- For three uninterrupted terms, the PPP governed Sindh, a province that endured extreme climate events during its tenure. Could the PPP-led administration have mitigated the horrifying aftermath of those events? The Citizenry investigates Sindh Government’s climate-related departments’ Annual Development Plans from 2007 to 2023, uncovering stunning findings.
- In the span of 16 years, Sindh Government spent MORE on the construction of a flyover and an underpass project in one small Gulshan town of Karachi, than it did on the entire PDMA budget of the most climate-change-disaster prone province.
- The cumulative 16-year Sindh Climate Budget expenditure of PKR 20.200 billion is LESS than the cost of the Malir Expressway, an environmentally contested mega road project worth PKR 27.5 billion.
WITH the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 28) set to convene in November this year, Pakistan has put forth a case for climate disaster-related loss and damages funds.
Last year, the country was bashed by incessant downpours, leaving much of Pakistan inundated, killing at least 1,500 people. A distressed-looking UN chief, Antonio Gueterres, said in his video message, it was “monsoon rains on steroids”.
Sindh was the most affected province with 24 out of its 30 districts considerably impacted. The provincial government, led by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), appealed to the federal government, international agencies and international financial institutions for monetary and material aid. Prior to the end of PPP’s third consecutive term in August this year, its outgoing chief minister Murad Ali Shah, stated in his June 2023-2024 budget speech that 87 billion rupees of the provincial Annual Development Plan (ADP) must be redirected to flood-related expenditures.
The Citizenry delved into ADPs of Sindh government’s climate-related departments and their track record from 2008 to 2023-24 (current financial year, beginning July 1, 2023). Also, since much of the conversation at federal and provincial levels on Climate Finance constitutes loss and damage fund, carbon credits market and blended finance with private partners and multilateral development banks, The Citizenry looked closely at what we have called the Climate Budget of Sindh.
The C40 – a global network of mayors of the world’s leading cities – defines a climate budget as “a governance system that mainstreams climate commitments and considerations into decision-making on policies, actions and budgets”.
A benefit of a prolonged reign of a single political party is the continuation of policies. Hence, we set out to detect patterns indicating policy consistency. This entailed putting together budget allocations and expenditures of four provincial departments during their 16-year tenure. (Since expenditures figures of 2007 were available we included them. Thus, we have expenditures from 2007 to 2022-23 and allocations from 2008 to 2023-24.)
For The Citizenry’s investigative report, we opted to strictly look at the Sindh annual budgets to see the track performance of four key provincial departments and referred to them as climate-related departments.
These four climate-related departments have been further broken down by the Citizenry into seven subdepartments.
- A. Environment, Climate Change and Coastal Department
- 1. Environment
- 2. Directorate of Climate Change
- 3. Coastal Development Authority
- B. Forest and Wildlife Department
- 4. Forest
- 5. Wildlife
- C. Alternative Energy Department
- 6. Alternative Energy
- D. Rehabilitation Department
- 7. Provincial Disaster Management Authority
OVERALL KEY FINDINGS
Before we examine each subdepartment, here are our overall key findings about the four climate departments:
- Sindh climate budget total allocation: 48,801.00 million rupees or 48.8 billion
- Sindh climate budget total expenditure: 20,200.25m or 20.2bn
(Allocation and expenditure figures mentioned in the story throughout are in Pakistani rupees unless specified otherwise. Units are spelt out on first use eg million, billion, trillion. Subsequent mentions are abbreviated with no spaces between numbers and units, eg m, bn, tr)
To put into perspective, the entire 16-year expenditure of the four climate departments amounts to 20.2 billion rupees. That is 26.5 per cent less than the amount what the PPP-led Sindh government has been keen on SPENDING FOR constructing the Malir Expressway project at a cost of 27.5bn. And at the cost of River Malir, its riverbed and floodplains to connect housing societies through a public-private partnership arrangement. This seemingly sets out the intentions of the three consecutive tenures of the provincial government regarding its spending on climate change.
