UN-HABITAT has been invited by Iran to assist with reconstruction in the historic Silk Road city of Bam following a devastating earthquake that claimed more than 43,000 lives and destroyed homes, schools, offices and other infrastructure.
The city of Bam, about 1,000 km southeast of the capital Tehran with a population of some 93,000, was hit by an earthquake measuring 6.3 points on the Richter scale in the early hours of 26 December. The devastation included the loss of some 45,000 homes, underground irrigation canals, and the destruction of a large part of the city’s 2,000 year-old citadel – one of the wold’s largest mud-brick structures.
With aftershocks frequent, the city is covered in rubble, and those families whose houses were not completely destroyed are afraid to return, while others remain too traumatised to start clearing it. But with the support of least 75 NGOs, international agencies and UN humanitarian organisations the government has been able to sucessfully undertake relief operations.
The Iranian government is now poised to launch a reconstruction programme, which it intends to carry out on the basis of revised master plan of the city. A two-member UN-HABITAT assessment team, which visited Bam 5-14 February, reviewed how to effectively address the shelter needs of families affected by the earthquake.
It is proposed that construction technology for earthquake resistant structures will be integrated through community consultation and training programmes in association with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Islamic Revolutionary Housing Foundation, and in partnership with Bam Municipality. It will be coordinated through existing government bodies.
According to the report of the assessment team, the project implementation will include the development of community consultation mechanisms, training sessions, and housing delivery using local materials. These will be achieved through small grants, which will be allocated to the most needy, and supported by technical home reconstruction assistance.