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Earthquake Disaster Response                                  Position Paper No.1
 

Earthquake + 42 Days

 

 
   
         
         

CONTEXT

 
1. General
Six weeks on from the 8th October earthquake in northern Pakistan the officially acknowledged death toll is now over 87,000 and is unofficially expected to exceed 100,000.  Half of the casualties were children; throughout the affected region some 17,000 school buildings collapsed.  The total number of injured is put at around 150,000.  The cost of long term reconstruction of the affected region is currently assessed at $5.2 billion.
2.
Tented Camps
Most now have electricity supplies (grid or generated); many have access to water piped, tanks or bladders.  Redress of the lack of proper sanitation arrangements (latrines) remains a common and pressing problem, leading to so-called free lance arrangements and emotive reports referring to filth depots.  There are contradictory reports on the existence, scale and control of the resultant/potential health hazards (watery diarrhoea/cholera/typhoid/tetanus).
3. Onset of Winter
.  A depression has brought significant rain to the earthquake region in the past fortnight or so, with the snow line progressively descending from 9,000 feet to the current level of around 7,000 feet.  Recently re-opened mountain roads and tracks are becomingly increasingly muddy and difficult.  With the return of high pressure, short term forecast temperatures are down to -3ْ to -12ْC for the highest villages with minimum temperatures for Balakot and Muzaffarabd around 5ْ C.  Mountain thunderstorms are accompanied by strong wind gusts. It is recognized that above 5,000 feet (the anticipated December/winter snowline) tents will be insufficiently robust or warm and a self-build alternative shelter programme for 10,000 families has been launched by the shelter cluster lead agencies (Operation Winter Race).  This dovetails with the Pattan-designed shelter coordinated initiative covered later herein and at Annex A.  Re-cycling of materials wooden beams, metal sheeting from ruined dwellings is an integral strand in this intervention but rapid repairs to partially damaged houses can be more or less discounted.  The massive tremors of the main earthquake strike of 7.4/7.8 on the Richter scale that reportedly (or seemingly) continued for several minutes were followed by further severe aftershocks for the remainder of the day, with the result that buildings not only fell but were then pulverized to mounds of  rubble.
4. Village Food Stocks
Reports vary between sufficiency and crisis – the latter assessment based on village surveys reporting that no crops had been harvested prior to the earthquake and that furthermore, storage sites have been destroyed and home stocks are now inaccessible.  With seed reserves destroyed or unavailable and the villagers concentrating on basic survival, Autumn planting has not and will not take place this year.  Consequently, medium and longer term prospects are for continuing insufficiency and the need for an extended relief food programme.
5. Livestock Casualties
A specific area evaluation found that between 40% and 80% of cow and buffalo herds were lost as a result of the earthquake, these animals being customarily kept indoors at night.  Herds of small ruminants roaming at large (sheep and goats) were less affected, although many animals were engulfed in fissures or swept to the valley bottoms in landfalls.  Villagers suffered estimated losses of between 5% and 10% in this category.  Overall the monitoring concluded that perhaps half or more of all livestock had died in the disaster, adding appreciably to the probability of widespread upcoming food shortages
6. Summary
 
An increasing number of reports are focusing on the difficulties that lie ahead for the Army, the UN, the major international agencies and the hundreds of NGOs (external and national) presently engaged in dealing with the earthquake disaster (e.g. The tragedy is just beginning; The Looming Epidemic; Future Uncertain; Winter is the Enemy) .  The rescue phase is now far behind (for instance, the number of NGOs operating from Balakot town has fallen from more than 40 to around 15), but all aspects of the relief operation are continuing and will be prolonged, over-lapping with recuperation and rehabilitation. It is against this backdrop that coordinated, coherent and participatory interventions by the Pattan Development Organisation are being framed, consistent with capacity (resources and funding) and sustainability.   Eventual re-construction overall  within the region is currently estimated to exceed USD $5.2bn.
 

ONGOING ACTIVITIES PATTAN DEVELOPMENT ORGANISATION

 
7. The Pattan Tented Community, Balakot
The number of residents in the 30 family tents continues at a level of 150 200 displaced persons.  Three meals continue to be provided daily from the central cooking area and electric lighting is available.  Separate male and female basic toilet/washing facilities were previously constructed, but along with the intended general camp upgrade package (as enumerated in the Baseline Paper of 5.11.05), further pit latrines are now being dug and brought into service.  Similarly, previously listed camp winterization enhancements are in hand, including the provision of winter walkways using river bed stones and the supply of quilts (subject to procurement/funding) to supplement blankets already issued.
8. Pattan Forward Store, Mansehra
Hire of this disaster response facility will continue in support of the Balakot camp.  The current stock of 15-days supply of food is due for donated replenishment shortly.  The store also serves as a distribution point for gifts of clothing.  It is the intention to strengthen the management, reach and effectiveness of this asset in the near future with the appointment of a dedicated Logistics, Operations and Procurement Manager responsible for sourcing, transportation and stock control/costing.  This recruitment will not only strengthen back-up for the tented camp but also lead in assessing and servicing an expanded village out-reach programme and the wider distribution of the Pattan shelter (see Annex A).

