Pakistan warns flood damage will exceed $10 billion

Watch the full CNBC interview with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

Pakistan’s foreign minister has called for urgent international aid, with the death toll from historic flooding across the country expected to rise in the coming days.

Already reeling from the economic crisis, floodwaters have engulfed More than a third of the country is under water, killing more than 1,000 people and affecting 33 million.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the country’s foreign minister, told CNBC’s Dan Murphy on Thursday that he fears natural disaster damage will exceed current estimates of $10 billion, adding that the disaster The crisis in the country is still ongoing and is in the “rescue and relief phase”. ”

The flood, which Bhutto Zardari told CNBC was “a climate disaster of biblical proportions,” covers more than 95,000 square miles of land. Bhutto Zardari said the crisis is far from over, as “southern areas of Pakistan are still struggling with floods that have swept through the rivers from the north.”

“At this point, Pakistan is paying with its life and livelihood for a climate disaster not of its own making,” he said. Pakistan’s contribution to global carbon emissions is less than 1%but it is among the 10 countries most affected by climate change in the world.

The South Asian country of more than 220 million people reported an inflation rate of 27% in August, according to government data, and was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Its currency has appreciated while its net foreign exchange reserves are reduced to only 8 billion dollars in August, according to the State Bank of Pakistan.

Rural areas in Pakistan have been hardest hit by floods.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | beautiful pictures

Political infighting has raged across the country since April, after former Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted, who was charged by Pakistani police under anti-terrorism laws.

Food inflation impact

Rural areas in Pakistan have been hit hardest by flooding, which will have a dual impact on Pakistan’s agricultural sector, and ultimately on food costs.

Bhutto Zardari told CNBC “about 80 to 90%” of Pakistan’s crops have been damaged by the floods. The International Rescue Committee reported that 4 million acres of crops were destroyed with 800,000 livestock killed.

Before the disaster, food inflation was much higher in rural provinces than in urban areas. For example, Operating costs in urban areas of Pakistan increased by 89% from July 2021 to July 2022. In rural areas, that cost increased by up to 100%.

The International Monetary Fund on Monday approved the issuance 1.1 billion dollars came to Pakistan in special drawing rights, part of a relief program starting from 2019.

The money was already part of a relief program aimed at helping Pakistan stabilize its economy. Pakistan has now filed a joint appeal with the United Nations for about $160 million, which Bhutto Zardari told CNBC “is clearly a very conservative estimate of the bare minimum requirements at this point.”

More than a million homes have been destroyed and Bhutto Zardari added that critical infrastructure such as bridges, road networks and dams have been damaged. In the future, he said, Pakistan will need “large-scale reconstruction, which requires a lot of work.”

Residential area flooded after heavy monsoon rains in Dera Allah Yar town in Jaffarabad district, Balochistan province.

Fida Hussain | Afp | beautiful pictures

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