UNDP responds to Pakistan floods, plans for recovery

30 Aug 2010

Displaced people fleeing Sindh try to salvage their livestock.
Photo: Abdul Majeed Goraya (IRIN)

The United Nations system is continuing to save lives and lay the foundations for Pakistan's recovery as the floodwaters start to recede, exposing the large scale of devastation and humanitarian need across the country.

According to the Government of Pakistan, more than 1,600 people have died and 17.2 million are affected. Millions of homes and livelihoods have been obliterated and 70 percent of roads and bridges in the flooded areas have been washed away.

Pakistan has been one of eight countries piloting a "One UN" approach to coordinating delivery of ongoing programmes, drawing on the differing strengths and focuses of the multiple agencies working in the country.

In the flood disaster zones, UN agencies have been directly delivering food, water, shelter and other assistance directly to affected populations as well as supporting the government and other institutions to conduct surveys of the damage.

"National institutions have played an important role in coordination of the flood response," said Rabia Khattak, chief of the UN Development Programme's (UNDP) Crisis Prevention and Recovery Unit. "However this disaster has also highlighted the need to strengthen the capacities of district-level organizations as they are the first responders to a crisis."

UNDP supported the establishment of Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority and province-level authorities in the wake of the deadly 2005 Kashmir earthquake.

It also provided financial and technical support to the National Institute of Disaster Management which provided training to more than 3,000 government officers (including 700 women), members of civil society and students, improving disaster-risk reduction capabilities and preparedness in 47 districts.

Among those involved in UNDP support activities was disaster risk management coordinator Omar Zaman Malik who trained 90 community volunteers in the Jhang district of Punjab province in emergency response.

Mr. Malik, the volunteers, and the UNDP-trained district coordination officer were able to save 1,800 people, as well as their belongings and many of their cattle. Malik also brought a team of 14 physicians and 12 paramedics to communities in the district, resulting in access to medical care for 2,600 people.

The next step for UNDP will be in early recovery activities to help meet flood victims’ needs beyond immediate humanitarian requirements, and to deliver basic services to their communities as early as possible in the immediate aftermath of the flood.

This programme will help affected Pakistanis to become self-reliant, resume income-generating activities, return home, rebuild local infrastructure, and regain a sense of normalcy, making it the first step towards full recovery.

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