Rotary Help With Earthquake Relief

As they mount relief effort, Pakistan Rotarians call for more help.

By Vukoni Lupa-Lasaga

Rotary International News, 12 October 2005

According to United Nations estimates, the death toll from last week's devastating earthquake in South Asia, the region's worst in over a century, has climbed to at least 30,000. Humanitarian organizations fear that the number of fatalities will be even more catastrophic when rescue and recovery efforts - currently hampered by rain and difficult terrain - are finally over. The 7.6-magnitude quake hit the mountainous areas of northern Pakistan and India, the disputed Kashmir region, and parts of Afghanistan, on 8 October. Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, took the brunt of the disaster. Up to 12,000 of the city's 200,000 residents perished in the earthquake. News agencies described apocalyptic scenes from Muzaffarabad and other flattened cities, including hundreds of students in a school, nearly 300 patients at a hospital, and scores of prisoners in a jail, all buried under rubble.

A huge emergency relief operation is underway. Mounted by governmental and private organizations, local and foreign, including Rotary clubs, the massive initiative is aimed at providing food, shelter, medicine, and other basic necessities to survivors.


All of Pakistan's 115 Rotary clubs are part of the effort to deliver relief to nearly four million survivors of the quake who are now homeless. More than 200 local Rotarians and a similar number of Rotaractors, with a few Rotarians from abroad alongside them, are directly involved in relief and rescue work, according to District 3270 Governor Mohammad Faiz Kidwai, of Karachi, Pakistan."The Rotary clubs are quite actively involved in rescue and relief efforts," says Kidwai. "Nearly every Rotary club has already sent or offered to send help. For now, we are [mostly] collecting items which are required in an emergency. [But] we are [also] sending teams of doctors to devastated areas to treat the injured and to assess longer-term health needs of survivors."According to Kidwai, many affected areas, especially villages in the mountains, are still unreachable because roads and bridges have vanished. "Most of those villages are totally destroyed," he says. "Winter hasn't started yet, but it is [already] very cold at night. Temporary shelter from extreme weather is very important at this stage."


Responding to calls for assistance, some British Rotary clubs dispatched 400 ShelterBox <> emergency kits to Pakistan, according to Kidwai. Each self-contained kit includes a 10-person tent, 10 sleeping bags, water purification tablets, plastic water carriers, plastic bags, cookware, a multifueled stove, flashlights, and an assortment of tools. All are packed in a 49-gallon reusable plastic box.


Locally, nearly every club is donating or soliciting blankets, clothes, food, medicine, and other items to send to survivors. "Aid that has been channeled through Rotarians could easily reach 18 to 20 truckloads," says Azmarai Fadhrudin Khan, a past president of the Rotary Club of Abbottabad, a mere two-to-three hours' drive from mountain villages razed by the quake. "I have personally handed over three truckloads of donations from Rotary clubs. We do not have access to many of the badly affected places. We have, therefore, handed over to the army to deliver and distribute relief from the clubs."Khan describes horrific scenes of victims crushed under concrete blocks of collapsed houses, with little hope of recovery without heavy earthmoving equipment. In Abbottabad, a city of 100,000, about 300 people were killed by the quake that unexpectedly turned their lives upside-down on Saturday morning."It could have been worse," says Khan. "We are lucky because this is the month of Ramadan and the pace of life is rather slow. Most people in Abbottabad were still in their homes and not out shopping in markets or shops where they could have been crushed in big numbers."

While emergency needs are still great, the rebuilding stage is going to be very crucial, according to Rotarians coordinating relief. "We've started thinking of phase two, although our focus is still on providing relief," says Kidwai. "There [are] a lot of orthopedic-related injuries. Medical volunteers will be in demand for an extended period. With the help of Rotary club leaders, District 3270's special disaster committee is compiling a list of projects to address reconstruction needs. "There is going to be a very big problem of orphans," says Khan. "Many children have lost their parents. They will need help with their education so they can have a future. I know this because I was involved with the RI relief [effort] for Afghan refugees in the North-West Frontier Province. Of all the help we provided, vocational training was the best. The effect was a thousand times better than the immediate relief."


For more details or to respond to the South Asia earthquake disaster, go to Rotary's World Community Service disaster relief efforts page or contact District 3270 Governor Mohammad Faiz Kidwai <>, telephone: 92-300-822-0692; or fax: 92-21-5894056.


13th October 2005


Rotary Clubs in Great Britain and Ireland have responded to the Asian earthquake disaster by raising funds for Rotary Shelter boxes and Rotary Aquaboxes, in response to requests from Rotary Clubs in Pakistan and India.

Two hundred Shelter boxes arrived in Islamabad today for distribution through the local Rotary District Governor of Islamabad. A two man Rotary team accompanied the consignment of Shelter Boxes. A further 200 shelter boxes will arrive in Islamabad tomorrow, Friday 14th. October. Also a consignment of tents are now in transit to Lahore for earthquake victims.

Four hundred Rotary Aquaboxes were dispatched to Pakistan yesterday Wednesday 12th October. A further 2,000 empty boxes are available for despatch to schools, church groups  and Rotary Clubs in Great Britain and Ireland for filling and sponsoring. 

Rotary is also supporting the International Rescue Corps who have a team of 6 Scotsmen and 8 Englishmen working in the earthquake area.

Each Aquabox can supply a family of four with pure water for three months, and each Shelterbox includes a tent and basic necessities for up to 10 people.

In addition Rotary Emergency Boxes have approximately 300 filled boxes in stock ready for despatch to the affected area. These provide blankets, clothing, food and essential items

Rotary Clubs in India and Pakistan are assisting with the relief effort, in particular many medically qualified Rotarians from Chandigarh and the Punjab, are working as volunteers in the affected areas.

