Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Estimated flood damage to Pakistan is $9.5 billion

Nahal Toosi in the Associated Press: International lenders are estimating that this summer's floods caused $9.5 billion in damage to Pakistan's infrastructure, agriculture and other sectors, a government official said Wednesday. The estimate, drafted by the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank in consultation with Pakistani leaders, underscores the financial challenges facing Pakistan, a U.S.-allied nation that is battling an Islamist insurgency and was relying on international loans before the deluge.

…The $9.5 billion figure refers only to existing values of roads, buildings, irrigation systems and other devastated sectors that were evaluated nationwide, not what it will cost to replace them, said the government official familiar with the report.

The replacement costs will depend on which projects the government chooses to pursue and whether it wants to rebuild certain structures in the same fashion or better, he said. The official requested anonymity because the draft findings have yet to be officially released.

The floods began in late July during unusually heavy monsoon rains, eventually covering one-fifth of the country and affecting some 20 million of its 175 million people. Nearly 2,000 people died, while millions were left homeless, according to the United Nations.

Dozens of bridges were washed away, while more than 1.9 million homes were damaged or destroyed. Around 5.9 million acres (2.4 million hectares) of farmland were damaged, a severe blow to agriculture, the most important pillar of Pakistan's economy. Even as nearly all of the people displaced in the northwest have returned to their homes — or what's left of them — parts of southern Sindh province are still under water….

A bridge in Pakistan destroyed by floodwaters, August 13 shot by Paul Duncan of the US Marine Corps

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