Devastating floods hit Pakistan last June, submerging one-third of the country in water and affecting 33 million people. More than 1,700 lives were lost and over 2.2 million houses damaged or destroyed.
In the aftermath of the disaster, CARE International and its partners delivered immediate, life-saving assistance such as temporary housing, food, and access to clean water. Now, the country reckons with the flooding’s wide reaching impacts on the economy, ecosystems and food supply which will take years, and an estimated US $16 billion, to recover from - and a Floods Response Plan which is only 45% funded by the international community.
This gap between needs and funding – felt by all developing countries impacted by climate change - underscores why urgent action must be taken to operationalise the new ‘Loss and Damage’ fund by COP28 this November.
Responding to the needs of most vulnerable
Image © Fawad Ali/CARE Pakistan: Distributing emergency supplies in Pakistan
In the aftermath of the flooding, CARE International - through funding from the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) - delivered immediate humanitarian assistance in partnership with Thardeep Rural Development Program (TRDP), a national NGO. Together, CARE and TRDP carried out an evaluation of local community needs to ensure the emergency response reached the most vulnerable people.
For Lakshmi, 35, this support has been invaluable. She lives with her five children, her parents in-law and brother in-law. Her husband, who died in 2022, was a farmer and worked on private land where Lakshmi helped him to sow and harvest crops. In the aftermath of the floods, CARE supported Lakshmi and her family through access to shelter, food and hygiene kits.
However, in areas like Sindh Province, where Lakshmi is from, communities are heavily reliant on agriculture and farming to earn a living. Sindh Province accounts for 42% of rice production, 23% of cotton production, and 31% of sugarcane production nationwide: the floods destroyed an estimated 80% of the expected total rice production alone, and losses from these three crops combined are estimated at US $1.3 billion. This had an immediate impact on people like Lakshmi, who speaking last autumn said:
Floods devastated our livelihoods after destroying the agricultural fields and killing our livestock. Now the winter season is here, and we cannot purchase warm clothes for our children.”
Spotlight on international community to deliver on Loss and Damage
Although this type of humanitarian response is vital, new and additional funding is needed to address the rising impacts of climate change. At last year’s COP27, countries came to a major agreement on the creation of a Loss and Damage fund. The fund will support developing countries like Pakistan who are disproportionately impacted by the destruction caused by climate change. Pakistan was a leading voice in the call for this fund, alongside many other vulnerable countries who bear the brunt of climate impacts but have historically produced the least emissions.
Negotiations are now underway to hammer out key aspects of the fund - who pays into it, who receives finance and what types of interventions will be eligible. It is crucial that governments meet their commitment to agree on how it will be operationalised and have new sources of funding available by COP28. It’s also crucial that the negotiations are open and transparent, with genuine opportunities for civil society to participate and help shape the fund itself.
Inaction on loss and damage will worsen humanitarian needs in already vulnerable countries, with impacts on peace and security which could spill over regionally and globally. And for vulnerable people like Lakshmi, it will mean yet more time spent waiting on financial support to deal with climate impacts – which is time they cannot afford.
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Main image © Maryam Imtiaz/CARE