ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday launched Rs37.2 billion flood relief cash programme to disburse Rs50,000 cash assistance in two install­ments among 1.5 million affected families each in the country, particularly in Balochistan where hundreds died and infrastructure was damaged the most by floods amid heavy monsoon rains.

Fund are being given through the Benazir Income Support Programme in collabo­ration with the National Disaster Manage­ment Authority and other allied departments.

The disbursement of cash would be completed within three days as assured by the NDMA chairman to help rain-hit people afford their food and other immediate needs, said Prime Minister Sharif at the launch of the flood relief cash programme.

In the next phase, he said, a joint survey would be carried out to assess damages to crops, houses, highways and bridges in coordination with provinces to carry out the rehabilitation work. “We have allocated a sum of Rs37 billion to provide some relief to the flood victims and for that I am thankful to Finance Minister Miftah Ismail for providing the funds,” Mr Sharif said. He said heavy monsoon rains that triggered floods affected all the four provinces, with Balochistan being the worst hit.

1.5m families to be given Rs25,000 in immediate relief

Mr Sharif said: “The whole nation needs to unite to face this situation. The federal and provincial governments are also co­­op­erating with one another. Our international partners and donors are also extending their support.” In the third phase, he expl­ai­ned, the government would collaborate with international development partners to help redesign the infrastructure to prevent damages caused by floods in the future.

Beneficiaries in the Jhal Magsi area were seen through a video link at the launching ceremony receiving cash assistance. The programme has initially been laun­ched in four Balochistan districts namely Jhal Mag­si, Khuzdar, Qilla Abdullah and Lasbela.

Being one of the five countries facing the worst impact of climate change, Pakistan needed not only to support its people but also to redesign its infrastructure to avert losses in future, Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal, who also heads the flood relief committee, told the gathering.

Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Shazia Marri said the BISP would ensure cash disbursement.

NDMA chairman Lt-Gen Akhtar Nawaz said cash assistance would be disbursed across 724 union councils of the four provinces, which would be followed by compensation for the flood-caused losses.

Polio campaign

While launching a nationwide polio drive by administering vaccine to children at PM House, Mr Sharif said a polio-free Pakistan was a national goal and urged citizens to cooperate with polio teams for the complete eradication of the crippling disease.

“This is a testing time with the resurgence of recent polio cases and the related security incidents, but we can and will overcome it,” he said, calling upon federal, provincial and district administrations as well as the general public to ensure children under five years receive polio drops.

The current anti-polio campaign for Kar­achi and six districts of southern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa started on August 15, while the national polio vaccination drive is scheduled to commence on August 22.

Mr Sharif, meanwhile, also chaired a meeting of the National Task Force for Polio Eradication, and expressed government’s resolve to taking practical measures for curbing wild poliovirus transmission in Pakistan.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, federal ministers Abdul Qadir Patel and Marriyum Aurangzeb, as well as represen­ta­tives of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation attended the launch.

Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2022

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