Pakistan floods: US to divert aid package to reconstruction

US plans to redirect part of its existing USD 7.5 billion aid package for Pakistan to flood reconstruction, the US aid chief said.

Updated: Aug 25, 2010, 23:14 PM IST

Islamabad: The United States plans to
redirect part of its existing USD 7.5 billion aid package for
Pakistan to flood reconstruction, the US aid chief said, but
warned that other nations would only contribute money if
Islamabad could ensure it would be well spent.

America has been the most generous contributor
after the floods, rushing in emergency assistance to support a
vital ally in the war against al-Qaeda and Taliban in its hour
of need. But rebuilding homes, roads, livelihoods and vital
infrastructure will cost billions of dollars, and there are
questions over who will pay.
Before the disaster, the US was committed to
spending USD 7.5 billion over the next five years for projects
ranging from improving schools and hospitals, building dams
and helping the country generate electricity.

Rajiv Shah, administrator of the US Agency for
International Development, said much of that package would now
be spent on flood rebuilding. Teams are still assessing the
damage to figure out the exact costs.

"That is absolutely what is required in order to
meet the needs of the Pakistani people," he told The
Associated Press in an interview late Monday.

He noted that much of the spending was already
earmarked for the energy, agricultural and water sectors, all
three of which were affected by the floods.

"If you think of just those three areas, going
forward I suspect they would be more important," he said. "I
think we will end up moving even more aggressively in that
The floods began almost a month ago with the onset
of the monsoon and have ravaged a massive swath of the
country, from the mountainous north right through its
agricultural heartland. More than 8 million people are in need
of emergency assistance.

On Monday, the United Nations said some 8,00,000
people had been cut off by the floods and were only accessible
by air. It said that 40 more heavy-lift helicopters were
urgently needed. The US military has dispatched 19 choppers so
far; the UN says it has five.

The government says about USD 800 million in
emergency aid and assistance has been committed or pledged so
far. But there are concerns internationally about how the
money will be spent by the Pakistan government, which has a
reputation for inefficiency and corruption.