Women break ground to rebuild villages in Pakistan

Shahzadi stands outside a school she painted. (Photo: UNDP)
Shahzadi stands outside a school she painted. (Photo: UNDP)

Until last year, 21-year-old Shahzadi worked the land like most people in her remote, rural community in southern Pakistan. But today she’s breaking ground in a new field.

Shahzadi, who lost her left arm in a childhood accident, has been helping to rebuild homes in Sindh province, which was devastated by last year’s July-August floods.

After having missed out on an education when she was younger, Shahzadi signed up for a week-long vocational training programme offered by the Indus Resource Centre (IRC), a partner of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).


  • The 2010 floods in Pakistan caused an estimated $9.7 billion in damages.
  • UNDP launched a US$120m early recovery programme to revive flood-affected communities across the 39 most devastated districts.
  • Residents from 20 south Pakistan villages have gained vocational training and can now earn wages while rebuilding their community.

“I learnt a trade and was also provided with tools to practise my skill professionally. [Since then] I have worked to rebuild our village school under the cash for work programme,” explains Shahzadi.

Following the training, she also received a cash payment of US$170 for two months of work painting residential and public buildings in her home village of Safal Solangi, which was submerged for two months after the floods.

Together, she and her brother – with whom she has lived since her parents died – helped in the rehabilitation of their village.

In total, 42 women and 87 men from 20 villages in the surrounding district of Qambar Shahdatkot have participated in the vocational training programme. They have learnt trades such as painting, masonry, stitching, plumbing and electrical systems management, and have been given the necessary tools to apply their new skills, enabling them to join United Nations (UN)-supported cash for work programmes.

The villages of Qambar Shahdatkot district, which lie on the border with Balochistan province, were one of the worst-hit areas of Sindh in the floods.

The residents of this area are not just struggling to rebuild their homes and community buildings, but are also having trouble growing enough food to eat. Following the floods, agricultural lands in the area are still not able to support crops due to excess salinity.

Thankfully, however, the vocational education programme has provided residents with alternative ways of supporting themselves.

One trainee, Rasheed Ahmed, says learning to paint will help him earn a living for some months to come.

“I will soon be moving to nearby towns and cities to find work painting houses and other buildings,” he says.

UNDP is supporting other IRC projects to rebuild the infrastructure in the area. More than 150 local people have been employed to help rehabilitate the water supply, drainage systems and access roads throughout Qambar Shahdatkot.

UNDP has also launched a US$120m early recovery programme to help flood-affected communities across 39 of the most devastated districts start rebuilding their lives.

The one-year project, which is part of a broader UN emergency response plan, aims to restore livelihoods through creating jobs, repairing basic community infrastructure, and strengthening local government offices to get public services running again.

Shahzadi is now teaching her vocational skill to others in her village, and looks forward to doing more building work in her community.

“I am now looking for work in this field and I’m willing to work wherever similar projects are running,” she says.

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