Pakistan

Keeping recovery on course: challenges facing the Pakistan earthquake response one year on

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Survivors have begun rebuilding their homes, communities, and livelihoods - but as another hazardous Himalayan winter looms, urgent efforts are needed to ensure that people stay safe and the reconstruction process is not derailed.

1 Summary and recommendations

More than five million people were affected - including 73,000 confirmed dead, at least that many left injured, and 3.3 million people made homeless - when a powerful earthquake registering 7.6 on the Richter Scale rocked Pakistani-administered Kashmir (PAK) and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) on 8 October 2005.

The devastated region, covering 30,000 sq km, is characterised by difficult mountainous terrain, poor infrastructure and, in many places, severe poverty. It is also a land of extreme weather conditions: heavy winter snowfalls, torrential monsoon rains, and baking summer heat. These conditions, combined with aftershocks, seasonal floods, and frequent landslides, have made the relief and reconstruction task a formidable one.

In spite of these challenges, much has been achieved. Thanks to a relatively mild winter, the resilience of the survivors, plus the combined efforts of the Pakistani authorities, aid agencies, and donors, a secondary humanitarian disaster was averted. Survivors have begun rebuilding their lives.

During the emergency phase, Oxfam International helped almost one million men, women, and children by providing water and sanitation facilities, winterised tents and transitional shelter kits, and livelihood support.

However, the task of reconstruction is far from over and hundreds of thousands of people remain vulnerable, particularly as winter approaches once again. The government's reconstruction plans have for the most part been finalised and implementation has begun. Assessments of land safety and damage to houses and water supplies have been conducted.

However, the progress of recovery has been patchy, and the pace of construction of housing and infrastructure has been slow. At least 1.8 million people have not begun rebuilding their homes; most of them are in makeshift shelters that offer limited protection against the coming cold. Last winter was relatively kind; this one is predicted less likely to be. Urgent action is needed to ensure that communities are safe, warm and healthy this winter.

Some of the most pressing needs are:

- temporary winterised shelter for people living in rural and mountain areas who are unable to rebuild, as well as upgraded winterised shelter for people in camps (especially in NWFP)

- solutions for people who have lost land permanently and for those who can't return home for other reasons

- effective mass communication strategies to promote seismically-safe reconstruction and to inform both men and women of their entitlements

- collection and analysis of data, split by gender, to support well-targeted policies

- sustained political, technical, and financial support for the reconstruction effort

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