One year after floods hit Pakistan, town gets a new face

15 Jul 2011

imageSANITATION WORKERS clean up streets of Khairpur Nathan Shah, Pakistan. (PHOTO: UNDP PAKISTAN)

The population of Khairpur Nathan Shah, a town of some 200,000 in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, has started to recover from large-scale floods one year ago that inundated their streets and sanitation systems with debris and other hazardous waste.

Farmers and small business owners were among those in the town who received support under a project launched in February 2011 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to remove tonnes of garbage and millions of litres of contaminated water.

Through a combination of cash-for-work by local residents and assistance from international and national relief agencies, more than 200 million litres of water was pumped from the grounds of Khairpur Nathan Shah, some 15 garbage dumps were built and the sewage network was restored.

“It’s unbelievable the way the city has been given a new face,” said Javaid, 28, a town shopkeeper. “We take responsibility for keeping it clean now after all the investment and efforts put in.”

The town’s location downstream turned it into a dumping ground for materials carried from other sites affected by the floods last July and August that submerged one fifth of the entire country and devastated the lives of more than 20 million people.

UNDP launched an appeal last September for US$120 million to meet Pakistan’s early recovery needs. US$94 million has since been raised and as of June, US$31million had been disbursed to those agencies putting UNDP projects into action.

Provincial governments and local authorities were overwhelmed by the magnitude of the floods and extensive damage to infrastructure, estimated at US$8-10 billion, as well as to homes and thousands of acres of crops and agricultural land.

Despite these challenges, with its long-standing and extensive presence in the country and financial support from a range of partners, UNDP was able to rapidly shift existing priorities as well as launch a series of new projects to help communities in the worst-affected areas start to rebuild their lives.

Along with populations in Sindh, more than one million people in the provinces of Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Paktunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan also received direct UNDP support during the first stages of their recovery.

UNDP restored 190 public buildings and helped 15,325 people to obtain or recover identity documentation. The programme also rehabilitated 8,202 acres of degraded land, directly benefiting 7,662 farmers, and distributed more than 7,000 packages of wheat, barley seed and fertilizer.

Cash-for-work initiatives employed more than 170,000 people in hundreds of projects to restore critical community infrastructure and UNDP worked directly with 17 non-governmental organizations in 20 of the worst-affected districts.