It was reported on Tuesday that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is working urgently to provide a significant relief and rehabilitation package in light of the devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan. This will be a comprehensive and phased package that will include measures for the short, medium and long term and will be designed to support people, livelihoods and infrastructure.

According to reports, for the short and medium term, the focus will be on ongoing projects to repair damaged infrastructure—including roads and irrigation—and support the development and financial stability of the agriculture sector and ward off the threat of food insecurity. In addition to this, the ADB is also processing countercyclical support to help the most vulnerable segments of society, especially women and children, cope with the impact of rising food prices and other external shocks. In the long term, the focus will be shifted towards projects that support post-flood reconstruction and strengthen climate and disaster resilience—an area where Pakistan desperately needs external assistance.

This upcoming relief package will be in addition to the $3 billion already approved by the ADB last month for the immediate purchase of essential items such as food, tents and other relief goods. While it is encouraging to see such assistance coming through, Pakistan needs a lot more support than what is being provided by multilaterals such as the World Bank or ADB. The scale of devastation is immeasurable with damages being estimated at around $30 billion—though many argue that the figure is much higher and likely to rise. Further, the number of casualties also continues to rise as according to the NDMA, the number is now at 1,559, with 15 deaths reported during the last 24 hours.

With Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif arriving in New York to participate in the United Nations General Assembly where he is expected to highlight the scale of devastation experienced in Pakistan due to climate change, it is imperative that he makes the case for a consolidated international relief plan. This plan should factor into account what Pakistan is owed by the international community as it is suffering disproportionately despite its contribution being negligible in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, and must include tangible steps such as debt restructuring or cancellation instead of mere rhetoric.