Canada will give another $25 million to help Pakistan recover from devastating floods and become more resilient to climate change, International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan announced this week.

Pakistan experienced unprecedented rains and devastating floods starting in mid-June 2022 that caused more than 1,700 deaths and affected the lives of one in seven people across the country. The extreme weather destroyed homes, schools, health-care facilities, roads and other critical infrastructure.

The Canadian government announced $5 million to help Pakistan cope with the floods’ impacts in late August. At the time, the International Development and Relief Foundation (IDRF), a Toronto-based non-profit that works to establish relief programs for vulnerable populations, insisted that number should be 10 times higher. This is in part because Pakistan is being affected by climate change despite being responsible for less than one per cent of the world’s planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. In mid-September, an additional $25 million and a donation-matching fund were announced.

This latest announcement brings the total Canada has committed to helping Pakistan address the floods to $58 million, with $7.5 million coming from matching donations.

The record-breaking floods also killed over 1.2 million livestock and washed away crops, affecting people’s livelihoods and taking lives. At the start of 2023, up to “four million children were still living near contaminated and stagnant floodwaters, risking their survival and well-being,” according to UNICEF.

“Canada is committed to helping the people of Pakistan as they continue to recover from the widespread devastation caused by the country’s worst floods in recent history,” Sajjan said in the news release. “Because climate change is affecting the frequency, duration and intensity of weather events worldwide, it is essential that we support countries working to adapt to climate change and become more climate-resilient so that they are better prepared for these events and to lessen the events’ impact on communities and individuals.”

An estimated $16.3 billion is needed to respond to the flooding. On Jan. 9, the international community pledged over $9 billion in support for Pakistan at the International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan in Geneva, Switzerland.

Developing countries have long pushed their wealthy counterparts to provide money to help them adapt to the ongoing climate crisis given they are the most impacted but least responsible for climate change. At the United Nations climate conference in Egypt last November, countries agreed to create a new fund to ensure developed countries with high greenhouse gas emissions will compensate vulnerable countries suffering from climate impacts.

The Red Cross says about 33 million people in Pakistan — just five million shy of Canada’s population — have been impacted by the floods.

Canada pledges another $25 million to help Pakistan cope with aftermath of devastating floods and adapt to climate change. This brings the total of funds dedicated to helping Pakistan to $58 million. #cdnpoli #PakistanFloods

The latest $25 million is a welcome announcement, said Elyas Burney, program lead for national and international initiatives at IDRF.

“Now all international actors need to invest in Pakistan to support those people long term because it's gonna be a very long-term rebuilding process,” Burney told Canada’s National Observer in a phone interview.

“Year over year, we can't abandon the people of Pakistan. We need to stay invested, work with other countries, work with (the United Nations and) other (international) institutions to ensure that we work collectively to make sure their needs are met.”

He also noted this process must include local Pakistani organizations.

Moving forward, the focus must be on the longer-term issues, particularly infrastructure like health care, education and living solutions, said Burney.

— With files from The Associated Press

Natasha Bulowski / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer

Updates and corrections

| Corrections policy
January 11, 2023, 12:25 pm

This article has been updated to include the need for governments to work with local Pakistani organizations. It was updated again on Jan. 12 to clarify the breakdown of funds for flood relief in Pakistan included $7.5 million from donation matching.

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