International Environment and Development Studies
‘All hands on deck’ in relief assistance by Noragric students in Pakistan
Noragric/UMB students at partner organisations in Pakistan are working flat out to assist in the aftermath of the severe floods in their home country.
One of Noragric’s main partners, COMSATS Institute for Information Technology
(CIIT), has set up a Flood Relief Campaign Committee which oversees the rescue and relief operation. This committee is headed by Dr. Bahadar Nawab, Head of Development Studies at CIIT, and a graduate of Noragric’s PhD programme.
Some 21 students are involved in a joint project between UMB (Noragric and IPM, the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences) and CIIT which focuses on Sustainable Water, Sanitation, Health and Development in the poor areas of northwest Pakistan, a region badly stricken by the recent floods. The students are using their education and competence on sustainable approaches to water and sanitation in these areas. According to Dr Ingrid Nyborg, Associate Professor at Noragric who is in almost daily contact with the members of the Flood Relief Campaign, “The students contribute with everything they have learned about flood waters, soil contamination and purification processes, health risks and development challenges”.
Distribution of food to stricken villages.
Photo: B. Nawab
A team from CIIT, including students, travelled to the town of Dubar (Kohistan district in North West Frontier Province) a few days ago to distribute food items to 200 affected households. More than half of the village houses and shops are completely washed away. Five people died in the village and some of the homeless people have moved to nearby villages. The road connection is cut off and the only food supply possible to upper Kohistan is by ways of helicopter and to some extent by a trolley cable built over the river. Based on their experience so far, they are currently developing a short, medium and long-term relief and reconstruction plan for several of the villages in the area, in which Noragric and IPM will be involved as well.
Bildet viser litt av situasjonen i Pakistan.
Another Noragric partner, the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, Baltistan, reports that 50 villages in Baltistan (Skardu and Ghanche) were affected by the floods and landslides, five severely. Rains have destroyed most of the standing and harvested crops and fruits. In areas where the second crop is still standing, it is expected that these will soon die because most of the irrigation channels and water storage reservoirs have been badly damaged. The absence of a second crop will lead to lack of fodder for animals in the winter which could result in loss of animals (one of the main sources of household income). Food security could become the biggest threat for most of the Baltistan villages in the coming season.
Ingrid emphasizes this aspect in particular, “The impact of the floods on peoples’ livelihoods has been devastating. People need emergency help now, but livelihood recovery will take many months if not years to re-establish. Noragric is offering its experience in this area and will work with our partners in helping to rebuild the lives of people in the worst affected areas”.
Noragric has been engaged in development research projects in northwest Pakistan for many years. Collaboration with CIIT was formalized in 2006 and students from UMB and CIIT have taken courses at the respective institutions. Noragric is currently conducting joint research with CIIT on Livelihood Security in Post-Conflict Swat, and is in the process of building a new MSc programme in Peace, Conflict and Development, along the lines of existing master programmes in Sri Lanka and Nepal. Collaboration with AKRSP started in 1997 on the project ’High Altitude Integrated Natural Resource Management’, funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Islamabad. The project included 16 researchers from UMB and several PhD and master students from Pakistan and UMB.
Pakistani and Norwegian students at UMB are rallying support for their stricken countrymen. Through the Norwegian Student Organisation (NSO) the students are organizing a campaign to raise money for the Flood Relief and Rehabilitation Campaign coordinated by CIIT. UMB has promised its support. A bank account at UMB marked “Pakistan” has been established for the campaign: 7694.05.12510
. For details on the Flood Relief Campaign and CIIT/Noragric’s efforts, contact Dr Ingrid Nyborg. For details on the student campaign, contactEdith Akerø (NSO).
Updated: 17.09.10Printerfriendly version
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