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Pakistani Women Plant Millions of Trees to Rebuild Climate Resilient Roads

Video | 22 August 2019

Pakistan is a country prone to disasters: earthquakes, landslides, droughts and floods are common, while climate change is making the situation worse.

In 2014, floods devastated thousands of villages and killed hundreds of people. More than 2.5 million were displaced by the disaster. In the districts of Poonch, Kotli and Haveli in the mountains near Islamabad, roads, basic services and livelihoods were washed away. 

The Asian Development Bank responded with emergency assistance, helping Pakistan rebuild roads through innovative techniques, which also allow for the empowerment of women, and promote green enterprises and eco-tourism.

Transcript

Pakistan - Saira Ilyas, nursery owner Hajira village: “We were badly affected by the flood in 2014. It did not just affect us but the entire community.”

Jamila Bibi, villager, Hajira: “We were in a very difficult situation. Our homes were damaged, roads were cut off, nowhere to go, we faced starvation for three days”

Gul Fatima, villager, Dar Bangoi: “Because of the landslide, my house was badly damaged. I and my cattle had nowhere to go. There was water gushing from every direction, my house was flooded. The road was blocked from several points. I could not even reach the hospital.”         

Pakistan is prone to disasters. Earthquakes, landslides, droughts, and floods are common. And climate change is making the situation worse.

In 2014, floods devastated thousands of villages and killed hundreds of people. More than 2.5 million were displaced by the disaster.

In the districts of Poonch, Kotli, and Haveli in the mountains near Islamabad, roads, basic services and livelihoods were washed away.   

Pakistan reached out for support from its international partners to help it recover from the crisis.

The Asian Development Bank responded with emergency assistance.

The Flood Reconstruction and Resilient Project has helped rebuild some of the worst-hit areas, rebuilding roads, bridges, and other vital infrastructure.  

All of the infrastructure was built to withstand another disaster.

Muhammad Bashir, Director General, Project Coordination Unit “It was a critical time and restoration of roads was mandatory to rehabilitate the flood-affected community.”

Part of that recovery involved an innovative program to plant trees to stabilize the soil and prevent further landslides onto the new roads.

Local women were encouraged to start nurseries and grow the trees from seedlings.

The trees were sold and then replanted in the steep slopes along the roads.

Mian Shaukat Shafi, Senior Project Implementation Officer, ADB Pakistan: “We observed that engineering was not sufficient to reduce any flood or disaster risk. Hence, we introduced the latest techniques of bio-engineering with the assistance of the forest department by planting plants and shrubs in the landslide areas. We insured the involvement of women in a sort of social engineering in the form of nurseries to create economic activity and jobs”

This smart bio-engineering solution protects the roads against frequent landslides.

It also creates jobs and provides financial independence to the local women.

Saira Ilyas, nursery owner, Hajira village: “Because of the project the forest department needed more plants, and to meet the demand we expanded our nursery from 30 to 70 canals. It has brought lots of profit. With the savings, we have purchased land and other household necessities. I am educating my sisters and have opened a school nearby.”  

More than 2.5 million trees have been planted so far.

70% of these trees were grown by women.

In total, more than 23 million rupees has been paid out to these thriving nurseries.

Saira Ilyas, nursery owner, Hajira village:  “We are helping other female nursery owners by giving them tubes and plants. All of us women sit together regularly. We discuss education and other issues. Now I am able to make decisions. Earlier no one used to take me seriously. Now whatever I say to my parents and husband, they listen and support!”