Sowing seeds of recovery in post-flood Pakistan

A South Punjab farmer surveys sprouting seeds, which he received in a package from UNDP.
A South Punjab farmer surveys seeds he received from UNDP. (Photo: UNDP Pakistan)

“My half-acre of paddy field, two hens and goat were washed away in the flooding,” reports Imam Bibi, a 60-year-old farmer from Hindu Wan village in Punjab, Pakistan. “This farming package comes as a blessing at this dismal time.”

Bibi was among the nearly 10,000 recipients of a seed and fertilizer package distributed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the province of Punjab, the site of more than half of the country’s cultivated land and where three quarters of the population depend upon farming for their livelihood.

Highlights

  • UNDP is helping to rehabilitate damaged farmlands in Pakistan’s flood-stricken province of Punjab.
  • 7,398 packages of seed and organic fertilizer have been distributed to farmers in Punjab, and 125,000 acres of land have been rehabilitated.
  • The floods in Pakistan ruined 6.2 million acres of crops and destroyed 0.5 million tons of wheat stores.

The flooding that began in Pakistan in July 2010 destroyed 270,000 acres of arable land and disrupted the crop-planting cycle.

“Plantation of winter crops is critical to ensure food for the next cycle,” said Jean-Luc Stalon, UNDP Deputy Country Director. “We are providing US$550,000 to support flood-affected farmers in Punjab in planting winter crops such as wheat, barley, and oats.”

UNDP’s rapid support to farming communities in these areas was possible due to its presence in, and high level of expertise on, Punjab, where it has operated a land re-fertilization project with the provincial government since 2006.

Under the re-fertilization project, 125,000 acres of highly saline land have been rehabilitated through digging irrigation wells and fertilizing soil with minerals like gypsum. As a result, production levels for wheat and rice crops in the reclaimed area rose from zero to one tonne per acre.

While some of this progress was set back, UNDP quickly shifted priorities in the wake of the floods to meet the urgent needs of the tens of thousands of inhabitants of the 90 villages in Jhang and Sargodh, where more than 1,400 flood-affected households each received 50 kilos of seed and bags of urea-based fertilizer for more than 4,000 acres of crop plantation.

Such provisions are invaluable to recipients like Bibi, whose husband is too elderly and frail to make an income. Bibi plans to support her household by using the seed and fertilizer package she received from UNDP to re-cultivate her land, and she will also receive a livestock package, including two goats.

Facing a new season ahead, she says: “I am looking forward to a good wheat harvest in six months.”

Background: Pakistan floods and UNDP-EU partnership
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Background Pakistan Floods

 

In July 2010, heavy monsoon rains in the northern part of Pakistan, gradually spreading south, caused almost one fifth of the country to become flooded. The floods affected over 18 million people and caused widespread displacement and destruction of resources including crops, housing, buildings, roads and irrigation infrastructure. The situation was made worse by new floodings in 2011 and 2012.

 

UNDP Early Recovery Programme

In October 2010, UNDP launched an Early Recovery Programme, targeting 29 flood-affected districts. The programme mobilized USD 85 million from several donors, out of which the EU, through its Instrument for Stability, provided USD 20 million in March 2011. The programme ended in March 2013.

Some Programme Results

The programme supported about 5.5 million people in livelihoods restoration, community rehabilitation and resilience building in about 4000 villages across the 29 districts.

 

Temporary employment benefitted 1.3 million people through cash-for-work schemes to rehabilitate community-based infrastructure (roads, bridges, culverts, irrigation canals).

 

The formation of over 10,000 community organizations was supported, and their members trained in disaster risk management and the establishment of community-based early warning systems and risk mitigation plans.

 

60 micro-hydro power units were restored, and 2,200 biogas plants were established to provide communities with access to alternate energy. The programme also provided solar water pumps, street lights and heaters to the affected communities.

Read more about the programme in the project brief
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