Pakistan: Disaster Watch Report - Water and sanitation issue in the earth quake affected areas

Report
from Rural Development Policy Institute
Published on 20 Jun 2007
Issue: Water and Sanitation Related Issues in the Earthquake Affected Regions.

Panelists:

1) Mr. Zaheer Gardezi, Director Watson ERRA, GOP, Islamabad

2) Ms. Ismat Saeed, Public Health Coordinator, Oxfam GB, Pakistan

Host:Tariq Bhatti, Coordinator Planning, Policy and Outreach

Date: June 20, 07.

Timings: 6:00 to 7:00 PM

Highlights:

October 2005 earthquake destroyed more than 1902 water supply and sanitation schemes in NWFP and 1978 schemes in AJK. This was observed by the panelists in Disaster Watch ? an interactive discussion hosted by the Rural Development Policy Institute (RDPI) and Practical Action South Asia. Panelists from ERAA and Oxfam GB, Pakistan, conceded that almost total infrastructure of water and sanitation was destroyed whereas line department buildings also suffered intense damages.

Zaheer Hussain Gardezi, Director Watson ERRA, told that rehabilitation of water and sanitation schemes was undertaken in three phases. During the first phase of relief internally displaced people were provided drinking water. Second phase was implemented under early recovery plan, while the last phase, which is going on, is resource rehabilitation. Government coordinated with NGOs, INGOs and other local partners to ensure quality control at every phase and timely completion of the rehabilitation work. ERRA remained strict on standards for all implementing partners to provide tested and safe drinking water to people of affected areas.

Ismat Saeed of Oxfam supported contentions of Zaheer Gardezi, and maintained that difficult terrain made rehabilitation of water and sanitation more challenging, nevertheless better coordination between government and non-governmental organizations helped overcome this gigantic task.

Responding to a question, Zaheer Gardezi said "Build Back Better" is not confined to the rehabilitation of existing infrastructure only; it will go beyond and meet all futuristic needs of the affected communities. He further articulated that there are 28 organizations, working on water and sanitation. P.C.R.W.R is providing technical support to all these organizations. A team of professionals have done research in collaboration with the communities of Rawlakot, Mansehra, Batagram and Neelum. They are now working to find out localized solution of the problems. Involvement of local community is must to minimize complexities.

Sardar Ishtiaque from Bagh contradicted the ERRA official's statement and asserted that ?only in Bagh there were 100 water supply schemes and not a single one of the damaged schemes is rehabilitated completely. Moreover drinking water in Bagh and its surroundings is contaminated by 30% of Urea, and a large number of villagers are suffering from hepatitis and jaundice, especially in the area of Abbaspur.

Responding on Ishtiaque's observations Zaheer Hussain said that Istiaque perhaps miscalculated the facts, because there were 1000 schemes instead of 100, from which 574 were completely destroyed. Out of this 423 were touched and work of 263 is now completed.

Ismat Saeed added that in Bagh Oxfam has completed 38 schemes in 6 union councils and 50 more in other three union councils.

Tariq Bhatti of RDPI pointed out "that though ERRA is contributing its part this authority would dissolve after three years, therefore it is pertinent that capacity building programs for the institutions of local government are undertaken and trained human resource with all needed equipment is made available at tehsil level." He emphatically urged the authorities to take these measures for disaster resistant and safer Pakistan.