Another noticeable collective finding is in the financial year of 2018-19 – the year of 2018 General Elections – the total expenditures of these four climate departments exceeded the total amount allocated to them for their development programs. (This is the only instance when this happened).
Moreover, 16 years of Sindh government spending on climate-change-related developments is only one billion more than the monetary damage the Sindh energy sector incurred in flood-hit areas in 2022.
After last year’s Sindh’s unprecedented floods, the Federal Ministry of Planning Development and Special Initiatives with the Sindh Planning and Development Department conducted a survey of the province, known as the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report, to estimate the damages and losses after the floods. The survey report assessed that the damages (defined as destruction of physical assets) and loss (defined as disruption in economic potential or cash flows resulting from destruction) caused was worth 20 billion US dollars.
The PDNA assessed that Sindh suffered in total damages amounting to Rs1,948bn or 1.95tr and losses Rs2,444bn or 2.4tr. It also assessed that long-term rehabilitation recovery required Rs1,688bn or 1.69tr.
In the PDNA report it was found that the energy sector’s infrastructure in Sindh suffered a damage of Rs19bn. The PDNA report also found that for the long-term recovery of the energy sector’s infrastructure governance (i.e. running of basic infrastructures such as schools, hospitals etc. and related mechanisms) an amount of Rs19bn was needed.
These amounts are almost one billion less than the total Climate Expenditure of Rs20.2bn done for Sindh in the last 16 years.
The PDNA survey also stated that Sindh sustained the highest damage in the forest sector, amounting to Rs1.8bn. This amount is Rs0.3m less than the cost of Karachi’s newly inaugurated mega road project Gulistan-e-Jauhar flyover and underpass (albeit without the pre-construction legally mandated Environmental Impact Assessment report). This puts into perspective that forest recovery appears to be competing with a new mega road project, a development cost could have easily been covered by the outgoing Sindh government.
The same holds true for the losses to the private sector that PDNA report estimated to be also 1.8bn like the forest sector.
CLIMATE BUDGET MAPPING
We’ve created a climate budget map, in which you can see the number of development schemes the Sindh government proposed from 2008-09 to 2023-24 in each district of Sindh. The climate budget departments are: Environment, Climate Change, Coastal Department, Directorate of Climate Change, Coastal Development, Forest and Wildlife, Alternative Energy and Rehabilitation (PDMA).
- PERFORMANCE STATUS: Against the total Rs3.419bn allocations in 16 years, the department’s expenditure was a mere Rs336.56m. That is less than 10pc.
During its 16 years, the Sindh Environment Department has renamed itself several times. Occasionally combined with different provincial departments, however, most times there was just a name change but development schemes remained unchanged.
- In 2006-07 it was Environment & Alternate Energy.
- In 2008-09 an Environment & Alternative Energy (AE) Department was constituted. There were no subdepartments and no schemes for AE.
- In 2009-10 it became just the Environment Department.
- In 2013-14 it was turned back to Environment & Alternative Energy, with a subdepartment of Alternative Energy.
- In 2014-15 it was constituted as Forest, Environment & Wildlife, each as a subdepartment.
- In 2016-17 it became Environment & Coastal Development, each as a subdepartment.
- In 2017-18 it appeared as Environment, Climate Change and Coastal Development. Till 2022-23 there was no subdepartment for Climate Change.
- In 2023-24 the name remained the same but a subdepartment for Climate Change emerged.
What could be considered the most crucial subdepartment in the Climate Budget, the Environment Department, whose budget expenditure against the allocation made from 2007 to 2023-24 has revealed the most stunning finding of our investigative report. Less than 10pc has been spent in over 16 years by the Sindh government.
More worryingly from 2018-19 to date, zero expenditure was made by the subdepartment i.e. no schemes were worked upon in the past five years, the time when Sindh experienced two major floods in 2020 and 2022.
In financial years 2012-13 and 2013-14, the subdepartment made expenditures as low as Rs200,000 and Rs580,000, respectively. This happened despite floods in 2012 in which 259 people died and 3.2m became homeless in Sindh, according to a National Disaster Management Authority report. In 2013 floods, more than a dozen villages were inundated by floodwater in Dadu and Matiari districts.
