Swifter response

With climate change beginning to bite ever so awkwardly close to the bone, Pakistan and other vulnerable states find themselves in an unenviable position as droughts and other weather-inspired crises become a little more frequent and threaten more lives. The country is one of two (the other being Zimbabwe chosen by a coalition of international relief groups to try out a new financing facility to enable a quicker and more integrated response to droughts — which in most cases is only noticed months after such a disaster has engulfed the area). By the time a humanitarian appeal goes out for the drought victims neither the response nor the funds are adequate enough to deal with the scale and magnitude of the disaster. By that time procrastination usually sets in, triggering delays in humanitarian assistance and increasing the suffering in those countries. The drought financing facility devised by the Start Network aims to change that. It is focused on saving more lives and assets.

The National Disaster Management Authority has already signed up for the Start partnership. It is keen to test the facility in water-scarce Sindh where tens of thousands of people are battling the prospect of drought. Inhabitants of the southern province routinely face nutritional problems borne out of chronic food shortages. The situation has been more acute in Tharparkar district. But malnutrition is a national problem, spread somewhat unevenly across the country. According to the World Food Programme, nearly 60 per cent of the country’s population is malnourished.

Development experts believe the Start Network project has a lot of potential and could bring a vast improvement in the lives of the drought-hit communities in Pakistan and elsewhere. In time, the facility could be expanded to include drought impacts on livestock and crops or could possibly be used even for floods.

Editorial. Swifter response. The Express Tribune, June 13, 2017.

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