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UNDP and EAD sign Environmental Recovery Programme

Islamabad, Pakistan, 07 May 2007: The Economic Affairs Division (EAD) has approved the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) “Environmental Recovery Programme for the Earthquake Affected Areas”.

This USD 12.8 million programme was developed in close consultation with Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority (ERRA), Ministry of Environment, concerned line departments of NWFP, AJK and other stakeholders. The Programme will work closely with local communities in the earthquake affected areas for mitigating environmental impact as a result of the October 2005 earthquake.

This Programme is based on the findings of the preliminary environmental assessment, undertaken jointly by the Government of Pakistan, UNDP and the United Nations Environment Programme and highlights various environmental issues triggered by the earthquake, such as destabilization of slopes, vast generation of waste and debris from damaged buildings, water contamination due to waste disposal etc. All of these factors are significantly contributing towards large scale landslides, human losses, and population displacements across the earthquake affected areas.

Furthermore, unsafe disposal of debris and other hazardous wastes into the rivers is a major source of water contamination and necessitates special efforts towards ensuring that the water is safe for human consumption. The Programme also aims at strengthening institutional and community capacities towards mitigating, rehabilitating and managing the environmental impact of the earthquake and thereby ensuring a safer and healthier environment for the people.

Mr. Zafar Iqbal, Assistant Resident Representative, Crisis Prevention and Recovery Unit UNDP stated that “This project will focus on slope stabilization and strengthen infrastructure to facilitate rehabilitation and self-reliance among the people of the affected areas”. It will assess the actual landslide situation and quantify the volume of debris and its spatial distribution in the area. He informed that a 10,000 square kilometer area would be covered for landslide vulnerability assessment through a GIS/satellite imagery based survey. Moreover, engineering and bio- engineering works will be undertaken at selected locations for slope stabilization in order to minimize risk and damages from the landslides. The Geological Survey of Pakistan and NESPAK will be involved in planning slope stabilization activities.

UNDP is responsible for managing the project implementation, mobilizing resources including the hiring of project personnel and procurements, monitoring and reporting to the Government of Pakistan on progress as well as results. The project life is expected to be 36 months. Local government institutions, forest departments, and other nation building departments are expected to play a critical role in the implementation of this programme.