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World Bank abandons concrete in Pakistan rebuild

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DEMANDS THAT more than 500,000 earthquake damaged homes in Pakistan be rebuilt using concrete have been withdrawn by the World Bank.

The bank is funding $220M in housing reconstruction, following last year's earthquake that killed 80,000 people.

It had insisted that reconstruction grants of 200,000 rupees (ú1,780) be paid per household if work was done in concrete.

People made homeless by the earthquake have already received a payment of 25,000 rupees ($556) towards reconstruction. But three further tranches of 25,000 rupees are being delayed because payments depend on the use of concrete.

Materials shortages in remote areas appeared to have forced the World Bank's to change its mind. 'In some areas, especially those that are very remote, access to cement and steel has been an issue. And it is also true that in some areas there is greater familiarity with other construction methods, particularly using timber, ' said the World Bank in a statement.

'So the menu of approved design choices has been broadened to reflect this. But the reinforced cement concrete design is still considered to be appropriate for many homeowners.' Peter Sweetnam, programme director at aid agency Mercy Corps, said: 'The World Bank has been insisting on concrete reconstruction but that is completely inappropriate for some people.' But NCEI understands the World Bank is now preparing to relax the demand for concrete reconstruction. People will now be allowed to rebuild their homes in 'more appropriate' timber and masonry that use simple earthquake-resistant materials such as steel reinforcement.

Reconstruction has also been hampered by confusion about whether the payments should be made to the householder or the landowner, said Sweetnam.

To date the World Bank has committed $1.1bn to reconstruction but estimates that the country needs $7.6bn overall for long-term work.

Find out more on www. worldbank. org/pakistanearthquake

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