The Sindh government has revealed a comprehensive rehabilitation plan in its budget for 2023-24, aiming to revitalise various sectors affected by the devastating monsoon floods of 2022. Chief Minister Sindh, Murad Ali Shah, highlighted the extensive damage caused by the calamity, which affected over 33 million people nationwide, with Sindh bearing the brunt of the destruction.

The floods submerged 70% of the province and affected over 12.4 million individuals, resulting in significant losses to infrastructure, agriculture, education, and other vital sectors. Damage spanned on over 2 million houses, standing crops on 3.8 million acres, about 20,000 schools, and several other sectors. Twenty four of the 30 districts of Sindh were declared ‘calamity-hit’ as over 1000 people lost their lives, he said. To address the aftermath, the Sindh government has allocated funds for multifaceted rehabilitation efforts. These include reviving agricultural activity, rebuilding damaged irrigation infrastructure, rehabilitating provincial highways and internal roads, restoring water and sanitation facilities, and providing long-term, low-cost, climate-resilient housing.

The Sindh Water and Agriculture Transformation Project is set to provide wheat subsidies to 296,819 farmers across an area of 2,085,389 acres. Additionally, the government has earmarked Rs453.625 million from the Accelerated Action Plan for the agriculture sector to combat child stunting and malnutrition.

The World Bank-supported Sindh Flood Emergency Reconstruction Project aims to reconstruct core housing units in 24 flood-affected districts. Financial assistance of Rs300,000 and Rs50,000 is being provided to individuals with fully or partially damaged houses, with a total of 350,000 housing units targeted in the first phase. Furthermore, the Sindh Flood Emergency Rehabilitation Project, in collaboration with the World Bank, has already addressed 208 breaches and rehabilitated 11 small dams, with further drainage works planned for the upcoming fiscal year.

The government plans to construct 168 roads spanning 932.85 km in 19 districts, restore 2,904 water supply and drainage schemes, and provide cash transfers of Rs17,500 to 850,000 vulnerable households affected by the floods. The Asian Development Bank is assisting in the Emergency Flood Assistance Project, which aims to rehabilitate 805 km of flood and rain-affected roads in densely populated areas.

In line with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Sindh government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in sectors such as energy, industry, forests, agriculture, and transport. As part of this commitment, the government is implementing two Indus Delta mangrove projects, Delta Blue Carbon 1 and 2, in collaboration with a private entity, generating revenue of $14.7 million for Sindh.

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah highlighted the job creation opportunities and investments in afforestation and mangrove restoration that have already been realised through these initiatives. He said that some 21,000 jobs have been created so far.

The proposed budget for agriculture engineering stands at Rs18.9 billion for the upcoming year, against current year’s budget of Rs 16.652 billion for agriculture engineering, which includes subsidies for agriculture implements, installation of regular and solar-powered tube wells, cold storage units, and development operations in Tharparkar.

Under agriculture engineering head, the government will provide 1258 agriculture implements to growers on 50% subsidy and install 941 regular and solar powered tube wells at subsidised cost. It aims to install 10 cold storage units, develop 10,795 hectares of land through bulldozer operations and install 25 solar submersible pumps for in Tharparkar.

Furthermore, the budget for livestock and fisheries activities in 2023-24 is proposed at Rs10.987 billion. This allocation includes funds worth Rs150 million for the newly established Livestock Breeding Services Authority, Rs120 million for the Sindh Livestock Expo Event, and Rs1.88 billion for the implementation of the Accelerated Action Plan to address stunting and malnutrition in the livestock sector.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2023.

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