Iran: Flash Appeal Bam Earthquake - Relief, recovery and immediate rehabilitation

Originally published


For the latest revisions, please see OCHA Situation Report No. 15

Flash Appeal
Bam Earthquake of 26 December 2003
Islamic Republic of Iran
Relief, Recovery and Immediate Rehabilitation

To respond to this Flash Appeal, donors can make their contributions directly to the United Nations (UN) agencies concerned or to the Iranian Government as part of their on-going bilateral cooperation. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is prepared to serve as a channel for unearmarked contributions towards relief and initial rehabilitation activities of this Flash Appeal. The unearmarked contributions will be allocated in consultation with the United Nations Resident Coordinator and the relevant UN agencies according to agreed priorities.

With regards to funds channeled through the UN System, appropriate UN agencies will be accountable for planning, monitoring, coordinating and reporting on the progress to their respective donors. The UN Disaster Management Team (UNDMT) under the guidance of the UN Resident Coordinator will prepare a summary report on the results of the appealed activities. The entire inter-agency relief and initial rehabilitation activities will be formally reviewed through the joint efforts of the UNDMT, OCHA and the Government of Iran at the end of the proposed 3 months.


1.0 Executive Summary

  • 1.1 Introduction
  • 1.2 Initial Response
  • 1.3 UN Flash Appeal
  • 1.4 Towards sustainable recovery, reconstruction and risk reduction

2.0 Context
  • 2.1 Development Context Prior to the Earthquake
  • 2.2 Disaster Risk and Vulnerability
  • 2.3 National Disaster Management System

3.0 Overall Impact and Immediate Response
  • 3.1 Impact of the Earthquake
  • 3.2 Immediate Response

4.0 Objective and Strategy
  • 4.1 Objective
  • 4.2 Strategy for Relief and Transitional Recovery
  • 4.3 Transition to Medium and Long-term Recovery and Rehabilitation
  • 4.4 Roles and Responsibilities

5.0 Relief and Immediate Rehabilitation Plans
  • 5.1 Food and Logistics
  • 5.2 Water and Sanitation
  • 5.3 Health and Nutrition
  • 5.4 Protection
  • 5.5 Education
  • 5.6 Cultural Heritage
  • 5.7 Economic Recovery, Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Reconstruction
  • 5.8 Shelter
  • 5.9 Coordination and Security

Annex I. Abbreviations and Acronyms


1.1 Introduction

On 26 December 2003, an earthquake measuring 6.5 Source1 on the Richter scale struck the city of Bam and its surrounding villages in Kerman province, south-eastern Iran. The earthquake killed more than 30,000 people, rendered more than 75,000 people homeless and severely damaged or destroyed about 85% of the houses, commercial units, health facilities and administrative buildings in the city of Bam and surrounding villages.

The 2,500 year-old historic citadel of Bam (Arg-e-Bam), an internationally known heritage site, was almost completely destroyed. The economic prospects of the Bam region and the livelihoods of its people will be suffering a severe blow for the years to come.

1.2 Initial Response

Despite the enormous devastation caused by the disaster, the response of and cooperation between the Iranian authorities, Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) and the international community was swift and exemplary. Various government agencies including the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health, the Army and the IRCS launched a massive rescue and relief operation. Nearly 12,000 people were airlifted and taken to hospitals in other provinces. The IRCS mobilised 8,500 relief volunteers. The provincial government set up a six-member committee chaired by the Governor-General of Kerman to coordinate the relief efforts in the affected area. In addition, all sections of Iranian society came together to help the affected people.

Likewise, the international community showed tremendous solidarity in responding swiftly and generously. More than 1,600 Search and Rescue, Health and Relief personnel from 44 countries arrived in the affected area to assist in the rescue and relief operations. Within hours of the disaster, the UN dispatched its Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team (UNDAC) to support the Government in coordinating this enormous international response. The UN Country Team and UN agencies mobilised relief items as well as technical support. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and various Non-Governmental Organisations set up field hospitals, distributed food items, tents and blankets. About 60 countries provided in-kind and cash contributions.

Within a few days, these efforts resulted in the provision of temporary shelters to most of those left homeless by the disaster, the resumption or distribution of water supplies, and the provision of the basic food and non-food relief items.

1.3 UN Flash Appeal

As the search and rescue phase is coming to an end, the present Appeal seeks resources to address the relief, recovery and immediate rehabilitation requirements in the Bam region for the next 90 days. In close collaboration and consultation with the Government, IRCS, IFRC and other international organisations, the Appeal identifies projects totalling US$ 31.3 million. This will help facilitate a smoother transition from the initial relief phase to the eventual reconstruction and development of the Bam region.

Hence, in addition to accommodating the most immediate needs, the projects outlined in this Appeal will help accelerate the planning and implementation of reconstruction activities to ensure the rapid and sustainable recovery of the region. A critical element of this effort is the restoration of the cultural heritage of Bam and the identification of effective measures to reduce the impact of future earthquakes.

The UN Resident Coordinator initiated the preparation of this Flash Appeal on 31 December 2003, with the support of the UN Country Team and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). An inter-agency rapid needs assessment mission fielded on 3-5 January 2004 was guided by three criteria:

  • Coordination with the Government: The needs assessment mission held extensive consultations with the provincial government focal points in each sector to ensure that this Appeal truly reflects the needs in the affected area. Wherever possible, the mission also interviewed a number of affected people;

  • Coordination with the IFRC and IRCS: This Appeal is being co-launched with the IFRC. Extensive consultations were held with both IFRC and IRCS in Bam to ensure that efforts proposed in the two Appeals are complementary;

  • Identification of the most strategic areas of UN support: Given the magnitude of the disaster the needs of the affected area are likely to be very substantial. It is important that the UN agencies identify the most strategic areas of support and work in close partnership with their provincial and national counterparts.

1.4 Towards sustainable recovery, reconstruction and risk reduction

It is envisaged that at the end of the next 90 days the system of providing sustained relief to the affected people will be well established, initial recovery of livelihoods well underway and the foundations of an effective long-term recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction programme firmly laid. However, rebuilding of Bam in all its dimensions - social, economic, physical, cultural -- poses a bigger challenge over the next at least two years. Given the magnitude of the disaster, it will require huge amounts of resources, skilled human resources and innovative institutional arrangements to accomplish a sustainable recovery.

At present, initial estimates indicate that the long-term recovery could cost anywhere between US$ 700 to 1,000 million. Although most of these resources will have to be garnered by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the international community can provide critical support in some of the most strategic areas for the implementation of this large-scale multi-year programme. It will, therefore, be important to utilise the next three months to identify these areas of cooperation, plan for the medium and long-term recovery and reconstruction, and, where feasible, begin with the implementation of programmes.

The devastating effects of the Bam earthquake have brought back into focus the fact that Iran is highly vulnerable to natural disasters. The reconstruction programme will provide a good opportunity to reduce vulnerability to future earthquakes not only in Bam but also in other areas equally or even more vulnerable to earthquakes and other natural disasters. The UN stands ready to offer its expertise and experience, and to reinforce its partnership with the relevant Iranian authorities and institutions in this endeavour.


1 Source: International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology, Tehran, Iran

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For the latest revisions, please see OCHA Situation Report No. 15

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