It has been more than three months since the devastating monsoon floods swept through the provinces of Khyber Paktunkhwa, Punjab and through on to Sindh and parts of Balochistan. Although I question some of rhetoric around the numbers affected and the scale of the disaster, comments that it was the disaster of the century for example, there is little question that this was an event of huge magnitude that affected many millions. At one point almost a third of the country was either under water or recovering from the flooding, with some of the areas inundated the same as those affected by the fierce fighting between government and Taliban forces in 2009.
Current funding in response to the disaster stands at just below US$2 billion.
This funding level could be deemed something of a remarkable recovery from the first few weeks of the disaster. In stark comparison to the Haiti and Tsunami disasters the response to the Pakistan flooding was initially pitiful. Ten days into the disaster the humanitarian financing was a paltry USD$200 million compared to the USD$1.6 billion received by Haiti by that time. In fact the media coverage moved quickly to replace the rather predictable focus on the chaos of coordination to this inequity of funding, an issue that surely has to have a much more prominent place in humanitarian financing. It was this attention to equity that, in a positive reverse of the much-maligned CNN affect, brought urgently needed funding to Pakistan.
Yet this seeming increasing parity is rather misleading. To date Haiti funding is more than US$3.2 billion whilst the response to the Pakistan funding has reached nearly US$1.9 billion: Pakistan has received 58% of the funding that Haiti has. However if we use those figures of affected (Haiti 3.7 million people and Pakistan 17.2 million) the inequity becomes once more pronounced. For each person affected in Pakistan US110 has been received whilst for each Haitian the figures is significantly higher, US878: the figure for Pakistan is now not 58% of Haiti but only 12.5%.
Figure 1: Humanitarian funding for major disasters, [Source: OCHA FTS]
The methodology is pretty crude but the inequities are real enough. Total funding to a country obscures continuing inequities.
Analysing the funding profile of a crisis like the Pakistan flooding remains a challenge. The tools at our disposal to analyse funding and responses to crisis remain in serious need of review. Humanitarian funding to the Tsunami, for example, did not magically spike around day 75 after the disaster. (See above graph.) Yet on that 75th day a huge US$1.3 billion of aid was reported, such as US$394 million by the American Red Cross, US$161 million from Oxfam GB and US$145 million by Catholic Relief Services, money which appears to have been raised through private donations, i.e. individual contributions from you and me. I would be greatly surprised to find out they’d all decide to commence US$1.3 billion of activities on the same day.
Central to improvements in the way we make funding decisions surely has to be the development of streamlined and systematic real-time tracking system, even one that works to tell us at the very least, who has received what money from whom, in which country and when. And this is just step one.
Pakistan Floods 2010: The Funding Profile
Perhaps the revision of the UN humanitarian appeal may help address the current inequity of financing in comparison to other major disasters. This appeal has been revised upwards from the US$459 amount originally requested to US$1.9 billion, making it the largest appeal of the year, US$400 more than Haiti. This new appeal also includes a specific focus and request for funding for early recovery. Financing for these activities, helping communities make the transition from relief to recovery still remains low, though partly because the appeal has been revised only recently. Total funding to the UN appeal following the disaster is US$946 million.
Figure 2: Current humanitarian funding in response to the Pakistan flooding, [Source: OCHA FTS]
The largest donor to the Pakistan flooding has been the United States with more than US$600 million, not as surprising as you may think given it has been number one humanitarian funder to Pakistan in eight of the last ten years. Saudi Arabia has given more than US$242 million, more than double the third and fourth placed donors (the United Kingdom and European Commission) and in itself more than four times the entire total of Saudi humanitarian aid for all countries in 2009. India is the 9th largest government donor.