ISLAMABAD: Fifty families uprooted by the devastating floods earlier this year in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) have moved into new houses they helped to build with support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The families are the first among thousands of people who will help build and then reside in disaster-resistant structures in G-B, where about 87,000 people, or 10 percent of the province’s population, have been displaced by floods and landslides since July.
“One of the first steps in rebuilding lives is to help people get a roof over their heads,” said UNDP Environment Specialist Abdul Qadir. “Getting people into proper accommodation before winter comes is one of our important goals.”
Some 500 disaster-resistant houses are initially planned for about 4,500 people in G-B‘s Hunza, Nagar and Ghizer districts and in the Chitral region of neighbouring Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. In these combined areas, more than 3,300 houses were destroyed or damaged, affecting more than 29,000 people and killing 192.
The houses are made of poplar wood, stone masonry and water-resistant roofs, are 400 square feet and cost the equivalent of US$1,000 each. The interior is insulated to protect inhabitants from harsh winters.
Inhabitants themselves were involved in digging the foundations and collecting stones for their construction
as part of an income-generating program run by UNDP for local flood-affected populations.
One recipient of a house in Gilgit, Bibi Roshan, 54 and mother of six children, is due to move into her new accommodation at the end of this month. “This house is a blessing,” she said. “It has brought new light and hope to our lives after I lost everything, my house, my land and my cattle.”
The efforts are part of US$120 million early recovery programme launched by the Government of Pakistan and UNDP to restore livelihoods through job creation, repair basic community infrastructure, and strengthen local government offices.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2010.