Knowledge Note

The earthquake that struck northern parts of Pakistan on the morning of October 8, 2005 left widespread destruction in its wake. It killed over 73,000 people and left more than 2.8 million in need of shelter at the onset of a harsh Himalayan winter, in a predominantly inhospitable rural terrain that was difficult to access. The earthquake affected nine districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) state, covering an area of approximately 30,000 square kilometers. Economic assets and infrastructure suffered extensive damage, with social service delivery, commerce, and communications either debilitated or completely destroyed. Vulnerable groups, mainly women and children living in inaccessible mountain areas with low levels of income and service provision, bore the brunt of the earthquake’s impact. Almost 600,000 houses were either completely destroyed or partially damaged. Virtually none of the housing in affected areas featured seismic considerations in their design. Compounding this was the generally poor quality of construction and maintenance.