Pakistan to utilize $22.2m out of WB’s $ 200m locust fund for rehabilitation of flood affectees

ISLAMABAD: Following the devastation of flood in Pakistan, the World Bank (WB) has agreed to spend the utilized fund of $ 200 million Locust Emergency and Food Security Project (LEAFS) project, for rehabilitation of flood affected farmers.

According to officials, under the new agreement Pakistan and WB have decided to utilize $22.2 million of LEAFS project as “financial support” for the rehabilitation of flood-affected farmers. 

Earlier the WB had announced a loan of $ 200 million (Rs 32.8 billion) as an emergency response to locust attack in Pakistan. The project was imperative to ensure food security, poverty alleviation and achievement of zero hunger goals. The project was being executed under National Food Security Policy (MNFS&R), National Action Plan for Surveillance and Control of Desert Locust (NAP-DL-Pak) in Pakistan and Sustainable Development Goals. According to reliable sources, the WB’s loan was not fully utilized under the same project.

According to an official, the decision about utilization of the fund for rehabilitation of flood affected farmers was made during a meeting between World Bank South Asia Regional Director for Sustainable Development John A Roome and Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Tariq Bashir Cheema in Islamabad on Thursday.

As per a statement issued by the ministry, while discussing the rehabilitation and relief efforts in flood-hit areas with reference to farmer community and food security, the WB representative said the bank will support the rehabilitation of the farming community in flood-affected districts and locus-hit areas through the LEAFS project of the World Bank.

Roome said he will also request the World Bank Group Board to increase support for Pakistan “to recover from the devastation caused by unprecedented floods”.

The bank is working with provincial agriculture departments to support the farming community, he added.

During the meeting Cheema said that floods and rains had played havoc on the agriculture sector and devastated the farming community. “At this critical time, we are only focused on rehabilitation activities in the flood-affected areas to bring back normalcy.”

He said his ministry had planned to subsidize seeds and fertilizers to support farmers badly impacted by floods.

“The federal government will provide subsidized inputs to flood-affected farmers for the upcoming Rabi season on a cost-sharing basis with the provinces. The proposed subsidy may be presented to the federal cabinet soon,” he told the meeting.

He also underlined that the government planned to provide subsidized wheat and edible oil seeds, and one fertilizer bag per acre to each farmer in the affected areas. The disbursement will be through provincial governments and NDMA, he added.

In another meeting, Cheema directed the Department of Plant Protection (DPP) to prepare a comprehensive plan to deliver the seeds and fertilizers to the flood-affected regions by the end of the month.

He also directed authorities to “rigorously inspect breeding and swarming areas to take remedial action” against locust attacks.

Pakistan has been lashed by unprecedented monsoon downpours that flooded a third of the country, an area the size of the United Kingdom and killed nearly 1,600 people, according to the National Disaster Management Authority.

Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]

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