Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pakistan's flood aid 'unspent and mismanaged'

Terra Daily via AFP: Mismanagement and misuse of cash are hampering relief efforts for Pakistan's flood victims with nearly 60 million dollars in a prime minister's fund still unspent, officials say. Catastrophic monsoon rains that swept north to south in July and August affected 21 million people, consumed entire villages, wiped out agricultural land and destroyed industries in the country's worst ever natural disaster.

Foreign donors have stumped up just half of a UN appeal target of 1.93 billion dollars, sparking fears for 6.8 million who need emergency shelter as winter sets in, while farmland could remain flooded for another six months.

But officials say efforts to rebuild 1.6 million homes are being compromised by infighting between federal and provincial authorities, and express amazement that a 58.5 million dollar prime minister's fund remains entirely unspent.

Shabbir Anwar, a spokesman for Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, said plans for the money were still being finalised as part of a national recovery plan. "The government has prepared a national strategy for rehabilitation and reconstruction. The details are being finalised by the financial division," he told AFP.

But a top Pakistani official said "malaise" at the heart of government was to blame for inaction, as thousands of families remain camped out on roadsides in makeshift tents. "Once a decision is taken at the highest level it must be done -- but it doesn't get done," he told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Huge swaths of Sindh province in the south remain underwater. From the air all that can be seen in the worst-affected parts of Dadu province are the tips of trees jutting above inland lakes….

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