Today is the official International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, organised every year to raise awareness about what we can all do to reduce our risk to disasters. The current situation in Pakistan has once again highlighted the consequences of insufficient investment and priority given to disaster risk reduction (DRR).
For the second consecutive year, floods in Pakistan (in late August) have emphasised the country’s vulnerability and lack of capacity to prepare effectively for events of this scale. The floods have had a devastating impact on infrastructure, public assets, livelihoods and the country’s economy. The World Food Programme reports that 5.4 million people were affected this time, 73% of the harvest was destroyed, and 36% of livestock killed in the flooded areas. In June of this year, the Federal Finance Minister announced that the cost of reconstruction, after the July 2010 floods, would be in the region of US$43 billion, and the latest disaster will put further strain on national budgets (Oxfam: Pakistan’s resistance to disasters one year on from the floods). The floods in Pakistan demonstrate the need for the government and donors to increase investments in activities to reduce risk, such as effective early warning systems, flood control, resilient housing and better planning.
Pakistan was the eighth largest recipient of humanitarian aid in the last ten years, receiving a total of US$2.4 billion between 2000-2009. The requirement for aid will increase following the recent floods. While levels of humanitarian and development aid have been high, funding for disaster preparedness and DRR appear to be nominal.
Quantifying overall DRR investments in Pakistan within the existing data is challenging. The figures extracted for this tracking exercise do not include funding from national governments, civil society and the private sector, nor do they include contributions from many potentially influential donors to Pakistan, such as India. As is stands, methods of donor DRR reporting are often inconsistent with other reported activities.
Currently financial support to DRR and preparedness in Pakistan can be examined using publicly available data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC)’s database. While DRR predominately falls within the remit of development departments, in many cases programmes are financed from humanitarian budgets and coordinated by humanitarian aid departments, and are tied to response and early recovery programmes. Thus, investments in DRR can be extracted from preparedness funding within humanitarian financing.
The data supports the case that investments in DRR have been sparse and expenditure on disaster preparedness has not been a priority for Pakistan. Between 2005 and 2009 US$15.6 million for disaster preparedness was reported through the DAC, accounting for just 1% of Pakistan’s total official humanitarian assistance. While this indicates the relatively low priority given to DRR, it only accounts for preparedness funding within humanitarian aid.
In order to calculate the total amount spent on DRR in Pakistan, activities hidden within wider development programmes and projects must be considered, including those relating to food security, health systems and environmental management. Widening the lens and examining funding reported towards wider development programmes reveals further funding for DRR in Pakistan.
Pakistan has received nearly US$800 million over five years for DRR, 71% of which was allocated in 2006. The majority of this funding went towards cross-sector World Bank development programmes tied in with reconstruction efforts after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake (US$530 million in 2006 and US$202 million in 2007). With the exception of 2006 (23%) and 2007 (9%) investments in DRR have accounted for less than 0.5% of total official aid. Very little of this money appears to have been spent on either early warning systems or flood prevention and control.
Through NGOs and global initiatives such as the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), DRR has gained increasing international prominence and recognition for being a vital means of reducing the impact of natural disasters, preventing humanitarian crisis and ensuring long-term sustainable development. Many government donors now acknowledge the need for a comprehensive and strategic approach which encompasses preparedness and prevention strategies and have developed strategies for implementing and financing DRR within their aid programmes. More and more governments are recognising the need to create and invest in effective disaster management frameworks and institutions. At the national level there have been a number of positive examples of joint efforts to generate funding for, and improve the coordination of, disaster preparedness and risk reduction through consortiums, such as those successfully underway in Indonesia and Nepal.
However, for countries like Pakistan, investments in DRR from donors have so far been minimal. While there have been some positive moves to improve disaster management in Pakistan the catastrophic consequences of the recent flooding suggests that much more needs to be done, and done quickly.
It is widely agreed that there is a need for better investment in DRR to reduce the impact of events such as the devastating floods in Pakistan in the last two years. There is also an evident need to improve the current reporting of DRR if there is to be clarity around what resources are available, which is essential for effective planning and allocation, and monitoring of investments.