Habitat for Humanity Pakistan
Habitat for Humanity Pakistan first began operating in Karachicity, in the southeastern province of Sindh, in 2003. It was planning to expand its programs in the province when a7.6-magnitude earthquake struck close to Muzaffarabad, capitalof Pakistan-administered Kashmir, in October 2005.
HFHPakistan moved its operations to the country’s capital, Islamabad, in order to facilitate a post-disaster response program. The target for the response was the worst-hit town, Balakot, in North West Frontier Province. Habitat’s response included distribution of winter survival kits, blankets and tents followed by the provision of dome-shaped transitional shelters in communities around Balakot.
When times allowed and the weather improved, the shelters could be dismantled and the materials reused in building permanent housing. Canadian funding for a two-year rebuilding program also enabled Habitat to focus on more permanent housing solutions. By the first quarter of 2010, Habitat had served about 10,000 families who now live in a safer environment. With the completion of the post-earthquake reconstruction program, Habitat wound down its direct presence in the country. Future activities will be through partnerships with local or international groups.
Housing needs in Pakistan
More than two-thirds of Pakistan’s population lives in rural areas and is dependent on agriculture for employment. Many rural dwellers lack adequate access to basic services such as safe drinking water, primary health care, education and other social services. The World Bank recorded a halving of poverty in the early part of the decade: the poverty rate fell to 17.2 percent in 2007, from 34.5 percent in 2001. However, the World Bank said poverty levels might have risen again as a result of an economic downturn, inflation and floods. Local academics estimated in 2011 that the country faced an urban housing shortfall of more than 2.7 million units: that figure did not take into account damage caused by the massive summer floods of 2010. Low-income people build their homes incrementally as access to the formal housing sector frequently is unaffordable or inaccessible. Houses in Pakistan typically have walls made of baked or unbaked bricks, stone, wood or bamboo, while roofs may be made of reinforced cement concrete, cement or iron sheet, wood or bamboo.
How Habitat for Humanity works
Habitat focused on more permanent housing solutions in the later phase of its response to the October 2005 earthquake. Funded through donations from HFH Canada and CIDA, the Canadian government’s international development agency, the two-year initiative was the centerpiece of Habitat’s work in Pakistan.
Habitat established community-based resource centers in Mansehra and Balakot where local Habitat teams could store and distribute construction materials. The centers also served as a meeting point for members of the community to gather and decide about rebuilding. They were venues for training and advising people on new building codes and construction techniques.
A Habitat design for more permanent and stronger homes involved building a 0.9-meter high rock and wood wall with an upper section of lighter corrugated iron roof sheets, metal side sheeting and insulation.
HFH Pakistan also used tractors to tow Japanese-funded mobile sawmills to villages in order to provide a free wood cutting service. Villagers brought salvaged timber for cutting into boards and also trusses for sturdy, but lighter roofs. In this way, less wood was needed and existing materials were re-used so fewer trees needed to be felled. In spite of the difficult terrain, a team of university student volunteers organized by HFH Korea spent a week building homes in areas around Balakot.
- By March 2010, Habitat had completed a two-year, US$900,000 project funded by HFH Canada and Canadian International Development Agency to help build permanent, earthquakeresilient homes for thousands of families.
- A Habitat partnership with the Pakistan government and UNHABITAT trained more than 5,500 families to build earthquakeresistant homes in Abbottabad district, North West Frontier Province.
- Sixteen South Korean volunteers helped earthquake-affected families to build 40 transitional shelters and 15 houses in January 2007. The volunteers also helped families to cut wooden beams using Habitat’s free sawmill services.
Population: 190,291,129 (July 2012 est.)
Area: 796,095 sq km
Ethnic groups: Punjabi 44.68%, Pashtun (Pathan) 15.42%, Sindhi 14.1%, Sariaki 8.38%, Muhajirs 7.57%, Balochi 3.57%, other 6.28%
Languages: Punjabi 48%, Sindhi 12%, Siraiki (a Punjabi variant) 10%, Pashtu 8%, Urdu (official) 8%, Balochi 3%, Hindko 2%, Brahui 1%, English (official), Burushaski, and other 8%
Religions: Muslim (official) 95% (Sunni 75%, Shia 20%), other (includes Christian and Hindu) 5%
Literacy: 49.9% (2005 est.)
Urbanization: 36% (2010)
Population living on US$1.25 a day: 21% (2010)
Access to improved water sources: 90% (2010)
Access to improved sanitation facilities: 45% (2010)
Sources: CIA World Factbook, World Bank