We noticed three schemes approved in 2012-13 that remained on the ADP books for four years with no spending on them until 2017. Over the years new schemes were introduced but dropped off or they were approved yet remained static.
Extreme climate events such as record-breaking high temperatures seemed to have no impact on the budget allocation and spending of the subdepartment. The highest ever expenditure made on the development schemes of the environment was in 2017-18, amounting to Rs139m, and from 2018 onwards there has been no expenditure made by the subdepartment.
For instance, in 2018, Sindh’s city Shaheed Benazirabad (SBA) (formerly Nawabshah) witnessed the highest April temperature ever recorded on the planet in modern records – a scorching 50.2° Celsius. The previous world record was held by another Sindh city, Larkana, at 50° Celsius recorded a year earlier in April 2017.
In the last 16 years the environment department has never allocated any development money for the District SBA, while the Larkana district has had only one development scheme.
It is obvious that there has been no environment resilience strategy or even a short-term plan. Embezzlement was detected in one of the schemes about a critical study on the effect of pesticides, covered by The Citizenry earlier this year.
The only mention we see of the infamous Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) is in one of the three ongoing schemes – the strengthening of an environmental monitoring system – stalled with no spending for the past five years.
The 2012-13 budget seemed to have promising schemes under the environment subdepartment such as “Feasibility Study and Remedial Measures for Restoration of Lakes and Other Water Bodies in Sindh” that stayed on the budget books from 2008 to 2013. It was never approved and later on vanished.
Another scheme about the wetlands, focused on the Ramsar sites, remained in the budget books from 2012 to 2015 but was also bumped off. Yet another scheme, the well-intended belated “Study on impacts of Climate Change in Sindh including Floods and Rains 2010 and 2011” made its entry in the 2012-13 budget books. It disappeared in 2014-15.
The only silver lining that The Citizenry could find is the much-needed air quality scheme that has been on the budget books for two years. It might actually take off this year from what we have been hearing from Karachi-based environmentalists who have stepped up to the task.
The Citizenry spoke to PPP’s former environment minister Ismail Rahoo asking him about the zero expenditure in the environment subdepartment. He acknowledged that there had been certain gaps at their end. The minister who was in the government till the caretaker one came to office in August, said the department is relatively new and that they were gradually increasing its allocation. “It is more of a coordination department,” he said, adding its purpose was to ensure that the forest, wildlife and local government departments are working in line with the climate change policy. “We also tend to advise these departments.”
DIRECTORATE OF CLIMATE CHANGE:
- PERFORMANCE STATUS: It has been allocated 40m. Zero expenditure so far because it was just created; the performance percent is zero for now.
The Directorate of Climate Change (DoCC) is an intriguing addition to the Environment, Climate Change and Coastal Development Department for the ongoing fiscal year of 2023-24.
The directorate has so far, one unapproved scheme of 90m on raising awareness on climate change, capacity building and institutional strengthening of the DoCC.
The Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) has indicated that all provinces and the federal government would eventually have their own climate finance units. We conjectured that perhaps this Directorate is connected to the unit. But why was there a need for the directorate, what purpose would it serve and what would be its goals. These details and more were not provided by the departing Sindh cabinet.
However, Director General DoCC Akhlaq Qureshi told The Citizenry that the role of DoCC is mostly “policy oriented”. At the provincial level, he said, the directorate will coordinate with the federal ministry of climate change. The DoCC, he said, also spearheaded the first “Sindh Climate Change Policy-2022”, which was approved by the provincial cabinet in July 2022.
Our hunch turned out to be right regarding the climate finance unit; the DG said that the unit has to be established with the directorate. A plan about this is being discussed with the provincial planning and development department, he added.
