The federal government will double donations from Canadians to help Pakistan’s people recover from massive flooding — though the amount of aid it’s providing is much smaller than what Ottawa promised after less severe floods in 2010.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that donations to one of the 12 aid organizations that make up the Humanitarian Coalition will be matched up to a maximum of $3 million until Sept. 28.
Canada will send another $25 million to Pakistan to respond to the floods and support development projects, in addition to the $5 million the liberals announced last month.
VIEW | Pakistan braces for more rain as displaced families plead for help:
“We will continue to look at other ways we can help,” Trudeau said at a news conference on Tuesday. He called the floods in Pakistan a “horrific climate disaster”.
Emergency food, water, sanitation and health services are desperately needed. The monsoon rains of the past three months have left more than a third of the country under water.
More than 33 million people have been affected by the floods and with much of the country’s farmland under water, the Pakistani government is warning of an impending food shortage.
When large parts of Pakistan flooded in 2010, 20 million people were affected. Harper’s former administration pledged $71.8 million in relief efforts, including $46.8 million from donations that matched Ottawa.
Ian Smillie, an experienced international development expert, said he is baffled that the federal government has failed to top up more funding or offer triple donations.
The $3 million pledge is “peanuts,” he said. “The situation there is dire and it has been dire for weeks.”
Smillie said Ottawa generally tries to channel money through Canadian non-governmental organizations that don’t have a strong presence in Pakistan.
But the humanitarian coalition, he said, includes multinational charities that know how to mobilize money for the most deprived on the ground, at far more than Canada has offered.
“They’ll no doubt say it’s generous, and every little bit helps, but $3 million isn’t very much,” Smillie said.
Human Concern International, a Canadian charity that is not part of the coalition and will not receive appropriate donations from Ottawa, warned that the floods could reverse gains in education and child health in some of the country’s poorest regions.
“You see 33 million people, close to the population of Canada, who have been affected by the flooding,” said Mohamed Noorani, deputy director of the charity.
“As for the dollar, it’s pretty clear it won’t meet the need as it is now.”
International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan is now in Pakistan, witnessing the devastation. Neither his office nor Global Affairs Canada would explain how they determined the amount of donations.
“We continue to look for ways to support the people of Pakistan and we stand ready to provide additional assistance where needed and based on needs,” said department spokesman Marilyne Guevremont.