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Pakistan aid effort in jeopardy

Aid agencies face closure of projects as money fails to arrive, proving to be the worst case of funding in a decade.

A group of nine major international aid agencies, including Concern Worldwide, has said their aid effort is under threat due to lack of funds. The agencies face a shortfall in excess of £26m ($42m), hindering the assistance of victims of the fighting in Pakistan.

Programmes forced to close

World Vision faces a £7.5m shortfall while Oxfam and Save the Children both face deficits of £4 million each. Oxfam will have to close its programmes to the 360,000 people it had planned to assist if money doesn’t arrive by July. Concern will also have to close its programme mid-July, just as the health risks will escalate with the onset of  monsoon rains.

UN appeal

The funding crisis is not affecting the agencies alone. The UN’s $543m appeal has only received $138m so far. This is a 75% shortfall. Out of the 52 organisations requesting UN appeal funds, 30 have received none at all.

The vast majority of the funds the UN appeal has received came before the recent outpouring of people from the Swat valley. This increased the number of displaced from 500,000 to 2.5 million people in early May. This is the largest internal displacement of people in Pakistan’s history.

Since May, rich countries have contributed a mere $50m to the UN appeal, 9% of the total required.

Speed of aid delivery is vital

Besides the little money going into the UN appeal, even less money is being dispersed to frontline agencies. In a humanitarian crisis speed of delivery is vital. Previously governments would give part of their aid money directly to frontline agencies.

The UN system can improve coordination and reduce duplication of effort. But the allocation of money to frontline agencies takes far too long.

Welcome change in funding

Five weeks into the escalation of the crisis, the UK’s Department for International Development says that it will now directly fund those frontline non-governmental agencies working within the UN appeal. Welcome as this change is, it will require other donors to be equally as flexible to cover the agencies’ £26m shortfall.