Six months after the devastating October 8
Although people are starting to return to their villages to begin the task of rebuilding their shattered lives, tens of thousands are still in camps and time is running out, he told
“We may be six months on from the earthquake and through a mercifully mild winter, but there is still the monsoon to come and the next winter is only seven months away,” Toole said.
“Pakistan needs to reconstruct over 500,000 houses in a country that probably did a tenth of that in an average year and these are in some of the most remote areas that we could possibly go to,” he said.
The earthquake that struck the north of the country on October 8, 2005, killed more than 70,000 people and made more than two million homeless,
In some cases, entire villages were erased by avalanches or shaken into rubble, while roads were cut and essential services simply ceased to exist.
International agencies and the government responded rapidly to the crisis, setting up emergency camps and sending vital equipment like tents, medical supplies, food and water.
“The relief operation worked really well. There were very few cases of preventable death, no epidemics, no mass cases of dysentery. We vaccinated against measles. We had blankets, coats, sweaters distributed. Although there were lots of problems and logistically it was a total nightmare, it actually worked pretty well,” Toole said.
While many thousands of people will remain in the larger, established camps with schools, sanitation and health care standards well above what they were used to before the disaster, many more have closed with the residents sent home.
But that is where the new challenges emerge, with many roads still unusable — at least to construction traffic. “Our challenge is to shift the major focus of support to the hills to make sure that we supply not just the band aids, the drugs, the school kits, but work with the government to upgrade and provide those services in the long run,” Toole said.
“It is not as though everything is fine now and we can go back to normal. We have quite a lot of work to do — the government of Pakistan, national organisations, the
Source: Daily Times through Reuters