ISLAMABAD - Caretaker Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Dr Shamshad Akhtar said on Monday that the National Disaster Risk Management Fund will be a first concrete step towards making Pakistan resilient against natural disasters and climate change impacts.

She expressed these views at the launching ceremony of the NDRMF. She said that Pakistan has suffered over Rs20 billion losses over the last few years, affecting more than 30 million people. She stressed the need for setting up a sustainable financing system to fund risk reduction and mitigation activities in the country.

Dr Akhtar assured the full commitment of the government to support the NDRMF and the provision of additional resources to strengthen the fund's operations to comply with international and national commitments.

She said that the federal government will also ensure the fund carries out its activities in an efficient, transparent and coordinated manner.

She urged the NDRMF to mainstream its efforts for a coherent and institutionalized DRM approach among federal, provincial and local government institutions. She appreciated the development partners especially the Asian Development Bank for their vital role in this strategic initiative.

NDRMF Chief Executive Officer Lt-Gen (retd) Nadeem Ahmed gave an overview of the fund mandate, operations, thematic areas and fund linkage with the National Disaster Management Plan-(NDMP) and the National Flood Protection Plan (NFPP-IV). He also briefed about the mechanism devised to sustain the NDRMF operational activities in order to minimize its impact on the national exchequer.

ADB country director Xiaohong Yang lauded Pakistan for its unique capacities with regards to managing a diverse range of disasters and called it potentially the best country in terms of knowledge, regulatory framework and DRM infrastructure to implement this pilot idea.

She also gave a commitment to providing an additional funding of $1 billion for this initiative in years 2020-2030.

The government of Pakistan 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 a 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.

The fund will also provide support in reducing the socio-economic and fiscal vulnerability of the country and its population due to natural hazards and climate change. Channelizing financial investments in the DRR and preparedness segment of the DM will have high positive economic impacts for the country.

The initial financing of NDRMF is being carried out through an ADB loan to 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 the NDRMF as a grant for on-granting to eligible implementing partners both from the public and private sectors.

The NDRMF will finance up to 70 percent of eligible projects cost that shall enhance Pakistan's resilience to extreme weather events and other natural hazards.