Pakistan flood victims move into new homes

Thursday, December 9, 2010

ISLAMABAD - Fifty families uprooted by devastating floods in Pakistan’s northern region of Gilgit-Baltistan have moved into new houses they helped build with UN support.

The families are the first among thousands of people who will help to build and then reside in disaster-resistant structures in Gilgit-Baltistan where about 87,000 people or 10 percent of the population was 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 Abdul Qadir, environmental specialist with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“Getting people into proper accommodation before winter comes is one of our important goals,” a UNDP statement quoted him as saying.

Some 500 disaster-proof houses are initially planned for about 4,500 people in Gilgit-Baltistan’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, made of poplar wood, stone masonry and water-resistant roofs, are each 400 square feet and cost the equivalent of $1,000.

The interior - living room, kitchen, storage space, and washroom - is insulated to protect inhabitants from harsh winters.

Inhabitants themselves were involved in digging the houses’ foundations and collecting stones for their construction as part of an income-generating programme run by UNDP for local flood-affected populations.

One recipient of a house in Gilgit, Bibi Roshan, 54 and mother of six children, said: “This house is a blessing. It has brought new light and hope to our lives after I lost everything - my house, my land and my cattle.”

The UNDP will build houses in other parts of the country as well, especially in Sindh province’s Thatta district where a million people have been displaced by the floods.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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