THE PATTAN SHELTER

9. Specification
Comprising a wooden or bamboo framework trussed diagonally, rope or wire lashed, roofed with corrugated metal sheeting, and walled with plastic sheeting or canvas, this one roomed, easily transportable and rapidly erected shelter measures approximately 4 x 3 metres (base) x 2.5 metres high (flexible dimensions depending on space available and user requirements).  The camber and supporting beams of the lean-to style roof are adjustable according to preference and anticipated snowfall.  The construction materials are available in-country/locally and depending on the amount of re-cycled supports and sheeting used, unit cost should be held at no more than $200 (no infrastructure or construction overheads  - community labour).
10. Pilot Mini-Village
A sample cluster of five Pattan shelters is being erected within the Pattan tented camp at Balakot.  These will be available for use by resident families and as examples for visitors from adjacent villages.  The one shelter currently in place has already attracted a request for urgent supply from the communities of Arban, Jalora and Patlung  in the Kaghan Valley.
 

OUTREACH PROGRAMME

 
11. Patlung 1 /Patlung 2 (including Upper Patlung)
These communities (5kms NW of Balakot, accessible by mountain track from the road), were previously supported with tents bedding and food in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.  They were visited again in adverse weather conditions p.m. 10th November 2005 and have requested further assistance.  A follow-up assessment was made on 15th November, specifically in respect of provision of the Pattan shelter (see Annex A).
12. Arban
The elders of this scattered community living at 6,000/7,000 feet on the mountains overlooking the Kunhar River to the NE of Balakot town visited the Pattan tented camp on 11th November seeking assistance.  Accordingly, an assessment visit was made the same afternoon, with evaluation findings as follows:
  • Access by foot from the road beyond Balakot bridge, 2 hr climb (unladen).
  • Total of 160 families, 900 survivors (118 casualties, including over 80 children).
  • All housing totally destroyed, previous access track carried away/blocked, hillside generally unstable.
  • Current shared shelters 12 large tents, 50 small (all unsuitable for winter snow).
  • Medical cover assistance previously received.
  • Water supply spring water, 1km; food being carried up from Balakot.
  • Blankets more needed; clothing mix of relief supplies/recovery of some items.
  • Immediate priority request is for Pattan shelters to replace tents timeline 2 weeks (max.) before advent of snowfall.  Self-help with transportation up the mountain and re-assembly of the kits; use of re-cycled materials wherever possible.
  • Minimum shelters required: 100
13 Jalora Community
Previously supported; follow-up visit made 15th November 2005. This group of survivors now included in Pattan Shelter Project
14 Village Kumee  
Remote, 3hrs track travel from Balakot.  Previously visited and supported and still seeking assistance.  To be re-visited as and when resources permit.
15 Jabori (towards Batagram)  
Next valley westwards, several hours distant.  Previously assisted with substantial bedding support.  As for Kumee, to be re-visited when Mansehra forward store capability/capacity permits, after the appointment of the dedicated Logistics Operations and Procurement Manager.
 

PROJECT LAUNCHES

 
16 Women’s Handicrafts and Income Generation Project  
Launched at a meeting of the women residents of the Pattan tented camp on 10th November 2005.  Press coverage for BBC Urdu; six Pattan hand sewing machines presented and now in situ.  Dedicated tent/shelter allocated for use by the group.  Activity and skills details as in Baseline Paper, Annex D; ongoing group meetings and acquisition of associated materiel (bobbins, threads, silks, needles, cloth) intended for the development and expansion of this embryonic scheme.  Small scale donor support sought.
17 Educational Support Programme  
Launched simultaneously with the above Project and initial distribution of books made through the mothers for use by the children.  Small scale donor support sought.
18 Children’s Recreational Activity Programme  
Footballs and volleyballs given to the children 10th November 2005 and first games played.  Small donors being sought and a range of additional items to follow (as in report of 5.11.05).
 

POTENTIAL PARTNERSHIPS IDENTIFIED

 
19 Mercy Malaysia  
Possibility of substantial funding to permit distribution of the urgently required Pattan shelter.  Meeting held with President of Mercy Malaysia and agreed in principle.  Early confirmation of funding awaited – Project Proposal submitted, dialogue ongoing
20 Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (NGO)  
Meeting held with Programme Manager with a view to attachment of pairs of young professionals (male/female) to assist with community support and activities at the Pattan tented camp.  Agreed and first rotating batches of volunteers earmarked.  FES to visit Balakot, re-confirm and activate.  Ongoing.
 

NEXT STEPS

 
The Pattan Disaster Management Team immediate and longer term goals and objectives are as follows:
  • Foremost and over-riding priority is distribution and promotion of the Pattan shelter to affected communities as widely and as rapidly as funding and resources permit (full details at Annex A Operation Winter Race).
  • Strengthening the Pattan disaster response capability by the early identification and appointment of the Logistics Operations and Procurement Manager required at the Mansehra Forward Store.
  • Pursuance of the potential partnerships identified and the formation of additional links in support of major projects.
  • Possible identification of individual businesses, philanthropic groups, schools, clubs, etc from overseas wishing to participate in support of the Pattan smaller Projects (see above).
  • Continued integration and coordination with the humanitarian community in-country (Islamabad/Balakot region) and with overseas donors and participants.
  • Identification of longer term major participatory disaster response strategies for implementation in the rehabilitation phase in the affected zone, compatible with the resources, aims and strengths of the Pattan Development Organization.
  • Continuation of the training component and capacity building at all levels within the Disaster Management Team/Pattan Development Organisation to ensure optimum investment for future responses and activities.
  • Continued generation of periodic informative sequential Position Papers on the Disaster Response Activities and Goals of the Pattan Development Organisation.

(John M. Lane)

Disaster Management Coordinator
 

Annexes:

A.

Project Proposal for Immediate Distribution of the Pattan Shelter to Homeless Families in Selected/Allocated Adopted Villages adjacent to Balakot (Operation ‘Winter Race)

   
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