The finance minister of Afghanistan handed over a $1 million check to the Pakistani Ambassador yesterday. For the record, that makes Afghanistan a larger donor to Pakistan flood relief efforts than France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece, and Estonia (among others). Not to judge, but is $917,431 for flood relief all that France can really afford right now?
Meanwhile, because of funding shortfalls, first responders are having a difficult time procurring basic emergency items like tents, and clean water. You hear things like this from UNICEF:
UNICEF warned today that serious funding shortfalls are jeopardising its humanitarian operation in Pakistan. UNICEF is extremely concerned at the lack of funds for its water and sanitation operation, with millions of children at risk from water-borne diseases.
“Providing clean water and adequate sanitation is key to the survival of millions of flood affected people in Pakistan. In terms of numbers of people needing life-saving assistance, this emergency is bigger than the Tsunami, Haiti, and the last Pakistan earthquake put together,” said Martin Mogwanja, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan
“UNICEF is currently providing enough clean water for 1.3 million people every day, but millions more need the same services. We urgently need to scale up the distribution of water. If we are not able to do so because of lack of funding, water-borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea and dysentery will spread and begin killing affected populations, especially children, already weak and vulnerable to disease and malnutrition”, added Mogwanja.
Maurizio Giuliano, a spokesman for the United Nations relief effort in Pakistan, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday that the biggest problem for the relief effort in much of Pakistan was not access to stricken areas but shortages of relief supplies.
For example, he said, the United Nations estimates that around two million people need tents to live in, but aid agencies have received only some 935,000. Earlier this week, Mr. Giuliano said the lack of clean water could contribute to outbreaks of potentially fatal disease, particularly among children.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization said that, of some 15 million people affected by the floods, only about 1.2 million had access to safe water supplies while, in the areas most affected by the flooding, 200 of 1,167 health facilities — including several hospitals — had been damaged.
What makes this particularly worrisome is that the UN’s $460 million appeal is only for emergency relief efforts. After the flood waters recede and the emergency phase is over, the UN will fold this emergency appeal into what is called a “consolidated appeal.” This helps to fund longer term recover efforts like like repairing farms, rebuilding roads, and resettling millions of displaced. If countries are being stingy during the emergency phase, I can only imagine how hard it will be to scrape together the funds for the consolidated appeal.