A daunting task

Rehabilitation work continues in flood-affected areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, months after the floods. The damage is massive and the reconstruction will take years

A daunting task


igns indicating flood water levels are still visible on the walls. There is mud in damaged houses and the nearby fields are still wet in Camp Corona, a flood-hit village in Charsadda. The narrow streets are blocked by scattered building blocks, bricks, sand and other construction materials. Everybody has a tragic story to tell. A few fortunate families have received compensation promised by the government. Some have borrowed money from relatives; others are rebuilding on their own.

Manzoor Elahi, 33, a daily wage labourer, is a father of six. He hails from Camp Corona, Charsadda, a village near the Kabul River on the Peshawar Islamabad M1 motorway. On August 26, the Kabul River flood entered the village and washed away his two room-house. Mansoor took his family to his brother’s house.

Four months later, he has been able to start reconstructing his house. He has laid the foundation for the boundary wall but remains worried. Due to financial constraints, he is unable to continue construction work. He is unsure when he will be able to shift his family back to their house. After the floods, when the district administration damage assessment team surveyed his house, he failed to provide the land ownership documents. After the team had left, he managed to arrange the documents but it was too late. His house was not counted in the survey.

The floods affected at least 55 houses. Two were completely destroyed and 53 partially damaged. 15 families in the village have received the government flood relief compensation package. Another 25 families are hopeful because the government has opened their bank accounts. They are expecting that the compensation amounts will be credited soon.

The provincial government had announced a compensation grant of Rs 400,000 for fully destroyed houses and Rs 160,000 for partially damaged ones. The payments were subject to documentation in the damage assessment survey. The provincial government and some humanitarian organisations are at work now to rehabilitate the flood-affected areas but the damage is massive and the reconstruction of the infrastructure could take several years.

Misal Khan, 39, from Akbar Pura, Charsadda, has received a compensation grant of Rs 160,000 for his partially damaged house. He has built the boundary walls but is unable to construct a room that was damaged by the flood. He estimates the construction cost for the room at Rs 400,000.

Ubaid Ullah is a father of four in Madyan, Upper Swat. A waiter at a local hotel, he is currently living in a rented house. His house was washed away in the floods. The family includes his ailling father. “The flood washed away everything. We have nothing left. We haven’t received the government compensation either,” he says. For the last four months, humanitarian organisations have providing food rations but he wants the government compensation to rebuild his house. “The government and aid agencies have already forgotten us,” he says.

Sixty-year-old Purdil Khan from Tank lost his one-room house in the floods. He and his four daughters live in a tent. He hasn’t received government compensation. “Living in a tent in the freezing cold nights is unbearable,” he says. “Unfortunately, we don’t have another option.”

Azmat Akbar is a rehabilitation coordinator for Alkhidmat Foundation working in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank, some of the most flood-affected districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He says at least 8,000 houses have been damaged in Dera Ismail Khan and a thousand in Tank. Crops, schools, roads and other communication networks have been badly damaged. Akbar says in DI Khan and Tank, their organisation has set up two mobile hospitals for a year. In these mobile health facilities, they provide free medicine and free medical check-ups for the flood affected.

“The delay in the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase has increased the miseries of the flood affected. A comprehensive reconstruction project plan is needed,” says Akbar.

Akbar says they are building 400 houses in DI Khan and Tank. They have provided construction materials for 200 houses. In the flood-hit area of the southern districts of KP, they have launched a nutrition programme for pregnant women. “500 farmers have been provided wheat seeds, fertilisers, pesticides,” he says. “Each package is worth Rs 65,000.”

On November 29, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government introduced a dashboard for the reporting of flood relief and housing compensation. The data from the survey of damaged houses is being used through mobile applications to disburse payments to flood affected through the Bank of Khyber (BOK). Flood affected can get updates about their compensation by visiting the dashboard.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has allocated Rs 11.6 billion for the flood affected. Rs 3 billion has been distributed. During the damage assessment, 49,679 houses were surveyed and 46,228 of those were declared damaged. According to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) at least 311 people were killed and 381 were injured. The PDMA says 1,458 schools, 256 health facilities and 107 bridges were also damaged.

According to PDMA data, the provincial government has opened 28,700 bank accounts for the flood affected people; compensation amounts have been credited in 14,585 of these accounts. As per official data, 50 percent of compensation payments have been made. At least Rs 3.5 billion has been credited but Rs 9 billion is still required. The provincial government is facing financial problems. Finance Minister Taimur Jhagra has repeatedly accused the federal government of not releasing the Rs 10 billion flood relief package promised by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif during his visit to Peshawar in August. The recent wave of terrorism in KP has also caused diversion of the provincial government’s attention from flood rehabilitation to security matters.

The writer is a multimedia journalist. He tweets @daudpasaney 

A daunting task