TAJIKISTAN: Appeal for earthquake rebuilding support

Report
from The New Humanitarian
Published on 17 Jan 2010
LONDON, 17 January 2010 (IRIN) - While the international humanitarian community attempts to get relief to hundreds of thousands of survivors of the devastating 12 January Haiti earthquake, the Tajikistan government has appealed for support to build seismic resistant houses after some 7,000 people were affected by a 5.3-magnitude earthquake that shook the country on 2 January.

"CoES [the Tajik Committee of Emergency Situations and Civil Defence] is appealing to you with request to mobilize existing resources for the provision of urgent assistance, such as construction materials, as well as assistance in construction of standard seismic-resistant houses for the affected population," Latipov Khaibullo, Chairman of CoES, said in a recent appeal.

A 12 January report by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said 20 villages in Vanj district in the eastern Gorno-Badakhshan region were affected by the earthquake. More than 140 houses were fully destroyed and 950 partially damaged, it said.

"There is urgent need for the total reconstruction of houses. Technical guidance is crucial as over 1,000 houses have been damaged and are in need of becoming earthquake resistant. Urgent assistance for the rehabilitation of social facilities like schools and cultural centres is important, as often they are the last places to get attention," Nancy Snauwaert, a humanitarian coordination officer in the office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Vanj, told IRIN.

Vanj district continues to experience small tremors and aftershocks, according to the OCHA report. Families in the affected area have been sleeping in tents in freezing temperatures as authorities have advised people to avoid sleeping inside damaged houses, said Snauwert.

According to a 14 January report by the Rapid Emergency Assessment and Coordination Team (REACT) - a body comprising the government, UN agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) - the average tremor magnitude is three on the Richter Scale.

Though small in magnitude, the frequency of these tremors and associated noises has caused considerable concern in the local population. A magnitude-3 tremor occurred on 9 January close to the epicentre of the first earthquake and destroyed more homes, the report said.

"[While] immediate humanitarian needs are largely met, considerable more relief work needs to be done to move displaced families from schools and mosques and from host families to tents which will provide basic shelter until housing can be rebuilt or repaired. One significant outstanding immediate need which remains is for stoves and appropriate fuel to heat the tents. Wood is locally scarce and many stoves provided are not appropriate for the use of coal," REACT said.

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