- PERFORMANCE STATUS: The Coast Development subdepartment has had a very sporadic allocation, as well as, expenditure. In the past 16 years the Sindh government has allocated a total of Rs10.069bn for its coastal development, with an expenditure of Rs4.421bn and a performance 44 percent
This is the only subdepartment besides PDMA that has foreign project assistance (FPA). Yet, amusingly, the years in which the FPA money was given to the department, we see it performing its worst with shamefully low spending.
This is the only department where it appears that the provincial government had to deal with climate change migrants through a development scheme titled “Improvement of Major Fisherman’s Settlements and Rehabilitation of Flood Affected Areas in Coastal Areas of Karachi, Thatta and Badin”. The cost of the scheme was 779.619m. The scheme was approved in January 2013, most likely following the flash floods of September 2012. It first turned up in the 2013-14 ADP with June 2016 as its completion date.
With the 2013 election year out of the way, we noticed a slight change in the location and title of the scheme. It was renamed, “Improvement of Major Fishermen’s Settlements and Rehabilitation of Flood Affected Areas in Coastal Areas of Thatta, Sujawal and Badin” with Karachi no longer remaining a rehabilitation location. It is important to note that District Sujawal was created in October 2013. In 2016-17 and 2017-18 the scheme was marked as under review or revised yet expenditure on it continued with the completion date moving to June 2019. In the 2018-19 ADP, this scheme was “re-revised”. The scheme was then 979.575m with a completion date for June 2020, which was further pushed forward in 2021-22 to June 2022 and appeared to have been met. In all it took 10 years to completely rehabilitate and resettle the climate change migrants.
The highest allocation ever made in this subdepartment was in 2012-13 with an amount of 1481.45m or 1.482bn. This was primarily due to the FPA component of 1.29bn for the Sindh Coastal Community Development Project (SCCDP) scheme.
The highest ever allocations made without FPA were in the subsequent years of 2013-14 and 2014-15 for unapproved schemes on the Coastal Development Authority; none got the green signal.
The Citizenry spoke to PPP’s Rahoo who concurred with our observation about the low expenditure in the coastal development subdepartment. The coastal areas receive the most climate change migrants, he said, for which his government came up with various development schemes under the subdepartment. “We particularly strengthened the water canal system in the coastal areas for the improvement of irrigation in those areas. And the water canal system enabled climate migrants access to drinking water,” he said.
SCDA’s ‘SPECIAL PACKAGE’
In the 2013-14 budget, a 1,000m or one billion “Special Package” was proposed for the Sindh Coastal Development Authority (SCDA/CDA). However, its PC-1 form remained unapproved. By 2014-15 this so-called Special Package disappeared.
A scheme titled “Coastal Community Development Initiatives” entered in the budget books, also unapproved and also worth one billion like the Special Package. In 2015-16 this scheme is also nowhere to be seen. In 2016-17 SCDA reappeared for an office building. This scheme too was unapproved and got dropped the following year. BOX ENDS
We would like to make a special mention of the Coastal Road scheme from Lath Basti to Ibrahim Hyderi worth 425.875m, introduced in the ADP 2022-23, approved and implemented this year 2023-24.
- PERFORMANCE STATUS: A total of 9.894bn (77pc) was spent on forest from 2008 to 2022-23 against a total allocation of 12.789bn.
We can see forest allocation versus expenditure seemed better than other departments. There were lesser dips in the forest department allocation in 16 years. As for the expenditure, the department has sufficiently spent more than half of its allocation.
We decided to take a closer look at the forest subdepartment since the outgoing CM Murad Ali Shah made a huge announcement in his 2023-24 budget speech about being able to generate millions of dollars’ worth of revenue with carbon credits mostly through forestry.
A carbon credit is a financial instrument or an accounting mechanism quantifying the removal or avoidance of one metric ton of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Carbon Credits, which are like a reward system for deterring polluting industries, are generated by the government for projects that are designed and administered with the goal of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. This involves having their impact vetted and verified by an independent third party to ensure transparency of the projects.
The Sindh government, CM Shah said, is committed to unconditional contribution to a global drive for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “We will be able to earn USD 200-220m, equivalent to around 63 billion rupees, of carbon credits over the next two decades for its efforts to expand mangrove forests.”
