Monday, August 30, 2010

Urgent need for Climate Fund

Martin Khor in the Malaysia Star: The flood calamity in Pakistan has again highlighted the urgent need to set up a proper global system to help developing countries affected by climate change and natural disasters. Pakistan’s crisis worsened in the past week, as the floods which had started in the north had spread to the central and southern regions. About a million people were evacuated in southern Sindh province in the past few days as the Indus River burst its banks in several places.

...The New York Times reported: “Even as Pakistani and international relief officials scrambled to save people and property, they despaired that the nation’s worst natural calamity had ruined just about every physical strand that knit this country together – roads, bridges, schools, health clinics, electricity and communications.

“The destruction could set Pakistan back many years, if not decades, further weaken its feeble civilian administration and add to the burdens on its military.” According to The New York Times article, more than 20 million people are now affected. The government estimates that the floods have washed away 5,000 miles of roads and railways, 7,000 schools and over 400 health facilities.

Just to build about 500 miles of roads in war-ravaged Afghanistan, the United States spent US$500mil (RM1.54bil) and it took them several years. By comparison, a US aid agency spent US$200mil (RM617mil) to rebuild just 56 schools, 19 health facilities and other services since the earthquake in the Pakistani controlled portion of Kashmir in 2005.

...The Pakistan tragedy highlights the immense need for financing by developing countries to cope with extreme weather events, an increasing number of which are caused by climate change. The developed countries have committed to pay for the cost incurred by developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change under the UN Climate Convention, which was signed in 1992. However, this commitment has remained mainly on paper....

By mid-August, the extreme monsoon floods that had overwhelmed northwestern Pakistan had traveled downstream into southern Pakistan. This image, acquired by the Landsat 5 satellite on August 12, 2010, shows flooding near Kashmor, Pakistan, just before the second wave of the flood hit.

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