Battered by the unprecedented floods, cash-strapped Pakistan is looking for additional funds to rebuild the country after the natural disaster pushed its economy to the brink.
“We are not asking for any kind of measure [such as] a rescheduling or a moratorium,” Pakistan Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif told the Financial Times.
“We are asking for additional funds.” Sharif said at his home in Model Town, Lahore said, “There is a very serious gap — and is widening by the day between our demands and what we have received.”
The Pakistan prime minister admitted that public dissatisfaction can lead to deeper political instability if the government fails to achieve “basic requirements and goals”.
“We are obviously concerned because if there is dissatisfaction leading to deeper political instability and we are not able to achieve our basic requirements and goals, this can obviously lead to serious problems,” Sharif told FT.
Media reports say that Pakistan is staring at a possible food crisis as the production of wheat in the upcoming Rabi season is expected to drop owing to low-profit margins that are forcing farmers to look out for alternative crops.
The Dawn newspaper reported that the country’s wheat cultivation area decreased by 2.1 per cent to 8,976,000 hectares during 2021-22. A year earlier, the area was 9,168,000 hectares.
Additionally, the production also decreased by 3.9 per cent to 26.394 million tonnes.
The current floods have aggravated food insecurity and malnutrition in flood-affected areas, according to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
An estimated 14.6 million people require emergency food assistance from December through March 2023, representing an increase of more than 100 per cent of the pre-flood estimate.
This includes 4 million people in Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Phase 4 (emergency).
In addition, rising inflation and significant damage to irrigation systems are expected to deteriorate the food security situation.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the price of wheat and other basic food items reached near-record levels in August 2022.
With the loss of livelihoods and income, families are resorting to negative coping strategies. The multi-sector rapid needs assessments (RNA) findings indicated a significant loss in livestock, crops and orchards.
Some 31 per cent of livestock holders have lost at least one animal/poultry due to floods, with the highest proportion in Sindh (44 per cent) followed by Punjab (35per cent) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (25per cent).
Floods damaged an additional 70 per cent of crops/vegetable areas and around 30 per cent of orchard areas in affected districts.
As of October 14, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has recorded over 1,718 deaths and more than 12,800 injuries since mid-June.