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Shifting gears: Moving from relief to recovery in Pakistan
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Mary Ross and Angel Hristov
 
October 6, 2006

One year after a devastating earthquake struck Pakistan, Red Cross and Red Crescent response operations are shifting focus beyond emergency relief efforts to include extensive, longer-term recovery assistance—aiding the earthquake’s most vulnerable survivors, particularly women and children, in the earthquake-prone and mountainous region.

On Oct. 8, 2005, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck Pakistan resulting in the loss of 74,000 lives, injuring some 128,000 and leaving more than 3 million homeless. In the days that followed the disaster, the American Red Cross—joining the Pakistan Red Crescent Society and other members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (Movement)—responded to the urgent call for immediate, emergency aid.

The American Red Cross response, valued at $14 million, included the deployment of two experienced disaster response delegates, relief materials such as kitchen sets, blankets and shawls and financial support of the Movement’s response efforts. A portion of this contribution helped finance helicopter operations that enabled rapid deployment of relief supplies and assessment teams to remote mountain communities.

National Red Cross and Red Crescent societies continue to respond to the needs of those impacted by the 7.6-magnitude earthquake that struck South Asia last October north of the Pakistan capital. (Photo Credit: Till Mayer/Federation) Photo ID: ARC 35714
National Red Cross and Red Crescent societies continue to respond to the needs of those impacted by the 7.6-magnitude earthquake that struck South Asia last October north of the Pakistan capital. (Photo Credit: Till Mayer/Federation)

The American Red Cross is prepared to offer continued assistance through the coming winter. This includes technical support to bolster the Pakistan Red Crescent Society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Federation) capacities in the areas of quality assessments, targeting, logistics, distribution and accountability practices.

As Pakistan is prone to earthquakes, those communities already significantly impacted by the 2005 earthquake face other potentially significant tremors. In addition to the ongoing recovery efforts and with the help of generous donations from the public, the American Red Cross will continue to work with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society to help build its capacity to be prepared for and respond to such disasters.

Beyond this natural disaster, Pakistan also faces deep-rooted healthcare challenges, lacking adequate resources and infrastructure to provide maternal and infant care services in rural areas. Few women have access to prenatal or newborn care. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), one out of every 12 children born in Pakistan will die before his first birthday, and one out of every 200 births will result in the mother’s death.

Children younger than 15 years of age, who make up 40 percent of Pakistan’s population, are at risk as well. Therefore, American Red Cross also is concentrating on development activities that will continue to benefit the local community after the primary American Red Cross project has concluded.

“These activities include community-building projects, education for both men and women and improved health services for women and children who will be part of building a Pakistan better able to address the daily needs of its citizens, and better prepared for future earthquakes and natural disasters,” said Augustine Gill, Senior Field Representative in Pakistan for the American Red Cross. “Education, training, community mobilization, basic health care are all important for preparing for a disaster, but this is also how to prepare Pakistan’s youngest generation for success.”

With a new Pakistan Maternal and Child Health Program now underway, the American Red Cross is working with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society and the Federation to help rebuild at least seven health care facilities to provide health-related education for both men and women, improve health services for women and children and meet immediate and longer-term community health needs.

In the aftermath of the earthquake last October, the American Red Cross responded to the emergency needs of the people of Pakistan and now is committed to being part of the ongoing recovery efforts. Contributions from around the world supporting the Movement ensure not only the recovery of a country devastated by a massive natural disaster, but the significant improvement of the health care system for its most vulnerable citizens living in earthquake-prone areas.

As part of the world's largest humanitarian network, the American Red Cross alleviates the suffering of victims of war, disaster and other international crises, and works with other Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to improve chronic, life-threatening conditions in developing nations. We reconnect families separated by emergencies and educate the American public about international humanitarian law. This assistance is made possible through the generosity of the American public.


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