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Pakistan floods, one year on: Lack of local humanitarian skills continues to hinder recovery

26 July 2011

Pakistan floods, one year on: Lack of local humanitarian skills continues to hinder recovery

RedR-trained organisations are helping to rebuild lives in the north – but much remains to be done in the country’s south, RedR says.

LONDON, 26 July: One year after devastating flooding hit Pakistan affecting nearly 20 million people, killing nearly 2000 and causing economic losses of £3.5bn, disaster relief charity RedR says more investment is needed in local humanitarian skills to help speed up recovery, particularly in the country’s south.

In Pakistan’s north – where the floodwaters hit first – communities are beginning to get back on their feet. But further south, in Sindh province particularly, the limited capacity of local aid and humanitarian organisations and aid workers is hindering the recovery process, RedR says.

In recent years, the north of Pakistan has seen a number of natural and man-made crises including the on-going conflict in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), which has displaced tens of thousands of people, and the huge Punjab earthquake of 2005. In response, investment in building the capacity of local organisations in disaster response has been high.

However, many local NGOs in Sindh, in the country’s south, had a lack of trained humanitarian staff to lead the relief operation when the floods struck. Although the widespread disaster generated a huge international response in Sindh, its sheer scale, and a lack of local capacity, has continued to hinder recovery. One year on hundreds of thousands continue to live in temporary shelters and many are still surviving on food aid.
In contrast, when the 2010 floods hit areas like Charsadda and Nowshera in KPK in the north – often without any warning – local organisations had some of the vital skills needed to respond quickly and effectively. RedR-trained organisations like SABAWOON Welfare Foundation and National Rural Support Programme have been able to respond by providing emergency food and shelter as well as cash for work programmes to rebuild people’s homes.

The international aid community has come a long way over the last few decades, but advances in the sector – such as international standards in disaster relief;  working in ways that respect human dignity; and coordination between aid agencies – have not always been passed onto to local organisations in disaster affected countries.

RedR is working to change that, so that the skills needed for effective disaster relief remain in country, where they are needed most. Over the course of the last year RedR has been helping to strengthen local humanitarian organisations in Pakistan by:

  • Training 1200 aid workers in more than 200 humanitarian organisations;
  • Focussing on giving national humanitarian staff the expert skills they need – 98% of all RedR trainees have been Pakistani nationals. Many have gone on to respond to the flooding crisis all over the country.

Mubashir Fida, RedR’s Programme Manager in Pakistan said: “As recent global disasters force international aid organisations to pull out of Pakistan and re-allocate their resources, the need to build local humanitarian skills has never been more urgent.

The difference in disaster preparedness – and expected recovery times – between north and south is telling. In Charsadda, in Pakistan’s north, estimates for post flood recovery are up to two years. In Sindh province, people are still struggling to get enough to eat, access basic healthcare and find an income to help rebuild their homes.

Without further investment it could easily be another 10 years before many people recover here. The more locally trained aid workers we have, the more lives we can save.”

Take a look at our compelling pictures from Pakistan, one year after the flooding hit.

Read about some of the ongoing challenges facing communities in Sindh province.

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Photo credit (top right) © RedR/Amir Mukhtar

Notes to Editors

1. To arrange an interview with RedR’s Programme Manager in Pakistan, Mubashir Fida, contact RedR’s Communications Manager, Jo Barrett on 07940 703911 or

2. RedR’s current training programme, based in Islamabad, began in March 2010. It follows a previous training programme set up in response to the 2005 earthquake which ran until June 2006 and trained 2,000 local aid workers in areas such as camp management, safety and security and water and sanitation skills. 

3. SABAWOON Welfare Foundation is a non-profit organization working for the eradication of poverty and illness in Pakistan. NRSP (the National Rural Support Programme) alleviates poverty by harnessing people's potential and undertaking development activities in Pakistan.

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