Quake victims taught to build shelters from ruins

Thirty thousand quake-hit families in Pakistan’s wintry mountains are being taught to build shelters from the rubble of their homes under a new United Nations programme launched on Monday.

Survivors will receive tool kits, iron sheeting for roofs and technical details on how to build makeshift homes to protect them from the coming winter, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said.

“People need shelter now. It’s important to promote local solutions so that temporary homes are affordable, generate jobs, and are accepted by the community,” UNDP country director Haoliang Xu said in a statement.

The scheme is a way of overcoming the chronic lack of winterised tents and adequate shelter for the estimated three million people left homeless by the October 8 quake. More than 74 000 people died.

International and local architects had come up with easy-to-build designs featuring salvaged materials like wooden beams and locally available items such as sandbags to make warm, aftershock-resistant walls, the UNDP said.

Xu said the scheme would also boost the construction industry in the devastated region, where the economic output has slowed almost to a halt since the quake.

Around 150 local engineers and more than one thousand building workers who are receiving training under the initiative will help survivors build their homes.

But the agency added that more money was needed to reach all the families it wants to in badly-hit, high-altitude areas in the districts of Muzaffarabad, Bagh, Mansehra, Shangla and Neelum.

Each home will cost around $400 to build and although there has been “generous” funding from Germany, New Zealand, the UN Foundation and UNDP, it only had six million dollars of the $15-million needed for the scheme.

According the World Bank, more than 400 000 houses were destroyed or damaged in the quake.

The UNDP said it had already delivered thousands of winterised tents and kitchen sets to quake victims and will complete the delivery of 12 000 such emergency shelter kits by the final week of November.

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