Pakistan as Problem Child: After Floods, Why Aid Has Been Slow

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.

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