He added that they were implementing two Indus Delta mangrove projects: Delta Blue Carbon-1 (DBC) and DBC-2. These projects were being done in collaboration with private entities to generate USD 14.7m in revenue for Sindh. “Some 21,000 jobs have been created so far besides investment towards afforestation, restoration and revegetation of the mangroves.”
Blue carbon is different from “land-based carbon sequestration”. It is the carbon captured by the coastal ecosystems. Blue-carbon-centric projects are focused on restoring marine ecology.
As the former CM claimed to have created green jobs, the promise of new forest nurseries and carbon sequestering made us search for all the revenue reported by the forest department, comprising various types of forest area, in 16 years.
Speaking to The Citizenry, Muhammad Riaz, the chief conservator of Sindh Forest Department, said the DBC-1 project lies from Karachi’s coastline to Shahbandar, while DBC-2 begins from Shahbandar all the way to Badin. The DBC-1 project, he claimed, has already generated USD 14.7m worth of carbon credit revenue, on November 18, 2022. “We have sold the carbon credit in the international voluntary market,” he said. The revenue generated from DBC-1 lies in the endowment account and is not reflected in the current budget books. He said a steering committee is to be constituted that will decide the fate of this amount. “It is more likely to be allocated for environment schemes, so that more carbon credits could be earned.” As for the DBC-2, he said, its revenue generation will start at a later stage.
Summary of Protected Areas in Pakistan 2018 & 2019 in hectares
- Region/Province: Sindh
- National Parks with wildlife: 01
- Wildlife Sanctuaries: 34
- Game Reserves: 13
- Community Reserves: 0
- Total Protected Area: 48
Here’s what we found in the forest subdepartment:
- Much as we would have liked to see a correlation of the revenue earned by the forest subdepartment with the expenditures made on its development schemes, we have not noticed any correlation at all. The much talked about DBC projects on mangrove forests launched in 2015 and their carbon credits revenue worth USD 14.7m claimed to be earned by the government of Sindh (GoS) are not reflected here.
- When it comes to the allocations and expenditures, it appears that the GoS may have had a strategy as early as 2009 when serious spending began.
- With ambitious allocations in the initial years, the difference between the allocations and the expenditures grew smaller over the years. Meaning, what was planned was actually carried out. The year 2013-14 turned out to be far too ambitious with 847m allocated but with nearly only a quarter of spending at 288m.
- Later, we observed three consecutive years where a small pattern emerged that is a depiction of poor planning by the department. In the 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 the expenditure of the forest department’s budget exceeded the allocation. After which the expenditure amount did not exceed the allocated amount.
- However, it does show that there was seriousness about spending the allocated amounts on forest development schemes. We observed the same ad hoc spending in 2020-21 perhaps in response to the floods, where nearly twice the amount allocated was spent i.e. a massive 1.383bn expenditure against 635m allocated.
- Another major dip was between 2019-20 and 2020-21 when the allocation went from 905m to 635m.
- Allocation for 2021-22 seems to have been done keeping in view the spend of the preceding year and the expenditures made indicate there was effective spending on the proposed new and ongoing schemes.
- It seems that was the plan until the 2022 floods struck and affected the forests of Sindh majorly (77pc of them according to the PDNA). We see a jump in the expenditure, the highest ever for the department worth 1.74bn. Unsurprisingly, there has been a 2.049bn worth allocation for this year’s schemes.
SHARED FORESTRY PROJECT: Old vine in a new pot
Since 2016, the Sindh Forest Department is sharing a forestry project with the federal government. Called the “Green Pakistan Program (GPP) Reclamation & Development of Forest Areas in Sindh”, it first appeared as an unapproved project in the provincial 2016-17 ADP. A co-financing arrangement with the federal government and GoS splitting the costs of 800m at a 50:50 ratio. Meaning, the federal and provincial government were to put in 400m each.
