Pakistan flood relief efforts continue on World Humanitarian Day

Aug 19, 2010

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New York - As United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) today mark World Humanitarian Day, highlighting the need for life-saving work around the world, efforts continue in Pakistan to reach more than 15 million people trapped or uprooted in critically flooded areas of the country.

August 19th is the anniversary of the attack against UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2003, and the occasion also commemorates humanitarian workers killed in the line of duty, from Algeria and Afghanistan to Democratic Republic of the Congo.

An objective of World Humanitarian Day is to draw attention to the needs of populations living in crisis situations like that of Pakistan.

While efforts to deliver food, clean water, basic sanitation and healthcare to those in flooded areas of Pakistan are expected to continue for at least the next three months, the international community faces the challenge of bridging the gap between immediate needs and longer term recovery.

As in other emergencies around the world, involvement of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) begins at the outset of a crisis, conducting assessments of how life-saving efforts can be put into action while helping affected populations rebuild their self-sufficiency.

The resulting projects are part of early recovery efforts which aim to restore basic functioning of essential services and lay foundations for communities to find more permanent housing and employment opportunities, and for governments to set up financial, legislative and security systems.

In 2009, UNDP supported early recovery initiatives in all regions of the world, including more than 80 developing countries.

Starting just eight days after the January 12th earthquake in Haiti this year, UNDP’s programming employed more than 120,000 Haitians to clear small rubble, clean streets, and rehabilitate blocked drainage systems. In addition to generating much-needed income, the cash-for-work programme gave Haitians a role in their own recovery.

When Cyclone Aila battered southern Bangladesh in May 2009, UNDP set up a programme for the worst affected areas that included paid employment, during an estimated 37,400 work days, for villagers to repair roads. The programme also gave grants for carpentry and sewing tools to villagers setting up small enterprises and home-based income generating activities. The initiative benefited over 4,000 families.

Occupied Palestinian territory
UNDP led early recovery efforts following the Israeli military operation in Gaza in December 2008 - January 2009. Despite the challenging environment, UNDP conducted a range of surveys on recovery priorities for Palestinian people and filled gaps in delivery of food. It also worked with 53 NGOs to provide vocational skills to about 20,000 trainees, to offer home care for 1,300 disabled people, to provide psychosocial support to 3,500 people, and to organize recreational events for 9,000.

As well as collaborating with other agencies in collection of data on the early recovery needs of populations affected by floods, UNDP has also helped district disaster management authorities to evacuate areas of southern Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and established a district resource center, in the town of Haripur, that monitors the flood situation around the clock.

UNDP – Global Lead for Early Recovery
In the aftermath of the southeast Asia tsunami, in 2005, UNDP was designated the global lead agency for early recovery in the system of humanitarian cluster teams which also include agriculture, camp management, education, shelter, emergency telecommunications, health, logistics, nutrition, protection and water, sanitation and hygiene.

The aim of the cluster team system was to bring together UN agencies, NGOs and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement to increase coordination of humanitarian action and ensure delivery of assistance serves the needs of those most at risk in crisis situations.

Remembering Humanitarian Responders
Recognizing the tens of millions currently living through disasters and conflicts around the world, and the 102 people who died performing humanitarian duties last year, on August 19th humanitarian workers will march through the centre of Geneva, Switzerland, the base for some of the world’s largest humanitarian agencies.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will mark World Humanitarian Day 2010 by laying a wreath in front of a memorial plaque at UN headquarters in New York, with the following message:

“On World Humanitarian Day, let us remember those in need. Those who have fallen while trying to help them. And those who continue to give aid, undeterred by the dangers they face - for the sake of building a safer, better world.”

For more information on World Humanitarian Day, go to

UNDP Around the world