The federal government will match donations from Canadians to help the people of Pakistan recover from massive flooding, although the amount of aid it is offering is far less than Ottawa pledged after less severe flooding in 2010.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that donations made to any of the 12 aid organizations that make up the Humanitarian Coalition will be matched until September 28, up to a maximum of $3 million.
Canada will send an additional $25 million to Pakistan to respond to flooding and support development projects, on top of the $5 million announced by the Liberals last month.
“We will continue to look for other ways to help,” Trudeau said at a press conference on Tuesday, calling the floods in Pakistan a “horrible climate disaster.”
Emergency food, water, sanitation and health services are badly needed as monsoon rains over the past three months have left more than a third of the country under water.
More than 33 million people are 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 swathes of Pakistan were flooded in 2010, 20 million people were affected. The former Harper government pledged $71.8 million for relief efforts, including $46.8 million from donations matched by Ottawa.
Ian Smillie, a longtime international development practitioner, says he’s puzzled that the federal government isn’t providing more funding or offering to triple donations.
The $3 million pledge is “peanuts,” he said. “The situation there is dire, and it has been for weeks.”
Smillie said Ottawa usually tries to channel funding through Canadian non-governmental organizations that don’t have a big presence in Pakistan.
However, he said the Humanitarian Coalition includes multinational charities that know how to deploy funds to those most in need on the ground, at multiples more than what Canada has offered.
“They have to say it’s generous and every little bit counts, but $3 million isn’t a lot,” Smillie said.
Human Concern International, a Canadian charity that is not part of the coalition and will not receive matching donations from Ottawa, warned that the floods risked reversing gains in education and child health in some of the poorest regions of the country.
“What you see is 33 million people, close to the population of Canada, who have been affected by the floods,” said Mohamed Noorani, the charity’s deputy chief executive.
“In terms of dollars, it’s pretty clear that it won’t meet the need as it is now.”
International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan is currently in Pakistan witnessing the devastation. Neither his office nor Global Affairs Canada explained how they determine the amount of donations to match.
“We continue to look for ways to provide support to the people of Pakistan and we stand ready to provide additional assistance, as and when needed,” department spokeswoman Marilyne Guevremont wrote.