Seventy per cent of those affected by floods in Pakistan want reconstruction to generate jobs as the country rebuilds following the disaster last year, according to a new survey released today (Wednesday, 6 April 2011) by international agency Oxfam. The survey also found that 85 per cent saw increased poverty as one of the most serious problems facing the country in the aftermath of the floods.
The poll of 2,040 people, carried out between 15 and 24 January 2011 in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan and Sindh provinces, provides a compelling insight into the needs and desires of those who survived Pakistan's worst disaster in living memory. Oxfam hopes the survey will ensure that the views of Pakistan's flood affected are heard as the country gears up for reconstruction.
Oxfam's Country Director in Pakistan Neva Khan, said:
"People want jobs. They are not looking for hand outs. They want to work their way out of poverty and rebuild a better life than before. They are calling for food they can afford, healthcare for when they are sick, and somewhere to live – the most basic of basics. The Pakistani authorities and foreign donors need to make sure the Pakistan that emerges from the floods is able to help people satisfy these key needs."
The survey, conducted by Pakistani NGO Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) for Oxfam, found that - as well as jobs – those affected say the availability of affordable food (34 per cent), homes (23 per cent) and healthcare (22 per cent) also needs to be prioritised as reconstruction begins. The poll also shows that over a third (36 per cent) of flood affected people see corruption in relief and reconstruction efforts as one of the more serious problems facing the country.
Recent media reports indicate food prices in Pakistan are rising, making staples unaffordable for many of the poorest in a country where the World Bank estimates nearly a quarter of the population live below the poverty line.
The survey also showed that those affected by the flood had mixed experiences when it came to relief providers. Sixty-six per cent of respondents said they were "satisfied" or "extremely satisfied" with aid from international agencies such as Oxfam. Forty-two per cent said the same for relief provided by the government of Pakistan.
The government of Pakistan has yet to publish its reconstruction strategy. The delay has meant that urgent rebuilding and recovery work has barely started eight months on from the disaster. The Pakistani authorities need to urgently set out a clear plan for reconstruction which puts the needs of the most vulnerable at its heart and embraces transparency and accountability. Donors should encourage the government to develop a reconstruction strategy focused on people's needs and help ensure that it is implemented.
"There is no time to waste when the future of so many is at stake. It is clear what millions of Pakistan's most vulnerable people want. Unless those who are planning Pakistan's recovery from the floods take these needs into account, they risk wasting scarce resources and missing an opportunity to build back Pakistan fairer and stronger."
Some 18 million people were affected by the floods that ravaged Pakistan in July and August of 2010. According to the UN, 1.6 million homes were destroyed and more than 5 million jobs were lost. The UN fund for the response to the Pakistan floods is still seeking a third of its funding needs.