PAKISTAN: Rehabilitation plans for flood-affected areas

ISLAMABAD, 28 March 2005 (IRIN) - With improving weather conditions in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP), the focus is gradually shifting to the rehabilitation of local communities which have suffered nearly three months of heavy rain, snowfall, avalanches, landslides and flooding.

"The relief operation is almost over now and the damage assessment and rehabilitation proposals have been forwarded to the federal government. We are awaiting the approval and allocation of funds for that," Ghulam Farooq Khan, provincial relief commissioner, told IRIN on Monday from Peshawar in the NWFP.

Over 26,000 houses are reported to have collapsed while more than 76,000 were partially damaged in the 24 districts of the NWFP. There has been severe devastation in the districts of Mansehra, Buner, Shangla, Chitral, Swat, Dir Upper, Dir Lower, Battagram, Nowshera, Peshwar, Charsadda, Hangu and Lakki Marwat according to local reports.

The relief authorities announced compensation ranging from US $67 to $117 depending on the type of damage suffered. Cattle owners are being offered between $8 to $16 in compensation. The authorities are also working on a crop and orchard damage assessment.

At least 368 people were killed and scores injured in house collapses, landslides and avalanches across the province in the severe conditions, according to local officials. The transport infrastructure has also been badly damaged.

"The entire road network has scrambled [been disrupted] everywhere particularly in the hilly terrain of the northern districts and need reconstruction. For this, relevant highway authorities are working on damage assessment reports," Khan said.

A second spell of heavy downpours during March caused huge devastation on the plains and along the banks of the River Swat and the Kabul River in the central districts of Charsadda, Nowshera and the provincial capital, Peshawar.

"Overflowing rivers of Swat and Kabul have played havoc in many of the small riverside villages, where hundreds of people were forced to migrate to safer places after gushing water entered. At least 16 villages alone along the River Swat have been reported to be heavily damaged and the overflowing water not only disrupted traffic but destroyed the standing crops and washed away cattle," Dr Quaid Saeed, co-ordinator of the UN interagency co-ordination committee in NWFP, told IRIN from Peshawar.

"Continuous rains resulting in landslides are causing more structural damage at the moment, as the hilly areas are almost without any forest cover to put any resistance and keep the soil intact," Saeed noted. Moreover, the district authorities have vacated several nearby villages as a precautionary measure.

However, there should now be a respite in the weather. The current wet spell of the winter monsoon is over, according to meteorologist Muhammad Saeed at the National Meteorological Office in the capital Islamabad.

"There are a few spells of low intensity rains in the northern parts of the country over April but overall the intensive winter weather is over now," Saeed told IRIN.

Theme (s): Economy, Governance, Natural Disasters,


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