UNDP to help flood-affected Pakistanis reclaim lost ID papers

14 Oct 2010

The records of the agriculture department of Nowhsera in Pakistan have been badly damaged by the floods.
(Photo: UNDP Pakistan)

Islamabad - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is to set up a network of one-stop-shops in Pakistan to help hundreds of thousands of people estimated to have lost essential legal records during the flood disaster that has devastated the country in recent months.

Twenty Citizen Protection Centres will offer easy access in four provinces of the country to information about reclaiming identity papers as well as applying for relief and legal aid for those among the 20 million people affected by the floods, which destroyed 1.9 million houses.

“People are rebuilding their lives from scratch and these basic ID documents give them a status that allows them to not only claim and acquire compensation in a timely manner but to have access to basic services,” said Jean-Luc Stalon, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Pakistan.

Among the most essential documents are birth, death and marriage certificates, records of property and land titles, and educational certificates. The centres will help applicants in districts of the worst flood-affected provinces: Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber Paktunkhwa.

In the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa district of Nowshera, an estimated 55 to 60 percent have lost important documents. Gul Pari, a 30-year-old single mother of five, lost all her documentation when her home was destroyed.

“I feel that I have lost evidence of my existence as my house collapsed. I have now to re-establish my identity and don’t know how to do it,” said Pari.

Fifty-year-old Amir Khan, also from Nowshera, said: “The only home I knew is gone. If I don’t get my identity documents, I may not be able to register for the housing damage compensation provided by the government,” he said.

National Identity Cards are necessary to begin the process of claiming assistance because they verify information about applicants, helping national authorities and agencies to determine the level and type of assistance - for example, cash payments or relief items - and how to deliver it.

As Pakistan’s government works to restore its own systems and to replace lost documentation, protection centres help to avoid gaps which could otherwise create serious legal, social and economic difficulties for flood survivors.

UNDP will work with volunteers to help especially vulnerable members of flood-affected communities – including women and Afghan refugees – to prepare papers and present them at government offices for reissuing of lost documents.

A recent joint-needs assessment by the Government, the UN and civil society organizations stressed that restoration of legal records is critical in affected communities to prevent further social marginalization and distress.

By Mehreen Saeed