Diary from Pakistan

Oct 24, 2006

Mark Yates, WSPA's Disaster Management Director, reports on WSPA and its Member Societies‘ work in Pakistan one year after the devastating earthquake.

Final Report: Personal Reflections

"As the intervention draws to a close and by means of finishing off my diary entries, I spent a few moments reflecting what the intervention has achieved and what this means.

This will probably be my last time in Pakistan for the foreseeable future. As ever in disaster management you meet people and deliver aid in traumatic and often unpleasant circumstances. Further to this, where WSPA is concerned, animals that have been physically injured or cannot look after themselves also need attention.

As dreadful as these disasters are, I never fail to be amazed at the resilience demonstrated by the affected communities.

I have visited Pakistan several times in the last 10 months, and I can see that the infrastructure re-development has been slow, not least of all due to the sheer size of the earthquake, but it is now gaining momentum. Given the lack of facilities and progress, the positive nature of the people is extremely humbling.

I have met survivors that have lost everything, including family members, yet still invite me into their house and share what little food they have. Their spirits remain high with the trust in their faith, family and community at the heart of their daily way of life.

The people reflect the proud and magnificent landscape. Even with the ravages of a huge earthquake the area remains beautiful and awe inspiring.  I will miss Pakistan when I leave and I feel extremely proud to have been involved in this intervention.

WSPA has delivered, finally and in conjunction with Member Societies, an interim measure to bridge the gap between devastation and normality. There is no doubt that animals have benefited from the establishment of the temporary clinics.

WSPA staff and supporters can feel justifiably proud that their efforts have had, and will continue to have, a positive impact on the animals and the communities they are part of for some time to come."

Day 4: October 21, 2006

"On Saturday both myself and Dr Fakhar Abbas sat down and developed a plan which will see the completion of the clinics. The preferred option to complete the concreting of floors and ceilings will focus on hiring a local contractor to finish these jobs.

As Eid, Islamic holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, is about to start it will be about a week before the contractor is hired. However, by meeting both district governments we now have an accurate picture of exactly what needs doing. Once the contractor has completed his assessment the expected completion time will be 4-6 weeks, in time for the onset of winter.

This intervention has taken a long time to complete. However it has been completed in and around a massive national level recovery operation. Across the provinces WSPA and its Member Societies, The Brooke, the Humane Society International (HSI) and the Wildlife Society of Pakistan (WSP) have delivered a valuable part of the overall recovery process.

The medicines were delivered and distributed quickly, and while the clinics have taken some time, they will be complete before the next winter. There is no doubt that the WSPA intervention has bridged the gap between the devastation caused by the earthquake and the re-establishment of the veterinary infrastructure.

The damage caused by the earthquake is still clearly visible. Twelve months on the re-building program for the communities is just stuttering into life. It is no mean feat that in amongst this massive effort WSPA has, with WSP, gone someway to meeting the challenges that these communities still face."

Day 3: October 20, 2006

"We are visiting North West Frontier Provice today and are in a place called Havelian.  Last time we were here the vets were living out of a tent. 

The clinic is now erected, has electricity and is currently waiting to be furnished by the government.  This is a huge improvement for both the animals being treated and the vets.

We also visited the clinics at Damtoor and Abbotabad.  Both are well furnished and fully operational.  The Abbotabad temporary clinic was constructed in a new location away from the old clinic.  This was mainly as a preparedness measure if another earthquake struck and also due to a lack of space at the old site.  It has been well constructed and other organizations, such as the EU, have supported the furnishing of the clinic.  Equipment and drugs are securely stored on site and the location permits the vet to travel easily to reach farmers in need of attention

The clinic at Damtoor is also a success. Like the one at Abbotabad it has been well furnished and is being well used.  As with the clinic I saw this morning at Havelian it has improved the standard of living for those that work from it.  Equipment and medicines are secure, and the vets now have a proper base from which to operate. Both vets were out on duty when we arrived, but the support workers were extremely grateful for the new, temporary clinics. 

There is still some work to be done. Myself and Dr Fakhar Abbas at WSP will be discussing how to complete the building work that remains.  This involves the laying of some concrete floors and fitting of ceilings.  Once this is complete all the clinics will be fully operational.

One correction I have to make is that while the second equine hospital has been delivered, it has not been constructed.  This will be done by contractors. 

Across both North West Frontier Province and Azad Jammu and Kashmir 29 shelters have been constructed and 3 are awaiting construction.  One equine hospital is completed and one is being relocated.   These temporary clinics have made a positive impact on the communities they are in.  They have bridged the gap between complete devastation and the permanent buildings which are now being planned.

With preparations for Eid, the Islamic holiday that marks the end of Ramadan,  now almost complete we have one day left before the national holiday starts to get as much done as possible in readiness to start building once everybody goes back to work..."

Day 2: October 19, 2006

‘‘Early start as we drive north to Muzaffarabad where I met the Director General for Livestock, Dr Kiani. While 15 of the temporary clinics have now been erected in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) there are still some that need work.

These are not particularly large jobs but require some logistical organization. Across in North West Frontier Province 14 of the 16 clinics and both equine hospitals have been constructed.

Next we drive out with the Deputy Director General to a clinic at Ghori Dupatta. The clinic is fully operational. The old clinic is now completely uninhabitable and the government have started furnishing the new clinic.

On the way back we stopped to see a family and find out how they had benefited from the clinic.

The father told me that his buffalo had been vaccinated at the clinic and that he was extremely grateful. He also explained the importance of the livestock to his family‘s survival.

I was extremely humbled by the way this story of suffering had been told to me and for the short period of time I was there I was made to feel extremely welcome.

We are now back in Islamabad enjoying a quite spectacular electrical storm.

Tomorrow we will develop the plan to finish off the construction and will also be talking to some of the farmers directly affected by the earthquake.‘‘

Day 1: October 18, 2006

‘‘I've arrived safely and am writing this report from the office of the Wildlife Society of Pakistan (WSP), a Member Society that played a hugely significant role in the relief and recovery intervention after the earthquake in 2005.

It is a day of preparations as we plan to move north tomorrow and visit the Director General of Livestock in Muzaffarabad. From there we then hope to move into North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and confirm the progress of WSPA‘s intervention there.

Dr. Fakhar Abbas of the WSP has provided the support to make this assessment trip possible. It is his dedicated staff that will guide me over the next few days and I have shown them the new technology WSPA now employs with its Disaster Assessment and Relief Teams (DARTs) when they deploy.

All DART teams are now equipped with toughened laptops and satellite communications so that assessments can be sent quickly back to London. The teams are also able to send high resolution photographs.

This will go a long way to improving our reporting time, delivering relief quickly to thousands of animals that need it and also ensuring a degree of safety for our staff."

Read more about WSPA's disaster relief work>>


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