1 October 2010 The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Pakistan today launched a $120 million, one-year early recovery scheme to help those affected by the worst flooding in living memory rebuild their lives.
The scheme is part of a broader UN emergency response plan and seeks to restore livelihoods through job creation, repairing basic infrastructure and helping local government offices get public services up and running.
“There is not a moment to lose,” said UNDP Country Director for Pakistan Toshihiro Tanaka. “Early recovery is crucial for the country’s long-term development.”
He stressed that it is essential that winter crops are planted so that millions of farmers do not become dependent on food assistance, underlining the importance of generating jobs through cash-for-work schemes to help affected communities become self-reliant.
The new programme seeks to revive livelihoods across 39 of the most affected districts by offering grants to 2,500 small and home-based businesses, seeds and fertilizers.
It will also put into place 2,000 infrastructure projects to provide thousands of solar-powered water pumps and disaster-proof homes.
More than 1,800 have been killed in the flooding which has inundated one fifth of Pakistan since July.
Some 20 million people have been significant affected and nearly three quarters of roads and bridges in flood-hit areas were washed away, along with millions of homes and livelihoods.
“The experts and technologies required to start the rebuilding and recovery process are out there,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark. “One of our main tasks is to bring together national and international partners to roll out strategic programmes that will immediately put this expertise and equipment to use for the benefit of flood victims.”
For its part, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced today that it is scaling up its food aid to reach more than 7 million people in Pakistan, which is entering the third month of the worst flooding in its history.
The agency began distributing life-saving rations soon after the floods hit the Asian nation in late July, providing aid to an average of 6 million people per month while transitioning towards early recovery activities.
But with severe flooding continuing in the south and needs on the upswing, WFP said it will ramp up its operations to reach 7.1 million people this month.
Early recovery activities have begun in the northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkwa (KPK), where the agency is helping nearly 18,000 families through food-for-work activities, including rehabilitating farmland, roads and irrigation systems destroyed by flooding.
Seed kits have also been distributed to 6,500 families in KPK to counter food insecurity so that they can grow their own vegetables and sell the surplus at markets.
WFP is also prepositioning essential food items in KPK, Kashmir and other areas that will be inaccessible during the winter, the agency stated in a news release.
It has helped to deliver over 3,500 tons of food, medicine and other items to isolated areas of KPK, Sindh and Punjab provinces.
At the same time, it notes that its food assistance programme for flood-affected communities faces a $414 million shortfall.
While dealing with food needs, WFP has continued supplying food for an additional 1.1 million people uprooted by conflict in KPK and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) as part of a separate, ongoing operation.
The agency also reported today that a helicopter used by the UN Humanitarian Air Service, the WFP-operated air service for the humanitarian community, to deliver high-energy biscuits to people affected by flooding made a forced landing in southern Sindh province.
The 12 people, including WFP staff, on board the chopper all survived and were rescued by a Pakistani military unit near the crash site. The injured were transported to a Chinese military hospital.
Meanwhile, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that relief activities need to be strengthened in Sindh province.
It also said that malnutrition could increase, and that acute diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections, skin infections and suspected malaria are the leading reasons people seek health care.
Earlier this week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Turkish diplomat Rauf Engin Soysal as the new UN Special Envoy for Assistance to Pakistan, replacing Jean Maurice Ripert of France, who has served in the post since last August.
Mr. Ban created the special envoy position last year to help the Government and the international community to respond to needs in the wake of Pakistan’s displacement crisis, which at its peak had forced over 2 million people from their homes in the country’s north-west.
News Tracker: past stories on this issue