Pakistan Flood: Corruption Fears of Aid for Victims

20 December 2022

In October, one-third of Pakistan was submerged under water affecting around 33 million people including 10 million children. Approximately 4 million acres of crops were wiped out leading to calls for lifesaving aid for the shattered country.

The death toll is estimated at around 1,700 making it the second deadliest flood in Pakistan’s history just after the 2010 flood that killed 2,000. An additional almost 13,000 people were injured.  

Furthermore, “hundreds of thousands of homes have been damaged or destroyed, while many public health facilities, water systems and schools have been destroyed or damaged. Young children are living out in the open with their families, with no drinking water, no food, and no livelihood, exposed to a wide range of new flood-related risks and hazards, including damaged buildings and drowning in floodwaters,” UNICEF warned.

The floods were followed by an outpour of global aid. Multiple international organisations and United Nations agencies have donated US$3 million, the U.K. US$ 26 million, and China US$ 90 million

Türkiye donated 25,000 tents, 409,000 food packages, 38,000 blankets, beds, and pillows, and 2.2 million pieces of medical equipment. In addition, Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD) initiated a donation drive for household items.

Is Aid Reaching Flood Victims?

Amidst the country’s continued struggle against the flood, reports are emerging of “corruption and looting” of aid. 

In September, reports emerged claiming the involvement of Pakistani government officials in the corruption of aid in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. According to the Coordinator to the Chief Minister of Gilgit Baltistan, Sabir Hussain, two trucks of relief items donated by China were looted, Times Now reports.

The same month, on the other side of the country in Balochistan, protestors gathered outside the local government office with banners alleging corruption of aid. According to protesters, local officials distributed items to close associates and influential people in the area instead of the flood-affected families.

Despite massive financial assistance from all over the world, flood victims are still in need of support. Of the US$ 160 million of total aid pledged, only US$ 38.35 million has materialised into on-the-ground relief efforts, according to Julien Harneis, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator as reported by local media.

Residents of the most-affected areas are furious and desperate. Qurban Ali in the Kambar-Shahdadkot region of Sindh province said, “[p]eople are dying [and] hungry. Why is the government doing this to us?” No aid was provided yet he added at the time. 

Last year, Pakistan dropped 16 spots on the Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International ranking 140 out of 180 countries. 

Asked about the allegations spokesperson Ned Price at the U.S. State Department stated, “[t]his is something we take very seriously, not only in Pakistan but anywhere around the world where American taxpayer dollars are implicated and when there is an urgent humanitarian interest at stake.” He followed by outlining the monitoring and tracking mechanism in place in Pakistan for the US$ 56.6 million in U.S. aid.

Resulting the corruption reports, Pakistan digitised flood relief aid and its distribution. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif instructed the launch of the Digital Flood Dashboard and a financial audit by the Accountant General Pakistan Revenue.

In Sindh province, a new committee was formed in the anti-corruption department. “The report will carry details of how much aid was distributed and the name responsible for it in each district,” deputy director Jamshoro Javed Ahmed said.

Past disasters also saw corruption allegations. An investigation into aid spending after the 2010 flood “revealed fraud to the tune of $220,000 through false invoices and manipulation of cheques”. And after an earthquake in 2005 that killed 100,000 the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority “was accused of misusing 60 per cent of the relief funds.”

It is to be seen if the new measures are sufficient to prevent misuse of aid and all support reaches the families affected by past and future disasters.

Article by Fatima Abuzar.
Editing by Anrike Visser.

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