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Japan-Supported Sawmill Services Boost Habitat’s Reconstruction Efforts In Earthquake-hit Pakistan

Joint project by HFH Japan and HFH Pakistan aims to help 650 families in rebuilding their homes

TOKYO/BALAKOT, 14th July 2006: More help is at hand for earthquake-affected families in Balakot, Pakistan. With reconstruction underway, a joint project by Habitat for Humanity Japan and its Pakistan counterpart to provide free sawmill services could not have arrived at a better time

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Pillar of strength: HFH Japan-supported sawmill services project serves up to 10 families a day, even those living in remote mountainous areas.

The district of Balakot, about 200 km. from the capital Islamabad, was among the worst-hit areas when a 7.6-magnitude earthquake ripped through Pakistan last October. More than 80,000 people died in the earthquake while over 3.5 million people were left homeless in north Pakistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Since the spring, the earthquake survivors in Balakot have been rebuilding new houses. But their efforts are often hampered by the scarcity of timber as well as a lack of equipment to cut the timber uniformly.

The few sawmill machines that are in some villages are available only for a fee, making the task of reconstruction more arduous for families who have lost almost everything in the earthquake.

With the onset of heavy monsoon rains, there is an even greater urgency for the earthquake survivors to accelerate their rebuilding efforts. The free sawmill services provided by HFH Japan with funding from Japan Platform are thus opportune. Japan Platform is a non-profit organization that pools government funds and private donations to provide emergency relief and reconstruction assistance for victims of natural disasters and conflicts.

With help from the local people and HFH Pakistan’s Habitat Resource Center in Balakot, Habitat is able to reach out to those living in remote mountainous areas where assistance is hard to come by. The sawmills are transported to the various villages by tractors and tractor engines are used to run the sawmills. Habitat can serve up to 10 families with the sawmill services every day. A total of 650 families, or 3,900 people, stand to benefit from the sawmill services project.

The world’s attention and relief efforts may have shifted to recent calamities such as the May 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake but Habitat is committed to helping the Pakistan people rebuild their future through essential services such as sawmill services.