Pakistan: Swiss earthquake emergency response - From relief to reconstruction and rehabilitation 2005-2008

from Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
Published on 24 Mar 2006
After completion of the Swiss emergency response to the earthquake hit areas a longer term reconstruction and rehabilitation programme is about to be launched. Switzerland will focus on three main areas: reconstruction of public infrastructure, support of private housing reconstruction in close cooperation with ERRA and restoration of livelihoods. Complementary, support for improving the national system of disaster prevention and preparedness is currently being negotiated with the Government of

Pakistan (GoP). For the emergency response Switzerland has so far spent 11 Million Swiss francs. The overall financial forecast, amounting 50 Million Swiss francs for the period 2005-2008, including reconstruction and rehabilitation, is in line with the Swiss pledge made during the November 05 Donors Conference, held in Islamabad.

Swift and effective Relief Operation from October 2005 till January 2006

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) through its Humanitarian Aid Wing (SHA) initiated relief operation in NWFP immediately after the earthquake occurred. On October 8th, an aircraft equipped for relief operations and three UNDAC (United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination) experts were placed at the disposal of the UNOCHA to coordinate the humanitarian aid on the spot. On October 9th, an emergency operations team with nine experts from SHA arrived in the disaster area and distribution of relief goods in the Mansehra (Kaghan Valley) and Batagram district was immediately started. While in the Kaghan Valley the distribution was relying on the longstanding SDC funded Community Based Natural Resource Management Programme (CBRM) and its partners network (e.g. Sungi, SRSP) in the Batagram district a direct cooperation was established with the local administration, locally elected representatives and village committees. Close coordination and successful cooperation with the Pakistani Army and different multilateral organizations was maintained throughout the whole operation. The relief goods, mainly tents, were distributed through all means of transportation, including 37 mules which were handed over to communities around Balakot later on.

From November onwards, priority was given to the so called "winterization program" for the affected population that remained in the villages. SDC was among the first organisations that started distributing construction material (CGI sheets) and tools - instead of tents - which by complementing recyclable rubble provided winter-proof shelters. Related supplements such as wood stoves, blankets, sleeping bags, tarpaulins, kitchen sets, children's clothes etc. were also distributed. This support reached 10'000 households living in higher altitudes (above 5000ft) and another 5000 households in the lower areas of Batagram and Abottabad.

Additionally, 50 emergency shelters were set up to substitute collapsed Schools and Basic Health Units, the locations being identified by the district administration.

During the first weeks of the emergency, SDC also provided medical assistance. Two medical containers fully equipped as operation theatre and accompanied by two surgeons were sent to Mansehra to reinforce capacities of the local hospital. This equipment was handed over on March, 9th, to the Health Department of NWFP.

All in all, the SDC and the Swiss Red Cross shipped some 300 tonnes of aid material from Switzerland to Pakistan by 4 special flights.

A commitment to Reconstruction and Livelihood Restoration

Following the overall successful relief operation, SDC stays committed to assist the Government of Pakistan (GoP) by shifting the support towards reconstruction and livelihood restoration in Mansehra and Batagram districts. The programme will be structured along the following action lines:

(Re-) Construction of public infrastructure

In particular earthquake-proof schools and Basic Health Units (BHUs) in five selected Union Councils, covering roughly 50 villages, will be focused on. This action line will be carried out in close cooperation with local authorities and partners.

Support of private housing reconstruction

SDC will support the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) by building and running two Housing Reconstruction Centres (HRCs) which will provide training in earthquake resistant construction methods and technical assistance to partner organizations, local authorities, artisans and self-builders. The two centres will coordinate reconstruction of estimated 50-60'000 private houses. Beside this, SDC will manage and monitor the GoPs "Cash for Reconstruction Program" in the program area.

Livelihood restoration

This action line includes gender sensitive restoration of livelihoods, ensuring equal access of the affected population. Agricultural inputs such as seeds, livestock and fertilizers will be provided as a supplementary, but integrated part of the SDC funded CBRM programme. The beneficiaries will be some 10'400 households which additionally will receive a 2-3 years capacity building programme, e.g. in sustainable natural resource management.

Thus, the above action lines represent a continued engagement within the project area where SDC through CBRM has been involved prior to the earthquake since 1997. This implies that the Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Programme is an integral part of the overall SDC programme in Pakistan following a Human Rights Based Approach.

Disaster Prevention and Preparedness

Following an INSARAG Mission (International Search and Rescue Advisory Group), carried out in January 2006, SDC is committed to provide support to the Government of Pakistan for the improvement of the National System of Disaster Prevention and Preparedness. The scope and extent of assistance is still subject to further negotiations.