Korea, which became a DAC donor in January this year.
However, the FTS does not cover all contributions for the Pakistan floods and some media sources suggest that donations from other government donors, such as Saudi Arabia, could be more substantial. An article in Arab News states that the Saudi Royal Air Force is transporting relief supplies, the Ministry of Finance is sending gifts in kind and that Saudi Arabia is “coordinating with UN organizations to distribute humanitarian and emergency relief supplies worth $100 million, which the Kingdom had earlier allocated to support victims of natural calamities in Pakistan” (Arab News). If these figures are correct then Saudi Arabia’s contributions would far exceed many individual Western donor commitments. At a time when the international community is being criticised for failing to respond quickly enough, Saudi Arabia’s aid could prove vital.
There are additional examples that demonstrate the volume and significance of contributions from Saudi Arabia compared to other government donors (and the data only covers those funds that were reported to the FTS). In 2007 Saudi Arabia gave US$158 million to Bangladesh (largely in response to Cyclone Sidr), compared to only US$20 million from the United States and US$3 million from the United Kingdom and in 2008 Saudi Arabia gave US$103 million to Yemen in response to the floods compared to US$15 million from all DAC donors. These figures highlight the importance of a variety of donors in response to specific emergencies, a variety and scale that often goes ignored by other donor governments and the media.
Above all, from the perspective of the affected person, it is not who gives the money but how and when it will arrive.