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Pakistan launches $14 billion crowdfunding campaign to build dams

Cash-strapped Pakistan is asking its citizens at home and abroad to donate money to the government for a $14 billion dam project. Prime Minister Imran Khan is leading the effort. So far, only $48 million has been raised. (AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Cash-strapped Pakistan is facing a water shortage, and its government has come up with a solution: using crowdsourcing to fund a $14 billion dam project.

What are the details?

Pakistani leaders have launched a monumental media campaign, asking citizens at home and abroad to send the government donations in order to build two dams. According to the Tehran Times, the idea was launched by the country's chief justice, Saqib Nisar, in July — and Prime Minister Imran Khan is rolling with it.

In a televised address to the nation, Khan said, "I want to take over the fundraising and want overseas Pakistanis to contribute like they used to do for the Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital," referring to an institution he founded prior to taking office. "If every overseas Pakistani donates $1,000, we will have enough to build the dams ourselves."

The government has also run ads with the prime minister pleading for money to help with the projects. In one commercial, Khan says, "We have only 30 days water storage capacity. We already have so many loans that we have problems paying them back. ... We alone will have to build this dam, and we can," The Times of India reported.

The prime minister also used Twitter to stress the importance of the government's initiative, saying last month, "I may supervise Dams project myself, given the urgency."

How's the fundraising going?

As of Thursday, the New York Times reported that a measly $48 million had so far been raised toward the $14 billion goal, and noted that last month, Pakistani television station Samaa estimated, "at this rate, Imran Khan will take 120 years to fund the dam."

Economic analyst Khurran Husain told Al Jazeera of the crowdsourcing plan, "This is not really feasible at all. The amounts involved are far too large, and raising them through donations is far too slow a process and likely to take too long to get even initial targets."

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