Pakistan: Making aid more accessible

29 Jul 2013

2012, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan: A man registers his arrival at the Jalozai displacement camp in north-west Pakistan. More than 1 million people have been displaced by violence in the region since 2008, including thousands of people living with physical and mental disabilities. Credit: IRIN/Tim Irwin
In Pakistan, the OCHA-managed Emergency Response Fund is helping aid agencies address the unique needs of people who are physically disabled and have been displaced by violence.

In March 2012, 20-year-old Muhammad Ismail’s life was turned upside down. Fighting between the army and a militant group forced Ismail and his family to flee their home in Khyber Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in north-west Pakistan.

Just after leaving his home, Ismail ran back inside to grab money and some important documents. But he was shot in his left leg. Without transport, it took his family eight hours to navigate military checkpoints and get him to a medical facility in the city of Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

His injury was serious and the necessary treatment was not readily available. Eventually, his leg was amputated.

Ismail and his family sought refuge at the Jalozai displacement camp 35 kilometres south-east of Peshawar. But his injury posed new challenges. “I was afraid to use the pit latrine due to accessibility difficulties,” he explained.

Since 2008, more than 1 million people have been forced from their homes by conflict in FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. According to one estimate, at least 10,500 of these people have disabilities and need additional and targeted support.

Emergency funding in Pakistan

A member of the camp’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) committee raised Ismail’s plight with the international NGO Oxfam. A latrine designed for people with limited mobility, such as Ismail, was quickly installed.

In 2012, Oxfam received about US$126,000 from the OCHA-managed Emergency Response Fund (ERF) in Pakistan to provide WASH services in the Jalozai camp. All ERF-supported projects in Pakistan are expected to meet the different needs of men, women, boys and girls, including those living with disabilities.

The ERF is a country-based pooled fund that provides NGOs and UN agencies with rapid and flexible funding to address critical gaps in humanitarian emergencies. Since its inception in Pakistan in August 2010, the ERF has provided more than $41 million to more than 180 projects. These projects have benefited in excess of 4.5 million people affected by natural disasters, or by persistent and complex insecurity in places such as FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. 

“Living in a new community is very different and difficult”

Mennaka Bibi, 36, has arthritis. She faced accessibility challenges similar to Ismail’s when fighting forced her from her home in the Bara Agency of FATA in 2011. She found refuge with a host community in Shaheedabad on the outskirts of Peshawar. She shares a residence with 25 people, including 16 children.

“Living in a new community in a new city is very different and difficult,” Bibi said.

The ERF in Pakistan provided a grant of about $250,000 to the international NGO International Rescue Committee (IRC) to provide WASH services to people living with host communities in Peshawar and in nearby Nowshera.

“When the IRC team visited our community, I told them about my physical condition, which was a grave concern for me. They gave me a special toilet seat, a hygiene kit and told me how to use it properly and keep it clean,” Bibi said.

“The situation in north-west Pakistan is complex and long running,” said Laksmita Noviera, OCHA’s ERF Manager in Pakistan. “Aid agencies often struggle to secure the funding they need to support people affected by the fighting. The ERF means that we can quickly support agencies to meet the needs of the most vulnerable.”