Friday, October 26, 2012

Flood-hit Pakistan moves toward disaster insurance

Saleem Shaikh and Sughra Tunio in AlertNet:... Across Pakistan, families hit by three consecutive years of extreme weather disasters – particularly severe flooding and droughts – are struggling to find ways to recover from ever-more-frequent disasters. According to a report of the Federal Flood Commission, the 2010 floods, the worst in 80 years, alone claimed some 1,985 lives, and affected over 20 million people, 17,553 villages and 2 million hectares of crops.

Insurance, Pakistani officials say, may be one way of coping with the enormous social and economic consequences of such extreme weather. Zafar Iqbal Qadir, chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), based in Islamabad, said the country has hammered out a plan to create national disaster risk insurance, which aims to eventually make it mandatory for Pakistan’s entire population to be insured against disaster risks.

A pilot phase of the programme, to be implemented starting in March 2013 with funding support from the World Bank, will provide free or subsidised insurance to those judged the country’s poorest and most vulnerable. Eventually, officials hope farmers, livestock producers and others will be included as well, said Ahmad Raza Sarwar, director of the National Institute of Disaster Management. Sarwar told AlertNet that the size of the insurance premiums each person or family might pay is still being negotiated with insurance firms, as is the amount of coverage.

Details of the insurance are still being worked out among the disaster management authority, the Ministry of Climate Change, the Finance Ministry, and the Federal Economic Affairs Division, but authorities are confident it will soon be completed, said Mehmood Alam, federal secretary of the Pakistani climate change ministry....

US aid to Pakistan during the 2010 floods, US Marine Corps photo

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