The 2005 Pakistan earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.6, was the most debilitating natural disaster in Pakistan’s history at the time. The quake killed approximately 73,000 people and left more than 70,000 people injured or disabled. Over 2.8 million people were left without shelter and an estimated 2.3 million people were without adequate food. Initial estimates indicated that over 600,000 housing units were either completely destroyed or partially damaged. The direct damages to public and private assets in the eight most-affected districts were estimated at US$2.3 billion, while indirect losses were estimated at US$576 million. Unprecedented challenges due to the sheer scale of the disaster, the overwhelming human toll, and the imminence of a severe Himalayan winter season warranted immediate national, international, civil society, and private sector response.
The Bank played a key role in supporting the Government of Pakistan in dealing with the immediate consequences of the disaster, as well as longer-term reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts. The design of the Bank’s overall approach was guided by its experience with previous earthquake emergency operations in Iran, India, and Turkey. The International Development Association (IDA) provided US$400 million through the Earthquake Emergency Recovery Credit to support the government’s earthquake reconstruction program, which included, among other things housing reconstruction, livelihood support, capacity building, and import financing.
At the outset, the project adopted a flexible approach: whereas policy and strategy formulation were centralized, implementation, monitoring, and reporting mechanisms were decentralized. The functioning of a robust and comprehensive reporting, monitoring and evaluation system, developed jointly by the Bank and the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA), ensured that substantial results were achieved, particularly in the critical areas of housing reconstruction, and livelihoods support. Furthermore, by implementing many of the recovery measures through government departments, the project helped strengthen key institutions and the building of capacities in disaster risk reduction across a number of implementing agencies.
By the time the project was brought to a closure in 2010, the project had achieved notable successes:
- The Earthquake Emergency Recovery Project financed 15 percent of the government’s US$1.5-billion Rural Housing Reconstruction Programme (RHRP), which was a homeowner-driven design initiative. It also supported capacity building at the community level for seismic-resistant reconstruction. From 2006 to 2010, over 430,000 seismic-resistant houses had been reconstructed (out of which 80,000 were financed from the Project), which represented 96 percent of total housing reconstruction ;
- The project provided monthly cash grants to more than 280,000 vulnerable families from 2006 to 2007, of which 27% were female-headed households;
- It also provided US$85 million financing to the government to partially finance the imports of items required for immediate relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation activities. This component received additional financing of US$300 million following the unprecedented floods across Pakistan in 2010;
- Finally, the project focused on institutional capacity building as well as disaster risk management, with funds provided to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to undertake various activities of this kind. These included the establishment of a National Emergency Operations Center, piloting of Community Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) program in Muzaffarabad and Mansehra districts, development of a National Disaster Response Plan, and formulation of standard operating procedures.