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More U.S. Aid Comes in Response to Pakistan’s Flood Needs
By Stephen Kaufman
Staff Writer
Washington — The most recent pledge of U.S. flood relief assistance for Pakistan, which includes a new $75 million commitment, is targeting the country’s food and agricultural sector, which was heavily damaged by flood waters that have washed out fields, livestock, seeds and farming implements only weeks ahead of Pakistan’s wheat-planting season.
At a meeting at the United Nations September 19, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the United States has now provided approximately $345 million in governmental assistance to Pakistan.
“This money has gone to relief and early recovery efforts, along with in-kind contributions and the very important rescue work that our American military has done in rescuing 15,000 people and providing 7 million pounds of relief supplies,” Clinton said.
Heavy monsoon rains that began in July left one-fifth of Pakistan flooded, killing 1,781 people and affecting approximately 21 million, many of whom are in urgent need of emergency food, water, shelter and health assistance. The Pakistan flooding has affected more people than the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the 2005 Pakistan earthquake and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami combined.
Even as emergency aid continues to arrive from the United States and elsewhere, Clinton said Pakistan’s eventual recovery and reconstruction will take a long time and will require it to closely coordinate with the international community.
“As the waters recede, the people of Pakistan must know that they will not be alone. They can count on my country and on the international community to stand with them, but we must better coordinate our efforts, we must be very mindful of what Pakistan tells us its needs are, we must make sure we are well organized in delivering the aid that we are gathering here today and in days and weeks ahead,” she said.
The United States will “follow Pakistan’s lead,” the secretary said, and is looking to Pakistani authorities to shape a strategy that best reflects the needs of their people. Clinton added that she is encouraged by Pakistani efforts to improve self-sufficiency by instituting economic and tax reforms, and noted that ahead of flood-reconstruction efforts, the Pakistani government is trying to raise domestic revenues and implement new energy policies, as well as establish “a structure to bring transparency, oversight and accountability to the reconstruction.”
Clinton also said she has been encouraged by U.S. private sector donations to the Pakistan Relief Fund ( ), launched by the State Department in August.
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah told reporters September 20 that the $345 million of U.S. assistance comes after the Obama administration gave an additional $75 million as a direct response to a food assistance appeal by the head of Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority, Lieutenant General Nadeem Ahmad, at the September 19 U.N. meeting
The $75 million “will reach nearly 6 million people in terms of providing some form of food support,” Shah said.
“It’s quite clear going forward that agriculture will be one of the major priorities,” Shah said. “More than a quarter of total cropland and nearly one-third of the productive capacity of Pakistan’s agriculture has been severely affected. In many cases crops, livestock, feed stock and land are completely washed out, and we are looking at a winter wheat planting season literally over the next six to seven weeks.”
The United States is seeking to support “an early recovery strategy for agriculture,” Shah said, which includes the widespread distribution of seed and farm implements, as well as other help for farmers as they are able to return to their lands.
Ahmad asked for food assistance with strong local incentives, and the newly announced U.S. assistance is mostly targeted at local procurement, Shah said.
“Nearly $70 million of the $75 million will purchase seed from the existing food stocks in Pakistan, and that’s important to continue to make sure there are market incentives for agriculture to be successful in Pakistan in the short term, since so much of the population there will depend on that over the next several months and indeed years,” he said.
The Obama administration is also “constantly adjusting our [aid] portfolio to best meet the most immediate needs,” he said. As flood waters recede, the risks of waterborne disease such as cholera are increasing, so the United States is expanding its number of disease early-warning systems and diarrheal-treatment centers, especially those targeted to help at-risk children.
U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke said September 20 that the U.S. House of Representatives has authorized the Obama administration to redirect funding from the $7.5 billion in civilian assistance funds that were authorized by the 2009 Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act ( ).
“We had a very careful plan for Kerry-Lugar-Berman money,” such as infrastructure projects to improve the country’s water and energy sectors, Holbrooke said. But “with one-fifth of the country under water and an emergency, it’s self-evident that some of that money should be redirected into other areas.”
Holbrooke describe the September 20 U.N. meeting as “the first of three benchmark events,” as the international community turns its focus beyond immediate relief efforts to addressing Pakistan’s recovery and reconstruction needs. He and Clinton will be attending the October 14–15 meeting of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan in Brussels and the Pakistan Development Forum in Islamabad in mid-November.
By the time of the Islamabad forum, Holbrooke said, the flood waters will have receded and it will be a time to focus on reconstruction. But Holbrooke warned that the international community will not be able to pay the full costs of Pakistan’s reconstruction needs, which could cost tens of billions of dollars.
Pakistan will not likely have the money to cover the costs, Holbrooke acknowledged, but it will still need to take the lead.
“The international community will be there,” he said. “But Pakistanis know they have to do more, and how much they do remains to be seen and what the needs are remains to be seen.”
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.  Web site:
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