Educational Facilities in Remote Settlements

On October 8, 2005, a violent earthquake of 7.6 magnitude on the Richter scale jolted northern Pakistan (epicenter 95km northeast of Islamabad), causing entire villages to disappear under a pile of rubble and earth. The mountainous regions of the Khyber Pakhtoon Khwa (formerly known as the Northwest Frontier Province) and Pakistan Administered Kashmir were some of the worstaffected districts, while tremors were felt across the whole South Asian region. Many of the affected villages were remote, at elevations of up to 5,000 feet, and were difficult to reach by vehicle and especially vulnerable to harsh winter conditions. Education infrastructure was particularly hard hit, with over 5,000 school structures either partially or fully destroyed. Already-existing weaknesses in the school system—teacher absenteeism and lack of parental support for education, especially for girls—were exacerbated by the emergency. School buildings also function as meeting rooms, prayer halls or safe community shelters during emergencies. Thus, these key buildings need to be built back safer so they can protect the children and adults of a community. In response to extensive damage to schools, CRS’ Pakistan Earthquake Emergency Response (PEER) project placed the rebuilding of schools as a priority. Due to the remote and mountainous terrain of many of the school locations, CRS took an innovative approach to school reconstruction, designing light, steel-based structures that are pre-fabricated in a warehouse, delivered in easyto-handle pieces and assembled on site. Communities helped to transport materials over narrow mountain paths and carried out most of the construction.