Analysts and aid agencies are speculating about why aid to Pakistan has been slow in the last three weeks following devastating flooding across much of the country. Their conclusion: Pakistan can’t get over its image problem.
On Aug. 11, the United Nations launched an appeal for $460 million in aid funding to help some 14 million Pakistanis affected by floodwater covering a wide swath from North to South. U.N. agencies estimate that 6 million people will need food aid in the coming weeks, and about 14 million will need emergency health care. So far, only a fifth of the funds have been pledged, and Pakistanis are getting little relief compared to victims in other disasters. Donors gave $495 per person for 2004 floods in Haiti, for example, while Pakistanis have so far garnered only $3 per person.
Analysts say the reasons appear to be manifold: the death toll has been relatively low, at around 1,400; it is hard to get information out with Pakistan being many time zones away; and the flooding has been relatively gradual. But perceptions in the West of Pakistan’s high corruption and insufficient commitment to fighting the war on terror is also playing a role, some observers say. And Pakistan has also asked for dole-outs to deal with other disasters recently, including the 2005 earthquake and 2007-09 financial meltdown. As Pakistan struggles to cope with its monsoon flooding, it looks like the recovery will stretch far into the future.