ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Statistics, Planning, Development and Reform Dr Shamshad Akhtar termed National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF) as a first concrete step towards making Pakistan resilient, against natural disasters and climate change impacts.
She expressed these views during inaugural session at launching ceremony of NDRMF, held on Monday.
The event was attended by notable representatives of federal/provincial government departments and disaster management authorities, UN agencies, international donors, academicians, civil society members, NGOs, media and dignitaries from diplomatic missions.
Expressing concern over about Rs20 billion losses that Pakistan had suffered over the last few years, affecting more than 30 million people, the minister stressed the need for setting up sustainable financing system to fund risk reduction and mitigation activities in the country.
Shamshad reiterated full commitment of the government to support NDRMF and provision of additional resources to strengthen the fund’s operations to comply with international and national commitments.
“The government will also ensure that the fund carries out its activities in an efficient, transparent and coordinated manner,” she said.
She urged NDRMF to mainstream its efforts for a coherent and institutionalized DRM approach among federal, provincial, and local government institutions. She appreciated the development partners specially the Asian Development Bank (ADB), for their vital role in this strategic initiative.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) NDRMF Lt General (retd) Nadeem Ahmed gave an overview about the fund mandate, operations, thematic areas and fund linkage with National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP) and National Flood Protection Plan (NFPP-IV).
He also briefed the house, about the mechanism devised to sustain the NDRMF operational activities in order to minimize its impact on government exchequer.
“It is worth mentioning that both NDMP and NFPP-IV were developed by national and international experts to dilute the effects of disasters by strengthening the DRM system and building hazard protection infrastructures. However, due to lack of funding, these plans could not be implemented earlier. Hopefully, NDRMF will now provide the requisite funding to ensure effective implementation. ”
ADB Country Director Xiaohong Yang lauded Pakistan for its unique capacities with regards to managing diverse range of disasters and called it as potentially the best country in terms of knowledge, regulatory framework and DRM infrastructure to implement the pilot idea.
She also expressed commitment to provide an additional funding of 1 billion USD for this initiative in years 2020-2030.
The GoP had been working with number of development partners to identify opportunities and mechanism to enhance financial management of disaster risk. These initiatives resulted in establishment of multi donor NDRMF. It is a government-owned not-for-profit company with a corporate structure, incorporated with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, under Section 42 of the Companies Ordinance 1984.
The fund will also provide support in reducing the socio-economic and fiscal vulnerability of the country & its population due to natural hazards and climate change. Channelizing financial investments in DRR and preparedness segment of DM will have high positive economic impacts for the country.
The initial financing of NDRMF is through an ADB loan to the GoP, equivalent to $200.0 million and grants equivalent to $3.4 million and $1.5 million from Australian and Swiss Governments, respectively.
The government has made these funds available to NDRMF as a grant, for on-granting to eligible implementing partners both from public and private sectors. NDRMF will finance up to 70% of eligible projects cost that shall enhance Pakistan’s resilience to extreme weather events and other natural hazards.
The ceremony was followed by an ‘Orientation Workshop’ aimed to create an in-depth understating about Fund management structure and operational/organizational functionalities. The workshop reviewed accreditation criteria and project proposal guidelines in addition to detailed presentations on NDMP and NFPP-IV.
Exhaustive discussions and group work provided great learning opportunity to gain feedback and recommendations from stakeholders and fund implementation partners to further fine tune the systems and procedures of NDRMF.
On the sideline of the launching event an agreement was also signed between the Embassy of Switzerland in Pakistan and the ADB to support NDRMF. Ms Stefanie Burri, Head of International Cooperation, Embassy of Switzerland, and Ms Xiaohong Yang, ADB Country Director signed the agreement. Under this agreement, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) will provide 1.5 million Swiss Francs (equivalent to USD 1.5 million) to the fund.
In addition, the SDC will also provide technical assistance to the Fund through secondment of a Disaster Risk Finance Specialists. Both sides expressed strong resolve for continued support and co-operation towards enhancing resilience of the Country.
NDRMF will be focusing on projects based on thematic areas identified under two umbrella documents that are NDMP and NFPP-IV. These projects are related to Multi Hazard Vulnerability Risk Assessment (MHVRA), Community Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM), Development of Emergency Response Plans, Strengthening Early Warning System and Infrastructure development for disaster risk reduction and retrofitting of flood protection infrastructure.
Apart from risk reduction activities, NDRMF will also be working on the Risk Transfer Mechanism System by devising a Disaster Risk Financing (DRF) Strategy and conducting a pilot project, which could be scaled up at a national level.
The fund will also help the government in complying with International and National commitments like Hyogo Framework, Paris Agreement, Sendai Framework, Vision 2025 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).