Eight thousand families in northern Pakistan left destitute by last October’s devastating earthquake that killed around 80,000 will receive financial and technical support to rebuild their houses and buy livestock through a new project supported by a $26.4 million loan from the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
The $29.6 million Project for the Restoration of Earthquake-Affected Communities and Households (REACH) will be financed almost entirely by the IFAD loan, the agreement for which was signed yesterday at the Fund’s headquarters in Rome by its President Lennart Båge, and the Ambassador of Pakistan to Italy, Mirza Quamar Beg.
“There is an urgent need to follow up on the massive relief effort with major investments to rebuild poor people’s livelihoods,” said Mr. Båge. “Many villages that were already poor before the earthquake are now extremely vulnerable. REACH is key to enable rural communities to re-establish the basis for productive lives.”
The project will focus on the areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and in the North-West Frontier Province where about 80 per cent of families lost their houses. Most of the REACH funds – more than $20 million – will be invested in restoring houses or rebuilding new ones, IFAD said in a news release.
About $3 million of the project funds will be allocated to help families buy livestock because many buffaloes and cows, normally a major source of income in poor rural communities, were killed by falling buildings. In addition, roads and bridges will be rebuilt in the remote mountainous areas to restore access to services and markets.
With this project, IFAD will have participated in financing 21 loans to Pakistan for a total investment of $387 million. IFAD is a specialized agency of the UN dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries. Through low-interest loans and grants, it develops and finances projects that enable rural poor people to overcome poverty themselves.
As well as the fatalities, around 70,000 people were injured in last October’s earthquake that also left millions more homeless.