By the time the project was approved on May 5, 2017 during the PML-N’s tenure, it was renamed “Green Pakistan Programme [GPP] Revival of Forestry Resources in Sindh/ Pakistan” at a total cost of 779.999m (slightly less than the 2016-17 estimated cost) with the federal government having the lighter burden of 331.714m and GoS pledging 448.285m.
Then, came Imran Khan’s PTI government in 2018. The project was reprogrammed to be included in the new PTI-led federal government’s ambitious plans of its Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Program. But, it appears the GPP managed to keep its distinctiveness irrespective of the merged efforts.
After reprogramming, the project was christened as the “Green Pakistan Program-Revival of Forestry and Wildlife Resources in Pakistan (Ten Billion Trees Tsunami Program) Phase-I Up-scaling of GPP Sindh chapter”. As per the provincial ADP it has a huge total cost of 5827.400m or 5.8274bn.
- PERFORMANCE STATUS: The department had a total allocation of 1.816bn from 2008-9 to 2023-24. Total expenditure was 766.126m from 2007 to 2022-23. This means only 42pc of the total allocations made in the 16 years was actually spent.
The Wildlife Department’s planning and spending on its development schemes that were part of the ADP remained uneven in 16 years with zero expenditure in some years and zero allocation in the current financial year.
An ambitious start with an allocation of 212.53m in the 2009-10 ADP with a mere 7.88m expenditure. This was, coincidentally, the same amount that was spent the year before, so it didn’t matter what the allocation was in 2008-09 and 2009-10. It was decided that the spend would be 7.88m. However, this could be an error in the books, quite common in the pre-Murad Ali Shah years as CM, as per our observations.
It appears that the seriousness in developing the wildlife’s ADP schemes began in 2010-11, going from 7.88m to 110.42m within a year’s time span. This increase in spend might be as a result of the 2010 superfloods in which we know that cattle died or were affected, however, little was reported in the press on the wildlife losses.
We closely analyzed the ADP budget of the wildlife department for the following year i.e. 2011-12. We noticed there was a decrease in the allocated amount, from 236.73m in 2010-11 to 155.10m. However, there was a sudden spike in spending from 110.42m in 2010-11 to 207.65m in 2011-12. This expenditure of 207.65m has been the highest-ever expenditure for wildlife in 16 years. A further closer look revealed that this spend was mainly for the scheme “Development of Khirthar Protected Area Complex (KPAC)” whose total worth was 299m of which 155.77m was spent that year.
Then, in 2020-21, the year of the next big floods, we see more expenditure than the allocated amount i.e. 80.6m versus the allocated 55m. And then in 2021-22 and 2022-23 we see zero expenditure. In the current year of 2023-24, there is nil allocation for the wildlife subdepartment.
- PERFORMANCE STATUS: In 2013-14 Alternative Energy subdepartment’s allocation was 173m, its expenditure nil, therefore the performance per cent is zero.
The Citizenry’s initial interest in alternative energy (AE) led us to look for related schemes mentioned in the four main departments until we reached 2013-14 ADP. Here we noticed the creation of a separate subdepartment i.e. AE with the environment department for which an amount was allocated but never spent.
In the following year for no apparent or stated reason, the subdepartment was merged with the main energy department. And all its schemes were put into the energy category. This gives evidence that there was a lack of policy or a long-term strategy when the subdepartment was thought up or when the budgeting was being done. We have pondered over the sudden emergence of this subdepartment guessing reasons accounting for this well-intentioned brainwave.
In 2013, world oil prices were at a record low, boosting the then-Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz federal government, as observed by Dr. Hafiz Pasha in his 2023 Friedrich Ebert Stiftung study in which he analyzed the performance of three federal governments. This might have meant the fuel bill for the province would have been low enough to (re)allocate some of its energy budget into new alternative energy schemes. We know from Dr. Pasha’s study that there was a national strategy on the cumulative expansion in capacity for power generation and the province seemingly wanted to align with it. ,
That year Chief Minister (CM) Qaim Ali Shah, also holding the finance portfolio, presented the 2013-14 budget as Murad Ali Shah who was appointed as Sindh finance minister was relegated to the role of CM’s finance adviser when he suddenly had to figure out his Canadian dual citizenship. Perhaps, the then-CM had a vision for specialized alternative or renewable energy options for Sindh in his last stint as the finance minister.
