Finance minister lauds launch of NDRMF

ISLAMABAD: The Caretaker Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Statistics, Planning, Development and Reform, Dr Shamshad Akhtar termed the 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 the inaugural session at the launching ceremony of NDRMF, held Monday morning in Islamabad. The event was attended by notable representatives of the federal and provincial governments and disaster management authorities, UN Agencies, international donors, academia, civil society, NGOs, media and dignitaries form diplomatic missions.

Expressing concern over the losses that Pakistan has suffered over the last few years, affecting more than 30 million people, the finance minister stressed the need for setting up sustainable financing system to fund risk reduction and mitigation activities in the country. Akhtar reiterated full commitment of the government to NDRMF and provision of additional resources to strengthen the fund’s operations.

“Government will also ensure that the fund carries out its activities in an efficient, transparent and coordinated manner”, she said urging NDRMF to mainstream its efforts for a coherent and institutionalised DRM approach among federal, provincial, and local government institutions.

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Meanwhile, CEO NDRMF, Lt General (retd) Nadeem Ahmed during his welcome address gave an overview about fund mandate, operations, thematic areas and fund linkage with National Disaster Management Plan-(NDMP) and National Flood Protection Plan (NFPP-IV).  He also briefed about the mechanism devised to sustain its operational activities in order to minimise its impact on national 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.

Also addressing the ceremony, Country Director ADB Xiaohong Yang, lauded Pakistan for its unique capacities with regards to managing a diverse range of disasters and called it as potentially the best country in terms of knowledge, regulatory framework and DRM infrastructure to implement this pilot idea. He also committed to providing an additional funding of $1 billion for this initiative in years 2020-2030.

The government had been working with a number of development partners to identify opportunities and mechanism to enhance financial management of disaster risk. These initiatives resulted in the 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.

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 the 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.

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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 DRF strategy and conducting a pilot project, which could be scaled up at a national level.

The fund will also help in complying with International and National commitments like Hyogo Framework, Paris Agreement, Sendai Framework, Vision 2025 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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