Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Pakistan flood impact exacerbated by corruption


The floods that have devastated parts of Pakistan over the last few weeks are not the worst in the country's history, according to experts interviewed by the Express Tribune.
"Water levels in Sindh rose to similar high floods in 1992 and 1976 but the impact was not as huge. This time, flooding has been exacerbated only due to decades of government corruption and neglect”, says irrigation expert Idrees Rajput, a former member of the Sindh government.
Another expert, Arshad H Abbasi, says that Pakistan's Federal Flood Commission has misused funds and approved and executed water control projects only on paper.
The article notes that in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa's worst-hit districts, Nowshera and Charsadda, the FFC claims it carried out projects worth Rs27.3 million in 2007-8 and Rs53 million in 2008-9, which were allegedly 92 per cent complete before the floods. However, local people say they cannot even identify the projects on the ground, despite the existence of official documentation. The chief minister in the Punjab has also recently inspected bogus projects in South Punjab.
The FFC told the Express Tribune that it is not an executing body, but simply provides funds to the provinces based on paperwork. "Our role is to facilitate the provinces, approve their schemes and provide funds to the respective irrigation department officials in each province”, FFC chairman Zarar Aslam told the Express Tribune. He said the FFC had no funds for monitoring the implementation of projects.
However, his organisation has come in for criticism with allegations from Transparency International Pakistan that 60-70 per cent of more than $1 billion in foreign aid for flood defence work has been embezzled. However Syed Adil Gilani, chairman of TIP, said last week that fear of misuse of funds should not halt humanitarian aid to Pakistan.

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