Updated: Jan 11, 2006
ACTED report on recent Kala Dhaka assessments
Januray 9th, 2006
ACTED has begun assessments in the Basi Khel tribal area of Northern Kala Dhaka. The team travelled from Batagram to Thakot (about 40 minutes, Hilux), from Thakot to Jhodba (about 2 or 2.5 hours), then with Mansehra ESC contact Sadeeq Khan on a rough jeep track from Jhodba to Kunday (about 3 hours, Kunday had almost no destruction) and then on foot about 90 minutes to the village of Geetu. They had time to collect basic information on Geetu. The road from Jhodba to Kunday was terrible and virtually impassable except for very brave jeeps and tractors (and one award-winning Hilux driver.) The team says that helicopter dropping-and-managed-distribution is the only realistic way to get things to the places that they saw (with the exception of one village located near the river) and they are identifying landing sites as they go. There was a "lot" of snow in the higher elevations; about 2-4 inches remaining, after some melting, in Geetu. Most destruction seems to be at high elevations.
On the second trip, they again spent the first night in Jodbha with Sadeeq and woke to find several maulvis (religious teachers) inciting a few groups of people against the presence of NGO's in Kala Dhaka. Their assessment of the situation was that the affected populations (mostly coming from the higher elevation, but not exclusively) were universally in favour of NGO presence and that the opposition came from unaffected peoples lower down, and, further, that the majority of unaffected people were also in favour of NGO presence, but that this minority was vociferously opposed. The local people agreed to hold some kind of jirga to solve the problems and let us know whether a unified answer about NGO presence was possible from the community and, if so, what it may be.
Given the sensitivity of the issue, our team decided that ACTED would not enter Kala Dhaka until an answer of some kind (whether from the jirga or someone better informed than us) was received. Our team felt that other NGOs could continue their efforts without problems. The issue has now been resolved, as far as we can tell, after a personal contact of one of the team members defused the issue and got the sides to agree to welcome NGO’s. After Eid we will resume assessments. The team plans to first meet with local leadership and consult the mulvees to confirm the resolution of the issue. ESC/OCHA leadership is invited to consult what Khan’s they’ve been in touch with from Basi Khel to confirm this as well, if they feel it necessary.
In general, this and other indications of disunity may indicate that the feasibility of the INGO community to easily interface with a coherent, clear hierarchy of control in Kala Dhaka (or at least the Basi Khel area) is questionable, but hopefully work can continue efficiently with a bit of diplomacy.
Our team identified six needy villages in the area; it's still unclear if these are truly the six most affected in all of the Basi Khel area or, if not, what region their supremacy encompasses.
The six villages are:
ACTED plans to continue assessments of most or all of these villages in the next two weeks, potentially including villages accessed by the "Japan Pull" road that comes west off the KKH south of Thakot.
Other GPS; I believe these are all along the Thakot road heading west:
Shah Dogh (Pogh?)
Also peripherally identified as being badly affected was the Nusrat Khel village of "Chong" (ODC is assessing Nusrat Khel?)
FYI, OCHA Batagram is probably going to start including the Thakot road into KD in their daily road status updates.
Let us know if you have any questions. Our base in Batagram is still very basic, so phone communication is probably the best, though unreliable.
Casey Connor, ACTED Batagram
+92 (0) 333-569-9017