Survivors of Pakistan's floods lay foundations for new homes

Struggling to help her husband with a long-term respiratory illness when their wooden house was swept away by catastrophic flooding in the north of Pakistan, Gul Numa, over 80 years old, survived the initial weeks of August in a makeshift camp.

Numa and her husband, Sayed Qalandar Shah, 90, were among five families uprooted from Hassanabad village in the Chitral district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, one of the areas worst affected by waters which spread across one fifth of the country starting in July.

The villagers’ wooden and bamboo thatched houses, agricultural lands, fruit orchards, and fields of cattle were submerged under a landscape of boulders, gravel, and sand. The only bridge connecting the village to the main road was washed away.


  • 18 million people were affected by the flooding, with 1.8 million houses damaged or destroyed.
  • UNDP partially supports the house-building project to create jobs, repair basic community infrastructure, and strengthen local government offices.
  • Plans are underway to construct 2,612 units in the province’s Thatta district that will benefit 10,028 poor households.

With winter approaching, the impoverished families needed urgent assistance. But with few remaining resources they were staying in government-run camps, waiting for help to move into more permanent accommodation.

Agha Khan Planning and Building Services, a local partner of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), located Gul Numa’s son living in a nearby village and provided him with the materials to build a disaster-proof house.

The houses, made of poplar wood and stone masonry are 400 square feet and cost the equivalent of US$1,000. Their interior - living room, kitchen, storage space and washroom - is insulated from harsh winters and protected with a water-resistant roof.

Inhabitants able to take part in construction of the houses were involved in collecting stones and laying foundations for the low-cost structures whose materials and architecture are also designed to reduce wood fuel consumption by 40 to 60 percent.

The five Hassanabad families moved from their temporary shelters into new houses last week, and Gul Numa expressed gratitude for the rapid construction and facilities in her new home. “I am happy,” she said. “My new home has an attached bathroom and will not collapse in an earthquake like an ordinary house. They are even installing a cooking stove for me. I pray for the long life of these people who have done so much for us.”

UNDP aims to expand the house-building project to other parts of the country, for example to the worst-affected areas of Sindh province. Plans are underway to construct 2,612 units in the province’s Thatta district that will benefit 10,028 poor households.

Proceeds from the Match Against Poverty will go towards meeting the housing needs of displaced people like those in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in Sindh, and at other flooded sites across the country.

The efforts are part of US$120 million early recovery programme launched by the Government of Pakistan and UNDP to create jobs, repair basic community infrastructure, and strengthen local government offices.

Overall, 18 million people were affected by the flooding with 1.8 million houses damaged or destroyed. The cost of rebuilding Pakistan is estimated at US$9 billion.

Background: Pakistan floods and UNDP-EU partnership
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
Related Links
UNDP in Pakistan