November 9, 2005

Quake donors to focus on rebuilding Pakistan

By Suresh Seshadri and Charlotte Cooper

MUMBAI (Reuters) - A donors' conference on rebuilding the
parts of Pakistan devastated by October's earthquake will focus
on longer term regeneration as well as immediate humanitarian
needs, the head of the UNDP said on Wednesday.

U.N. Development Programme Administrator Kemal Dervis told
Reuters shelter would be a top priority at a November 19
meeting in the Pakistani capital Islamabad but that agencies
had to start discussing how to build employment and
infrastructure as well.

"The economic devastation that comes with the physical
devastation should not be underestimated," Dervis said.

"It is not just a physical reconstruction effort but also
an effort of generating economic activity that can then lead to
a self-sustaining kind of situation in the medium term."

The October 8 earthquake killed more than 73,000 people in
Pakistan and about 1,300 in India.

Aid workers in the mountainous Kashmir region still face a
logistical nightmare helping tens of thousands made homeless by
the earthquake and subsequent landslides before winter sets in.

Dervis declined to give an estimate of how much
reconstruction would cost, saying assessments by the World Bank
and UNDP would be ready "in two or three days."

"The infrastructure has largely been destroyed in part of
these communities ... There are of course lessons to be
learned, buildings that can be rebuilt will perhaps be safer.
In countries with low income levels it is very, very

The United Nations is struggling to raise $550 million for
a medium term programme to help victims. The total response has
been only $134 million.

Asked how worried he was about raising finances, Dervis
said the United Nations was concerned, which was why U.N.
Secretary General Kofi Annan would attend the November 19

"We will see estimates of what it will take and then we
have to campaign hard so that these resources are indeed made
available. We believe that the international community will
make the required effort," he said.

A former Turkish economy minister, he said Turkey's
experience of an earthquake in 1999 showed reconstruction was
not just a question of building houses and restoring
electricity but would take time.

The UNDP leads U.N. efforts to ensure global growth
benefits developing nations and helps reduce poverty.