Photographs of aid being used in disaster area available on request. Interviews with President Mike Webb available on request

For further information, to arrange interviews or photographs please contact
Judith Diment on 01628 672965  or 07860 162313 or email

For detailed information on fund raising activities by local Rotary Clubs see

Notes to editors

Founded in 1905 in Chicago, Rotary is a volunteer service organization with a worldwide membership of 1.2 million in 32,000 clubs in 168 countries. It celebrated its centenary on February 23rd   2005.

A standard Aquabox costs  £50.00 and can supply 1100 litres of purified water sufficient for a family of 4 for three months. An Aquabox 30 costs £250 and
comprises a rigid plastic container with approx. 75 litre capacity and 30 Filter / Purification  sets  to give a  33,000 litre capability.  For more information see

A Shelterbox  costs £490.00 and contains a ten person tent, sleeping bags, water purification equipment, basic tools, lighting and kerosene fuelled cooking equipment. For more information see

An Emergency box provides blankets, clothing, food and essential items






Dear Rotary Friends

Much has been happening in the last few days with regard to the Rotary response to the unfolding tragedy in Pakistan/Kashmir. You may have already seen the press release sent out by Judith Diment on 13th October, but if you haven't I have attached it to this email. As a

result I was asked to phone Vukoni LupaLusage at Rotary International to talk about the Rotary GB&I response, and I also attach a copy of an email he sent to me shortly afterwards. Following the Press Release, BBC TV Points West also featured Rotary's efforts in a story on their Thursday evening broadcast. As you will have heard on the news, UK based rescue teams, such as the International Rescue Corps team that was the first into Muzaffarabad, and for which I asked your support in my previous email, have now been pulled out by the government. As a result of these events I am therefore modifying the Rotary GB&I position.


Among the greatest needs over the forthcoming weeks in the stricken areas as winter approaches are going to be suitable (and acceptable) clothing, and shelter. Frank Lund of Aquabox has already suggested in an email to me that it would be more appropriate for Rotarians at this time to support Shelter Box. He promises that as Aid Agencies call for

either Standard or Aqua 30's they will send them, but it is his personal opinion is that the Shelter Box should have a higher priority at this disaster because of the onset of winter in the disaster area.Unless he is reasonably certain that Aquaboxes are going to be effectively monitored and used, he is reluctant to throw them "into a black hole" and just "hope for the best". He feels that a lot of aid ends up in a warehouse and is not effectively used. He also writes that there could well be some reluctance to accept western style clothing such as is usually included in Aquaboxes, as was evident in Sri Lanka earlier this year, not only because of the style, but also because there is great textile production in India and Pakistan. They also have the manufacturing ability to produce bottled water on the sub‑continent.

On Friday I spoke to Mr Jade O'Hanlon, the Asia Co‑ordinator for the International Aid Trust. During th past week they have already been in contact with Muhammad Faiz Kidwai, the District Governor for District 3270, which covers Pakistan and Afghanistan to arrange transport and distribution of relief within Pakistan. They have also contacted a shipping company and set up a contract to transport goods to Pakistan by sea. Through Global Hand I have arranged for them to be put in contact with a major European clothing retailer based in the UK who wish to make a major donation via a UK NGO working in Pakistan, and I have asked to be informed of the outcome. IAT's other activities have been to :‑


* Dispatch 40,000 bandages and 12 Aqua 30?s to the DG D3270.


* Talk with PIA and the Embassy about free airfreight for essential/urgent items.


* Obtain large warehousing and sorting facilities, in addition to their existing UK facilities.


* Contact major companies and local authorities for donations of necessary aid items.


Horwich Rotary club have obtained an articulated lorry trailer and have placed this in an easy access location this weekend where it will be a collection point for donated goods (blankets, clothes and shoes) which will then be collected, sorted and shipped by the International Aid Trust. Next weekend IAT will be extending the trailer collection points to cover 3 large football grounds (hopefully with a (bring‑a‑blanket? theme for supporters). Any Rotary clubs wishing to organise a similar event themselves should contact the International Aid Trust who will collect the trailer, sort the items, and ship them to Rotarians in Pakistan. IAT also need cash donations to help them cover the cost of this major operation.


I have been in contact with DG Kidwai by email requesting details of the bank account for the D3270 Disaster Appeal and as soon as I have any information I will update you. DG Kidwai can be contacted by email at, but it would be better if clubs and districts

refrained from making individual contact at this time, so that we can make a co‑ordinated Rotary GB&I response. It is often hard not to try to respond immediately in disaster situations, but there is going to be a need for a longer‑term sustained response, and thsi is what we are in

ideal position to provide.


In summary, the Rotary GB&I International Service Committee recommend that clubs and districts continue to support Shelter Box, that they consider sending cash donations to the International Aid Trust for the distribution of relief supplies, that they organise collections of

suitable clothing and blankets for shipping by the IAT, and that they make cash collections for later donation to the District 3270 Disaster Response Fund.


Please circulate this advice to all your clubs. I thank you all in advance for all your efforts, and I ask that you keep me informed of any developments in your districts. I would also request that any notable events are notified to Judith Diment for publication to the


Yours in Rotary

Keith Paver

Rotary GB&I International Service Committee Chairman.

Related pages...

Aquabox Visit By Gordon McInally


A Letter from Srilanka


The Minister Replies


Support of llaria Tista Oajaca


The Mike Webb Interview


Worl Disasters Letter from RI President


Tents & Shelter Boxes


Rotary Dat at the United Nations


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