Over $440 million in livestock, crop and irrigation system losses in quake-hit Pakistan
FAO assessment to guide recovery and reconstruction plans for agriculture sector
16 November 2005, Rome – Direct and indirect losses to crops, livestock and irrigation infrastructure as a result of last month’s earthquake in northern Pakistan total more than $440 million, according to the findings of an FAO assessment released today.
FAO’s damage and needs assessments for the agriculture and livestock sectors in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and the North West Frontier Province were presented to the Government of Pakistan this week. The findings will form the basis for a post-earthquake early recovery plan, as well as longer-term rehabilitation and reconstruction activities.
Lives and livelihoods lost
With a death toll currently estimated at more than 70 000, few families in the earthquake-affected areas escaped the loss of human life.
Those affected have also seen a dramatic depletion of their assets. Shelter has been reduced to rubble, water and energy supplies have been cut off, and transport systems seriously threatened by unstable link roads and the strong likelihood of further landslides as winter sets in. Financial assets have been badly hit, with cash, jewellery, livestock and other assets buried under collapsed houses.
Livestock losses high
“When the earthquake hit, herds of sheep and goats were on their way back from pastures, resulting in a large number of deaths and injuries among pastoralists and their livestock,” said Fernanda Guerrieri, Chief of FAO's Emergency Operations Service. “In more settled farming systems, buffaloes, cattle and poultry suffered even more severe losses as the structures in which they were kept collapsed. In the worst-affected areas, nearly all the livestock were lost.”
Depletion of livestock continues as abandoned animals die, and others are sold or slaughtered in anticipation of the harsh winter, or due to lack of fodder and shelter. Feed and fodder stocks have been either buried under debris or damaged by the heavy rains that followed the earthquake.
Agricultural assets decimated
Maize, the main cereal crop, was being harvested when the earthquake struck. Due to insufficient rainfall, harvest yields were already expected to be half of normal levels. The landslides, collapse of stores, free roaming animals and subsequent rains caused further crop damage of around 30-75 percent, according to the FAO assessment. Crops still in the field will only be partially harvested due to abandonment and lack of labour.
Major damage was done to field terraces and irrigation and water management structures. In the affected areas, around 50 percent of the irrigation infrastructure has been damaged.
Entire fields have been lost due to land and rock slides. Fruit orchards and farm-machinery were severely damaged. Critical infrastructure, such as farm-to-market roads, agro-processing facilities, and agricultural research, extension and training facilities, has been decimated.
Appeal for funds unheeded
FAO recently increased its appeal for emergency agricultural assistance and early recovery activities in the quake-hit region to $25 million as part of the UN Flash Appeal. So far, no funds have been received. The Organization has allocated nearly $400 000 of its own resources to provide immediate emergency agricultural inputs until additional funds are available.
“To help these farming communities resume their economic activities as soon as possible, quick impact activities have to be started at once to clear cultivated areas, restock animals, restore land productivity and rebuild livestock shelters and grain storage,” said Guerrieri. “Lost or destroyed tools, machinery and equipment also need to be replaced.”
Funds are required for the provision of seeds, fertilizer, animal feed, tools and animal health services. Technical and logistical support and materials for the rehabilitation of small irrigation schemes, market roads, and agro-processing and storage facilities are also needed.
FAO is working with the Government, local authorities and others involved in agricultural relief and rehabilitation efforts to ensure coordinated, effective implementation of livelihood recovery activities.
Information Officer, FAO
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