By Thomas RA Montgomery
As monsoon rains fell and riverbanks overflowed in Pakistan this summer, Mission Pakistan staff became increasingly concerned that a crisis of unprecedented proportions was building. At their zenith, flood waters covered one third of the country, leaving an area the size of Italy underwater; killing more than 1,700 people; damaging or destroying nearly 2.3 million homes; devastating huge swaths of croplands; and killing approximately 1.2 million livestock. Shocked and saddened by the scope of the disaster, Mission Pakistan quickly mobilized a whole-of-government response.
Mission Pakistan staff from across the interagency began coordinating with USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team and with colleagues in Washington on a robust plan to support the people of Pakistan amid the crisis. USAID Administrator Samantha Power, Department of State Counselor Derek Chollet, as well as members of Congress visited Pakistan to consult with senior Pakistani interlocutors about the country’s evolving needs. USAID and U.S. Central Command quickly developed and executed a plan to airlift 630 metric tons of life-saving relief supplies to Pakistan from USAID’s warehouse in Dubai. Officials, including U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome, visited flood-stricken areas to announce American support, express solidarity with flood victims, and meet with people and communities benefiting from U.S. assistance. The Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network, the largest network of U.S. funded exchange alumni in the world, organized grassroots efforts throughout the country to support rural communities. In close partnership with the United Nations and NGOs, the United States—and Mission Pakistan—was able to ensure life-saving assistance flowed directly and transparently to Pakistanis who needed it most.
To date, the United States has provided nearly $100 million in flood response, disaster resilience, and food security aid to Pakistan, the largest of any single donor. Additionally, the Pakistani-American diaspora community and American private sector have donated more than $32 million. As the U.S. and Pakistan mark 75 years of relations, Mission Pakistan will continue its work to help the Pakistani people recover, rebuild, and increase their resilience to climate change.
Thomas RA Montgomery is the deputy spokesperson at U.S. Embassy Islamabad.