KARACHI: Chairman PPP & Foreign Minister of Pakistan Bilawal Bhutto Zardari addressing the ‘Resilient Sindh: From Pledges to Reconstruction’ conference demanded the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to soften its conditions for the bail-out package so that the flood victims of Pakistan could be protected from the spiral of price hike’. “Our people have already been drowned by floods and heavy rains and they cannot afford to be drowned again in the flood of price hikes”, the Foreign Minister expressed. As a follow-up to the January 9, Geneva conference on ‘Climate Resilient Pakistan’ the Sindh government organized a high-powered conference on ‘Resilient Sindh: From Pledges to Reconstruction’ to harness international and local support for the people of its province in the aftermath of the devastating floods here at a local hotel on Wednesday.Bilawal Bhutto said that the federal government was negotiating with the IMF for its programme in the federal capital while thisResilient Sindh’ Conference was taking place in Karachi. “Our people have suffered a lot at the hands of heavy floods and unprecedented rains”. Chairman PPP further added: “Their standing crops have been washed away and despite tiresome efforts, they have not been able to prepare their lands for the rabi crop and may not be able to make their flooded lands so fit for the upcoming Kharif crop.” He further mentioned that in such a state of affairs, they could not be further pushed into the spiral of price hikes. Mr. Bhutto Zardari urged the IMF to offer the same conditions to the people of Pakistan as it had offered to various other nations during the COVID-19 pandemic.Housing Project: Talking about the housing project, Bilawal Bhutto directed Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to award ownership rights to the affected people who had lost their houses in the floods. “I would urge you [the CM] to transfer the ownership rights of the houses in the name of the women of the houses so that they could obtain house purchase or other loans to start their business,” he said and added this would improve their livelihood and create economic activities. Conference: As per the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment report presented at the conference, Sindh has been at the receiving end of about 61 percent of the total damages and 75 percent of the total losses due to the floods. The Sindh government, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), organized a comprehensive consultative conference to identify and concretize avenues for collaboration for a post-flood sustainable recovery in a climate-resilient manner. The unprecedented climate-induced disaster in Pakistan, especially Sindh, since June 2022 has wreaked havoc. With 24 out of the 30 districts in Sindh being declared ‘calamity-hit’, the recent floods have affected every conceivable facet of life. The Floods have affected more than 12.4 million people in the province, with more than 814 lives lost as well as over 2 million housing units impacted, and over 450,000 livestock perished. About 20,000 schools have been damaged and more than a thousand health facilities have been affected. Estimates suggest the provincial poverty rate may increase, pushing an additional 5 million people below the poverty line with over 4.3 million additional people facing the threat of food insecurity. The disaster is disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable segments of the population.  The Conference was centered on bringing together multiple stakeholders from various sectors to synergize efforts for resilient recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of Sindh. The Sindh government presented a ‘Strategic Action Plan’ to delineate its strategic priorities and implementation plans across the priority sectors of Irrigation Systems, Housing and Community Facilities, Roads Infrastructure, Livelihood, Health, Education, and Human Impact.  The conference also included the launch of the ‘Sindh People’s Housing for Flood Affectees’ Program for reconstructing 2.1 million houses which encompassed real-time disbursements to initial beneficiaries. MoUs were also signed with implementing partners, including HANDS, TRDP, NRSP, SRSO, and SAFCO. The prominent participants of the Resilient Sindh Conference included Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Mr. Murad Ali Shah, UN Resident Coordinator, UNDP Resident Representative, World Bank Country Director, Asian Development Bank Country Director, members of the Provincial Cabinet, Ambassadors, Diplomats, leaders of the private sectors, other multilateral development partners and Civil Society Organizations. Presentations were made by the Chief Secretary, Chairman P&D Board, Additional Chief Secretary (Local Government), and Secretary (I&C) SGA&C Department of the provincial government. The Participants were briefed on the Sindh government’s Priority, List of Potential Projects, Governance Mechanisms, Joint Survey for Housing Damages, and Implementation Framework of the Government’s Housing Project.The conference was a resounding success, with Pledges for the recovery and reconstruction of Sindh, in addition to the previous pledges at Geneva Conference. Contributions were pledged from the Indus Hospital Network, Bank Al-Falah, and Human Development Foundation. Remarks were made by the representatives of Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (UK), USAID, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Islamic Development Bank, International Finance Corporation, International Organization for Migration, UNODC, WHO, FAO, Agha Khan Agency for Habitat, UNICEF, and UNFPA.Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari lauded the efforts undertaken by the Government of Sindh for arranging a very beneficial and compelling conference. Mr. Bilawal also lauded the efforts of the Government and Partners in working tirelessly for resilient recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of the province.    Sindh CM Syed Murad Ali Shah thanked the attendees for taking the time to participate in the discourse for a resilient Sindh in the aftermath of the climate catastrophe and the debilitating impact of the disaster.Mr. Shah said that his special gratitude went to the World Bank Group which has been very forthcoming in its efforts to support his government and all the development partners and countries that have come forward in this hour of need and have made commendable pledges during the Geneva Conference. Mr. Knut Ostby, Resident Representative UNDP speaking on the occasion said that without adaptation and resilience, hard-won gains in poverty reduction, food security, gender empowerment, access to quality education and other SDG goals would be derailed. The UNDP is committed to supporting the design and delivery of ambitious climate change initiatives that pave the way toward a more sustainable world for all. To support the people and the Government of Sindh to build forward better, UNDP’s Flood Recovery Programme focuses on housing and community infrastructure; livelihoods recovery; restoring government services; and disaster resilience and environmental protection. Gender equality and climate resilience are key parts of our programme.


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