Pakistan: Earthquake disaster response - Position paper No.4

News and Press Release
Originally published

1 Operation 'Winter Race' continued unabated throughout the period under report: the 'winterisation' of tents occupied by the homeless in the camps for internally displaced people, and the provision of shelters/self-build kits enabling the habitation of 'one warm room' for those families, particularly in the rural mountain areas, still living adjacent to their demolished dwellings. These interventions were accompanied by the supply of 'winter warmth' items, namely: quilts; mattresses; stoves; clothing; shoes; hot water bottles. Additionally, food distribution, principally under the auspices of WFP, continued across the entire affected area; supply drops by the fleet of helicopters in use were impeded by the weather on relatively few days.

2 Aside from the passage of two weather depressions bringing rain and snow and misery to the earthquake region, the winter conditions have been thus far more benign than anticipated and as the mid-way point of the season passed without the advent of dire epidemics, or worse, cautious optimism was expressed as to the success of the relief operation and increasingly the focus turned to reconstruction and recovery planning, the voluntary return home of the affectees with the early advent of Spring, livelihood projects and re-activation of the local economy.


3 Thanks to the generosity of the Kuala Lumpur based charity 'Mercy Malaysia' and the Norwegian Government it has so far been possible for the Pattan Development Organisation to provide the following assistance to alleviate the situation of the homeless earthquake victims in the Kaghan Valley (Balakot Tehsil):

- Supply of 750 bamboo-framed self-help Shelter Kits

- Supply of 700 tarpaulins

- Supply of 400 wood-burning stoves

- Supply of 25 gas-balloon heaters

- Supply of 250 hot water bottles for the elderly and the vulnerable

- Supply of 350 mattresses

- Supply of 160 Quilts

- Supply of Winter clothing and Shoes

- Supply of hygiene and personal items

4 Full distribution details are shown at Annex A at the end of this report. With respect to the Pattan portable shelters, experience has led to the following progressive enhancements:

- Provision of top quality, stout bamboo poles to provide maximum sturdiness.

- Improved thickness plastic sheeting for the 'walls'.

- Provision of first one groundsheet and now a second tarpaulin for use overhead (under the metal sheeting), providing greatly improved insulation and draft exclusion.

- Provision of five (originally four) CGI (corrugated galvanized iron) grade 25 metal sheets, thereby increasing the cubic capacity of the shelter by one fifth.

- Provision of a dedicated construction team in each new location to erect 'model' example shelters as a guide for the villagers.

5 Conjointly these measures have resulted in the availability of a vastly improved winter refuge/transitional shelter. Furthermore, the rural villagers have been adept at installing safely the wood-burning stoves (plus 'elbow' and flu piping) that have been supplied, to create a snug retreat from the cold. The unit price of the 'de luxe' shelter has been held at $185; the specially fabricated stoves cost $13.50 each. Thus the package costs together a highly competitive total of $198.50 (including transportation) via procurement at favourable rates by the Pattan office in Multan (1,000 km south from the affected area), making it the most economic shelter being provided during the current emergency.


6 Pattan Development Organisation continues to provide a haven for 19 homeless families (15 from Balakot Tehsil and 4 from Muzaffarabad) totalling 93 family members). The full time Camp Administrator supported by two Assistants (male and female -- the latter herself an earthquake survivor recruited from Balakot town) continue to work to provide on-site management commensurate with Sphere Project 'minimum standards' guidelines. Winterisation measures successfully pre-empted adverse effects from the onset of the winter weather and rain, and since that time the majority of tents have now been replaced with Pattan portable shelters. The camp site is on porous river silt adjacent to the River Kunhar (albeit 2-3 metres above river level, and has therefore suffered none of the 'paddy-field flooding effect' endured by other camps in the valley situated on clay-based agricultural land.

7 Transitional Planning. It is thought that the Pattan camp will empty during the month of March and will thereafter be closed, having served its purpose. However, to transform hypothesis into hard data, a survey is being conducted of our families to ascertain their hopes and intentions and to determine what further help can be extended. The Concept Paper outlining the rationale for this planning mechanism is attached at Annex B to this Position Paper, together with a copy of the Questionnaire that is being utilized.


8 With the advent of donor funding for this livelihood second phase development programme, the Women's Handicraft Income Generation Project is now securely underway. The $5,000 thus far obtained for the beneficiaries is sufficient to provide a minimum of 100 Pakistan-made hand-operated sewing machines @ Rs.2,300 each from Ghari Habbibullah (in the disaster area, 15 kms from Balakot), together with Rs.700 for a 'start-up' kit (scissors, threads, needles, silks, tapestry rings etc), converting to $50.00. The machines are being allocated to identified skilled practitioners in our adopted villages (male as well as female, but priority being given to widows/female-headed households where possible) and with 40 so far distributed the first sales of 'Kaghan Valley hand-made articles from the earthquake zone' have already been made in Islamabad. It is intended that this enterprise should be given top-priority in the coming weeks and it is hoped that other donors may be forthcoming to permit an increase in the number of participants. Additionally, a dedicated Handicrafts Centre has been set up in the Pattan Camp -- see illustration.


Support of Vulnerable Women (Balakot Tehsil), to include: the newly-widowed; elderly females; those pregnant; newly disabled women; the trautmatised, etc. The Concept Paper has now been accepted for receipt of donor funding. Requisite statutory documentation is being prepared and thereafter recruitment of the all-female Project staff will be set in hand.

Support for Disaster Disabled Children & Young Adults (Balakot Tehsil); this Concept Paper also under active consideration for funding.

Our recuperation phase Kaghan Valley Cultural Preservation Programme awaits donor interest.

Our Community Sports and Recreational Activities Project and the Children's Educational Support Programme continue in the Pattan Camp, awaiting donor support for extension to our adopted villages. Both of these important rehabilitation phase interventions are high-impact/low cost.


9 On behalf of the beneficiaries, much gratitude is expressed to Mercy Malaysia and to the Government of Norway for their substantial and generous support of the Relief Phase 'Winter Warmth' programmes documented above (and in Annex A). And again, our sincerest appreciation to Mercy Malaysia for such invaluable support for the Women's Handicrafts Livelihood Project with its vital socio-economic aspects.

10 In the execution of our Projects and relief work in Balakot the presence of the 32nd Azad Kashmir Regiment (Lt Col Saeed) has helped enormously, as have the distribution Jeeps provided by IOM. For these contributions Pattan Development Organisation extends grateful thanks to all concerned.

(John M. Lane)
Disaster Management Coordinator


A. Operation Winter Race, Winter Warmth Items and Handicraft Project

B. Transitional Planning: Rationale and Survey Questionnaire

C. Activity Illustrations