Our sleuthing led us to a report titled Trends in Electricity Generation 2006-2021. Here we found that indeed 2013-14 was a happening year in the energy sector in Sindh in which two sources of electricity generation can be attributed for the need of a new subdepartment i.e. alternative energy. One source, bagasse generation, was reintroduced after a gap of some years in 2013-14 and continued to grow.
The most plausible explanation for the emergence of a separate alternative energy subdepartment is the introduction of wind energy as a new source of electricity generation in 2013-14. Wind energy had a steady growth in subsequent years, doubling almost each consecutive year in production. Then CM, in his budget speech, mentioned “a major breakthrough in wind power projects during the current financial year”.
Sadly, though, none of the allocated 173m for the AE subdepartment schemes was ever spent. After merging with the energy department, all of AE’s five schemes, introduced in 2013-14, for which the subdepartment was created, were scrapped by 2015-16.
- PERFORMANCE STATUS: In a span of 11 years, only the PDMA has had a lion’s share in allocation, among the entire climate-related departments at 20.5bn. In terms of expenditure, less than one-fourth (23.33pc) of the total allocated amount by the PDMA has been spent, i.e. 4.78189bn.
PDMA + MD&EHS:
With the ushering in of the 18th Amendment in 2010, core ministries at the federal level were devolved to provinces.
Thus, the role of disaster mitigation, prevention and management under the National Disaster Management Act went to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) merging it with the Sindh Rehabilitation Department.
The purpose of this devolution was to put into place a cross-functional coordination mechanism between departments and local governments. The long-term objective being rehabilitation of the impacted provincial population.
So now the GoS rehabilitation department has constituted the PDMA since 2010. Surprisingly, in 2019 the Directorate of Mobile Diagnostic & Emergency Healthcare Services (MD&EHS) was added to the department.
Initially, the schemes under MD&EHS were with the Sindh Health Department’s ADP which then moved to the Sindh local government department eventually landing up with the rehabilitation department.
- Rehabilitation Total Expenditure (including PDMA and MD&EHS) 2008 to 2023: 4,781.89m or 4.7bn
- Rehabilitation Total Allocations (including PDMA and MD&EHS) 2008 to 2024: 20,493.2m or 20.5bn.
- Rehabilitation Total Expenditure (only PDMA) 2008 to 2023: 1467.81m or 1.467bn
- Rehabilitation Total Allocations (only PDMA) 2008 to 2024: 16399.2m or 16.399bn.
This means the PDMA real performance is nine per cent since 2010 PDMA allocations do not appear to reflect a policy-backed budgeting process. In 2017-18 we see a drastic jump in the allocations going as high as 1121.29m.
The PDMA formed in 2010 was reflected in the 2009-10 Sindh Annual Development Budget books. However, in the 2008-09 budget books we found a department named “Emergent Works / Disaster Assistance” with 500m allocation.
As the table and chart show the trend of the budget allocated versus budget actual spent, it is noticeable that the first expenditure ever made by the PDMA was in 2015 i.e. a total of 66.69m.
After two consecutive zero or minimal spending, we then see a sudden jump in the budget expenditure in 2018 to a whopping 1017.859m.
In 2019-20 we see an increase in the allocations of 1081m due to huge allocation in a World Bank-funded “Sindh Resilience Project”. This project has been allocated 170m, with 700m FPA allocation for 2019-22.
The highest-ever expenditure was made in 2022-23. This is true for PDMA alone. And also true for PDMA and MD&EHS Directorate combined.
The allocations and expenditure do not seem to have a steady trajectory, nor do they appear to be spiked in the spending. It appears that the only year where a natural disaster changed the course of PDMA’s budgeting was due to the 2022 floods.
