UNDP to build disaster-proof houses in Pakistan

29 Sep 2010

Pakistan: UNDP to build disaster-proof houses for flood-affected communities

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is to build thousands of disaster-resistant houses for those uprooted around a coastal area severely affected by the floods which have devastated Pakistan during the last two months.

As part of its early recovery efforts from the monsoon floods that started in July, UNDP will build approximately 5,000 houses in the Thatta District of Sindh Province, where as many as 800,000 people were left homeless. Some 86 percent of Thatta’s population lives below the poverty line.

“The floods brought a lot of pain and uncertainty to people and we need to help them get back to normal life”, said Abdul Qadir, UNDP Environment Specialist in Pakistan. “One of the first steps in rebuilding lives is to help people get a roof over their heads,” he said.

UNDP builds disaster-resistant houses in
flood-affected Pakistan.
(Photo: UNDP Pakistan)
The houses are made from hollow block masonry which is cemented with compressed soil and reinforced with wire to bolster the structure against earthquakes and strong winds. Pyramid-shaped roofs allow water run-off and arched foundations aim to position the houses above rising water levels.

Houses in Thatta and the port city of Karachi that were already constructed from these materials withstood the force of the recent floods as well as Cyclone Phet in June and a recent 4.5 magnitude earthquake. The materials also reduce potential greenhouse gas emissions and minimize use of timber sources.

The materials will be manufactured locally, creating jobs and income-earning opportunities for communities as they start to rebuild their lives. Each house costs US$2,000 to build and will include one bedroom, a kitchen, washing facilities and an area for animals.

House ownership titles will also be provided to women, who were worst affected by the floods and are now in highly vulnerable economic situations.

The disaster resistant and energy efficient units were piloted in Pakistan by a UNDP project before the latest flood disaster. The pre-existing gap between housing supply and demand has grown dramatically with more than 1.8 million houses nationwide damaged or destroyed.

While emergency assistance remains a priority in all flood-affected provinces, the movement of people back to their homes in areas where waters have receded means that relief and early recovery efforts will be carried out in parallel.

Housing is particularly important in areas that will require winterized shelter in the coming months. The number of people who will be unable to return home even after the floodwaters fully recede is not yet clear, but will be significant.