Pakistan Quake Update: Christian Aid Groups Remain, Shift to Recovery Phase

Nearly six months following the massive 7.6-magnitude quake that killed some 86,000 people in South Asia, Christian aid groups continue to remain in the region helping survivors move beyond the emergency phase to recovery and rehabilitation.

World Vision Middle East/Eastern Europe reported Thursday that it is nearly complete with the first phase food distributions in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP), which targets more than 65,000 people including 36,000 children. The Christian relief and development group is currently proceeding with negotiations and plans to use Food-for-Work and other activities to meet families’ needs in the recovery and reconstruction phase.

World Vision is also “exploring ways” to support a recovery operation planned by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). The two-year operation will begin on Apr. 1 with plans to assist some 670,000 people living or returning to highland valleys. WV wants to target people who lost their houses, livestock, agricultural land and lack remittance or family support.

The Food-for-Work projects is one program where WV will be able to help rehabilitate communal infrastructure and where food packages will support some 180,000 especially vulnerable people, including the elderly, female-headed households and families lacking income generation opportunities while they rebuild their homes and restore their livelihoods until the first crop in October.

World Vision Commodities Officer Sayed Mahmood explained, “We are negotiating with and writing a proposal for WFP to engage in Food-for-Work, linking this with Cash-for-Work. We are also looking to contribute to the School Feeding Project with WFP.”

About 450,000 children will benefit from school feeding projects and some 30,000 girls in middle schools will receive take home rations as an incentive to enroll and regularly attend classes.

Starting from November until the end of February, WV had distributed about 2,188 megatons of food to families in some 200 villages in the Siran Valley.

“We have been receiving food supplies from World Vision since November, which have greatly helped us to meet our food needs,” said Noor Hussain and Abdur Rashid from Gali Khaitran village in Jabouri after a food distribution in World Vision’s Jabouri camp.

“We have also received tents, tarpaulins, quilts, blankets, Corrugated Galvanized Iron sheets and construction tools from World Vision,” they added.

Sixty-year-old Rasim Jan from Sacha Kalan recently walked one hour to the distribution point with her two grand-daughters to collect supplies and was accompanied by a male family member. “We are very happy. What you are doing here is very good”, she commented, explaining that her son, formerly a plumber and the family’s sole breadwinner, has not been able to work since the quake destroyed their home, the local market and with it his tools and loyal customers.

Past distributions included wheat flour, vegetable oil, pulses, salt, dates, high-energy biscuits and fortified biscuits. But WV announced that it will soon begin distribution of Wheat Soybean porridge for children under age three with plans to distribute until the end of the month.

Church World Service, which has worked in Pakistan for more than 50 years and was one of the first agencies that began distributing relief following the earthquake, reported that it is shifting its focus to helping survivors living in tent communities return to their villages and gain new livelihood skills.

As part or CWS’s comprehensive recovery and rehabilitation program, young men are learning new skills such as masonry, electrical work, plumbing, carpentry, and welding.

Salvation Army also reported on Thursday that its emergency team is back in Pakistan and among other activities is seeking to help families living in tents return home.