May 22, 2012 Leave a comment
On the cards
Flood affectees of 2010 still await monetary help in the shape of Watan Cards they were promised
By Tahir Ali
Even after almost two years since the devastating 2010 flash-floods hit the country, financial support to flood affected people – the citizens’ damage compensation programme (CDCP) – is still a long way to go as only Rs20 billion of the total payable around Rs48bn have been disbursed by April 5 this year.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has exceeded other provinces in the provision of compensation amount to the flood victims, thanks to its expertise in dealing with militancy compensation programme in the militancy-hit Malakand division and the Bajaur and Mohmand agencies.
Out of the total amount of Rs20.03bn distributed in the country so far at the rate of Rs20,000 per head per tranche, KP has distributed Rs9.06bn and almost completed the second phase while Punjab has disbursed Rs7.71bn, Sindh 2.89bn, AJK Rs0.16bn, Gilgit Baltistan Rs0.12bn and Balochistan only Rs0.065bn.
While KP accounts for 45 per cent, Punjab 38 and Sindh 14 per cent of the payment, the rest of the areas each account for less than one per cent.
KP is ahead of other provinces in the processing of Watan Cards too. Out of total 0.79mn flood-hit persons in the country, Watan Cards for 0.739mn have been processed. While in Sindh the cards of 0.14mn out of 0.164mn (or 84 percent) and in Punjab, 0.31mn off the 0.338mn cards or 92 percent have been activated, KP has processed 0.263mn cards off the total 0.276mn or over 95 percent. Balochistan has processed 3271 out of the total 3732 cards.
According to an official of KP government, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, for a flood compensation house damage was made a criterion but it was only flood support and not house compensation as that required huge funds which was beyond KP’s resources.
The government earlier had paid Rs0.4mn for a fully destroyed house and Rs0.16mn for partially destroyed one in militancy in Malakand division but the amount was mostly provided by foreign donors, which was not the case for flood compensation.
“The strategy was approved in the Council of Common Interest (CCI) meeting following the floods. While Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan went for blanket coverage of the affected districts, KP could not do so for its limited resources and, instead, it argued for limited payment after verification on the basis of complete or partial damage to houses,” said the official.
Despite remarkable success, there are allegations of political influence in the registration process of flood affected people and corrupt practices.
Though official data put the number of beneficiaries for compensation at 0.789mn and 0.275 in the country and KP respectively, a worker with a non-governmental organization during the floods, wishing anonymity, said actual flood-hit people were far less than projected.
The official said Watan Cards were even distributed amongst ‘beneficiaries’ from areas not hit by floods altogether or who hailed from those areas of the affected districts that remained safe from floods.
“The number of ‘affected people’ was increased to accommodate the lists given by political leaders. These inflated lists of ‘affected people’ put burden on the meagre financial resources as less money had now to be distributed amongst too many. This explains why the government had to slash the compensation money to Rs60,000 from the earlier pledged Rs100,000 per affected person,” he informs.
A social worker from Nowshera said that 20-30 persons from Zakhi Maiana Nowshera, whose houses were damaged by floods, haven’t been issued cards.
The official rejected the allegation of political registration saying the World Bank’s third party validation had termed the registration process fair and that’s why we were able to begin subsequent phases for compensation across the province.
“The beneficiaries were selected by a committee in each union council, comprising Patwari, teacher, elected public representative, Pak Army personnel (where available as in Swat) and local elders. Later, the PDMA submitted the compiled data to NADRA for verification. After verification, they were granted compensation through Watan Card. Later, after the third party validation by the World Bank on the basis of Phase-I survey, a list of 0.27mn recipients was generated for the payment of 2nd and 3rd tranches under CDCP- Phase-II,” says the official.
“The government and donors have tried their level best to ensure objective and accurate data, exclusion of the well-off and inclusion of legitimate flood affected people but if even then a deserving person has not been issued card during phase-I and Phase-II, he/she may submit his/her appeal at each Nadra grievances cell at Watan Card nominated centres in each district of KP.
However, some problems on the beneficiaries’ side, e.g., their fingerprints mismatched, they provided incorrect CNIC numbers, had another beneficiary in the family, had double entries or provided wrong or incomplete addresses, etc, caused delays,” he added.
As for the allegations of registering recipients from areas not affected during floods, the official explained it was because the compensation was meant both for houses that were damaged by floods and rains in July and August, 2010.
There are also problems on the development side, according to sources. “Despite commendable performance during the emergency relief and early recovery phases, the pace and quality of the third phase of development has been greatly undermined by nepotism, political intervention, mismanagement that has resulted in over-focus on certain areas, duplication in work and wastage of funds, corruption and for lack of accountability owing to the decreased focus of the media and government. And worst, the social work has become a business for many an unscrupulous people,” said the worker.
The official, however, rejected the allegations of corruption and political interference and said that the efforts have been made for transparency and to avoid any duplication of work so that resources may not be wasted. “A separate rehabilitation and reconstruction directorate in the province has also been established to ensure transparency and coordination between the development partners,’ he said.
He defended the NGOs which, he said, helped the government cope with catastrophes and therefore deserved and got every possible support. ”In the early recovery phase, local and international NGOs built makeshift transitional shelters for the flood victims but these were of no use as they started constructing their homes themselves soon after. The phase of building permanent shelters for the people later begun but the facility was mostly availed by those who weren’t hit by floods. And the poor most of the victims couldn’t get shelters as they lived on rented land and the owners/landlords didn’t allow them to have shelters built for them. The government should have allocated state lands for these people,” he added.
Out and waiting.
No end in sight
There are complaints of difficulties in receiving money from banks. Long queues of beneficiaries, including women, are seen in front of designated bank branches.
To offset this, in October 07, 2011, the state bank of Pakistan directed all commercial banks to make special arrangements to ensure that their ATMs were operational, cash was replenished in a timely manner and that no service charges were required on the use of Watan cards from the beneficiaries.
Floods inflicted a loss of around $10bn on Pakistan. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa suffered $1.2 billion losses and requires $2.2 billion for the flood reconstruction. However, foreign donor support hasn’t arrived as expected. It seems issues of transparency, poor planning, donor fatigue and indifference of local leaders to provide their due in donations are to be blamed for the phenomenon.
According to UN figures, of the $2.6bn funded – actually contributed or committed – so far by foreign countries for flood victims in Pakistan, over $372mn are still to be paid. Strangely, most of the contributions were made by Non-Muslim world and the Muslim countries lagged far behind. Amongst the top 10 donor countries, contributing around $1691mn, $1617 were given by former and only $228mn were funded by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates of which $90mn are still non-committed pledges. The USA, Japan and UK with $683mn, $301 and $224mn are the leading donor countries.