Overall, though, PDMA spent only 23.33pc of the budget allocated to it in 16 years. This is quite alarming as it indicates that either the allocations budgeting was being done on imaginary projections of the province’s financial share (see NFC section below) or that the PDMA never had the human resources to plan and execute the schemes in the past 16 years.
It made us pause as we wondered about the number of lives, losses and damages that could have been saved by spending the allocated money over time. A constant steady expenditure over time could have led to the capacity building of the provincial disaster management authority.
It is important to note that the PDMA is run by unelected appointees, even though it comes under the GoS rehabilitation department. We do not have enough information at this point to report on the budget allocations process done for this authority – does the finance department use the same process cycle as it does for other departments with discussions by the CM’s cabinet or does the PDMA chairman and his staff send over their wish list (proposals or unapproved PC-1s) of schemes to the finance department.
ABANDONED BY PDMA
Last year, District Dadu’s tehsil Khairpur Nathan Shah was among the worst-hit areas in Sindh’s unprecedented floods. A resident of the 0.3m-people-tehsil, Zahid Hussain in his 50s, shared details of the horrific night Nathan Shah city was submerged.
“A day earlier social media was awash with fake news that our city would be unharmed by the flood,” said Hussain. But around 3am the residents were caught off guard. The Flood Protection Bund (embankment), some 12kms on the East of Khairpur Nathan Shah, breached and floodwater found its way to the city.
There was no early response mechanism by the provincial government. The city was in chaos. “No one knew where to go,” he said, adding that thousands of people rushed out of their homes, abandoning their cattle – major source of income – walking anywhere they thought to be safe. “Families kept walking until 11am,” he said. There was no food and water and no safe place for them, he added. “The government was unprepared.”
Hussain recalled the situation similar to the 2010 superfloods in Sindh. In 12 years, the provincial and federal government hadn’t come up with an evacuation plan, he said.
NFC comparison with Climate Budget:
We decided to take a look at the 7th National Financial Commission (NFC) award that Sindh received after the 18th Amendment with the figures of federal transfers from 2010-2011 to 2022-2023 publicly available on the GoS finance website.
Our reason to compare the NFC transfers with the climate budget allocations and expenditures of the same years is the incessant complaint by the provincial government whenever its budgetary spending performance comes into question, that the federal government did not transfer its due NFC share.
We decided to see if we could detect any discernible patterns. But with the limitation of the numerical high ranges between the figures – the NFC share being just a little over trillion while the combined four departments in each year totaling up to only a one-digit billion. Instead, we looked at the trendlines.
Trendlines are useful to check the direction of the growth and the rate of the growth. With regards to allocations, we see the steady line of the NFC transfer with its upward slope, and below it is the climate budget allocations trendline which is also upwards but growing at a smaller rate than the NFC share. The expenditures, however, seem to be growing at the same rate as the NFC share each year.
A million spent in time, saves nine
A scathing post-budget newspaper editorial in June 2013 said that “the Sindh government is notorious for not being able to fulfill its spending allocations in its budget, and yet somehow still manages to run a budget deficit.” A decade on the verdict still holds.
While it is absolutely fair for the former, caretaker and future government of Sindh to claim its share of the loss and damages funding (should Pakistan be awarded it post-COP28), its track record does not exhibit any contemplative decision making or policy comprehension by previous cabinets and the Sindh bureaucracy on climate-related development planning.
It is one thing to be ambitious about climate finance and the opportunities of investments that climate-related projects could potentially generate. But, it is another matter that the Sindh government itself promotes the building of a mega road project on River Malir – the last surviving greenspace in Karachi – suspending its own concerns for greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, rewilding and revival of waterways and environmental laws.
The deplorable performance of the climate-related departments is consequential in terms of the lives lost and affected due to the to the natural disasters of floods and heatwaves, some of which might have been prevented had there been an effective regulatory environmental authority, a more transparent form of annual budgeting and evidence-based policy planning with continuity especially given that the PPP-led Sindh government had three full terms to do so.
Header image by Noor Mumtaz
Graphs and charts by Sadya Siddiqui
Map by Oonib Azam
Subedited by Maleeha Hamid Siddiqui