Pakistan: Earthquake Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) Operation Update n° 1 (DREF n° MDRPK016)

Situation Report
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Description of the disaster

The powerful earthquake on 24 September 2019 at 16:02 local time affected several parts of Pakistan, particularly Mirpur and Bhimber districts in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck at a shallow depth of 10km with its epicenter lying 1km southeast of Mirpur.
Furthermore, aftershocks have also been felt, notably a 4.4 magnitude on 26 September and a lesser one on 6 October with a 3.8 magnitude. According to Pakistan’s NDMA situation report dated 11 October, 38 people have lost their lives and more than 700 people have been injured by the earthquake. The high intensity earthquake also caused severe to moderate damages to houses, buildings, and other infrastructures. Over 7,400 families have been affected in districts of Mirpur and Bhimper due to damages suffered to their houses. Significant damage to the main road in Mirpur – Jatlan along the Jatlan Canal also caused damage to some 200 vehicles. Summary of losses and damages as per NDMA report1 dated 11 October as below:

Electric power supply, mobile and landline telephone services were severely disrupted in Mirpur and Bhimber districts.
The District Administration along with Pakistan NDMA, SDMA, National Police Bureau, Pakistan Armed Forces and Civil Defense have successfully put in efforts to restore communication infrastructure and responding to emergency and medical assistance needed in the affected areas, since the government has declared emergency in all hospitals of District Mirpur. PRCS deployed its local First Aid (FA) team consisting of district FA training officer, along with trained FA responders to the affected area for the provision of FA services and emergency evacuation.
As per the findings of focus group discussions, direct observation, interviews with key informants, and other stakeholders, there is a critical need of tents, non-food items (NFIs), food and rehabilitation of water sources. The need assessment shows that the district as well as local markets have a collective capacity of stock to supply the basic food and NFIs which includes water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and Shelter items too and even the required items can be increased through mutual dialogues and mobilization by placing Community Engagement and Accountability (CEA) staff and volunteers for beneficiary communication with technical support of Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (PMER) department of PRCS. Shopkeepers/vendors have the financial capacity in terms of investment for the mentioned cause, however, in normal routine they keep minimum quantity of food items as per daily/weekly demand.
Markets of Mirpur are located within the community and other affected areas of the district and thus easily accessible to all. For shelter material, they normally access big markets of Mirpur and nearby districts which are located at distance of around 25 to 45 kilometers. Thus, district and local markets come under their routine business and therefore it is easy for them to access markets physically. In both cases, road communication and local transport is available for their movement across the district, thus accessibility is almost no issue for the people.
As per the market assessment, the average rates of all consumable and non-consumable items/goods and other services collected from the local shopkeepers are equal to pre disaster situation. It is a matter of fact that while injecting money within a specified community and markets, an inflation of 5-10 per cent is expected in the general circumstances.
However, in this case, as the District Administration is fully on board and could be utilized for prices/wages stability during program duration through District Food Department/Price Review and Control Committee which is normally chaired by the Deputy Commissioner of the district being the Chief Executive.
Therefore, in this scenario, Cash Based Intervention (CBI) has been chosen as the most appropriate option since the local markets in the area are fully functional and easily accessible to the affected communities. Therefore, PRCS is going ahead with Cash Transfers as response modality. Cash Transfer has been adopted to meet the urgent needs of the most vulnerable families. Following the need assessment and response options analysis, multi-purpose unconditional and unrestricted cash grants type of cash assistance has been adopted.
Several Financial Service Providers (FSPs) are available in the districts and affected areas that includes Banks, Post offices and Telecom companies. PRCS has already signed MoUs with leading financial institutions for their services for Cash Transfer. Telenor Mobile Company has a well-known mechanism of Easy paisa being used for reliable transfer of money not only for individuals but also for/on behalf of organizations especially during disaster situation. This Financial institution has been selected due the fact that it has already provided services in Pakistan Red Crescent-Cash Transfer Programme in 2015-2016 in KP and Gilgit Baltistan (GB) in 2017-2019 in Baluchistan and some other parts of the country. In Mirpur, Telenor retailers and franchises are available within the affected zone as well as at district and tehsil headquarters, therefore Telenor was the best option. With 75 per cent literacy rate in the target area there is a good knowledge of FSPs and how they function as well. People are familiar with banks and other financial institutions and most of them are already using different mobile transfer mechanisms and remittance companies.