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Pakistan readies rebuild

Pakistan’s government will not publish a national strategy for reconstruction, following last month’s devastating floods, until after Ramadan ends on 10 September (Friday).

Disaster relief charity RedR country director Imam Baig said the disruption caused by Ramadan and the festival of Eid makes it “very difficult” to produce a strategy earlier.

Some piecemeal reconstruction has already begun to reinstate bridges, roads, homes and levees. The UK Department for International Development (DFID) has started a £10M bridge project originally scheduled for 2011.

Ten Mabey Compact 200 bridges − modular steel bridges which can be rapidly assembled by unskilled labour − are expected to arrive in Pakistan around 23 September and will replace damaged bridges in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region.

Two more Mabey Compact 200 bridges will be moved from British Army storage in southern Pakistan up to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The US government has sent 12 further prefabricated steel bridges to Peshawar and Kurram. Meanwhile, plant firm JCB will donate $250,000 (£163,000) of equipment including two 4CX backhoe loaders to the relief effort.

Pakistani authorities have already built improvised clay and stone levees in the city of Thatta to hold back floodwaters that inundated the nearby town of Sujawal.

As well, damaged homes are being rebuilt by their owners in some areas, helped by the government’s plan to provide a preliminary building fund of 25,000 rupees (£189) to families who have lost their homes.

“Cash-for-work”

Roads are also set to be repaired under a 21-day, cash-for-work scheme funded by the US government.
Communities will receive toolkits including wheelbarrows, crowbars, shovels, hoes, hammers and steel pans.

But Baig warned that substandard reconstruction due to a lack of funding, technology and expertise could lead to future misery. “People are restoring their homes in the same way as they were built before the floods. They will just be facing the same problems,” he said.

He also said the Pakistan government is lacking in funds to support flood victims. A one-off tax will be imposed on those above the poverty line to raise money for rebuilding roads and bridges, he said.

Aid agency Oxfam last week called for immediate action towards reconstruction. “Pakistan doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for the emergency phase to be over before starting the reconstruction,” said Oxfam country director in Pakistan Neva Kha.

Baig said waters have completely receded in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while around 40% of the Punjab region is still underwater and the majority of Sindh province remains still flooded.

Of the more than 18M people affected by the floods, 30% are believed to be still inaccessible.

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