KYRGYZSTAN: Shelter funding critical, say agencies

The Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) in Kyrgyzstan, comprising 24 UN agencies and international NGOs, is concerned that it will not be able to meet all assessed needs in the troubled southern areas of the country because its revised flash appeal is only 30 percent funded.

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HCT revised down its 18 June flash appeal for US$73 million* to $96.5 million on 23 July, based on better information gleaned from a series of rapid needs assessments. It said it had received just under $29 million of the appeal, 30 percent, with unmet requirements of $67.5 million.

“Programmes in the flash appeal contribute to recovery and reconciliation. It is of paramount importance that communities as soon as possible are able to recover so as to avoid aid dependency,” Gabriella Waaijman, regional disaster response adviser for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told IRIN.

Kyrgyzstan is still reeling from the effects of a week of widespread violence and destruction in the southern provinces of Osh and Jalal-Abad after mobs began attacking minority ethnic Uzbeks on 10 June.

According to various assessments by relief agencies, 309 people were killed, 2,000 houses were damaged or destroyed and 400,000 people were directly affected by violence. Of these, 309,000 are in need of food assistance, 100,000 are in need of psycho-social support and 75,000 are displaced, mostly living with host families.

The flash appeal is broken down into 10 components – such as shelter, protection and food security – with donors free to specify which areas they would want to fund.

“A funding shortfall in the shelter sector would be quite serious,” said Waaijman.

The shelter sector has been 17 percent funded and still needs $21.7 million to achieve its aim of providing 2,000 households with building materials for the construction of 50 square-metre earthquake-resistant homes.

“Right now the key issue is the shelter component of the flash appeal,” said Frederic Roussel, emergency coordinator for the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), a Paris-based NGO working in Kyrgyzstan. “It is important that the international community supports 100 percent of the shelter component.”

Waaijman said a funding shortfall would mean that either the design of houses would have to be amended or that not all families that lost their houses would be covered. “Neither is acceptable,” she said.

She added that there were indications that the shelter programme may receive the necessary funding but that time was of the essence as homes had to be finished before the onset of winter.

Tensions are still running high in southern Kyrgyzstan as a 40-day mourning period came to an end on 21 July. Aid workers have said ethnic Uzbeks continue to face discrimination and threats and have expressed fears that violence could easily erupt again.

“One of the key concerns of the humanitarian community is reports of ongoing arbitrary arrest, harassment, disappearance and torture. Our protection and human rights colleagues are on the ground, monitoring the situation and documenting and verifying alleged cases. Funding to be able to continue these activities is absolutely critical,” Waaijman said.

The protection component is 29 percent funded and requires another $5.5 million.

Food security

Relief agencies are concerned that the significant reduction in agricultural output and disruption in trading and market activities will have worrying implications for food security in the remainder of the year.

The flash appeal is addressing the needs of food-insecure people through cash support, income generation and food aid support. The food and agriculture component of the appeal is 42 percent funded and requires another $16.5 million.

The World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners are targeting 309,000 people for food assistance.

“WFP has now completed its first-round distribution of a two-week food ration of wheat flour, vegetable oil and high-energy biscuits,” Nadya Frank, WFP programme officer and food cluster focal point in Kyrgyzstan, told IRIN, adding that a second round began this week.

“Currently, we are carrying out blanket distributions in the affected areas, but with the situation gradually returning to normal and markets reopening, we anticipate carrying out targeted distributions in the third round in accordance with the results of WFP’s emergency food security assessment,” she said.

As of 23 July, 467,000 people in Osh and Jalal-Abad areas had received WFP food aid.



* Corrected from $173 million to $73 million on 27 August 2010

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]