Editor: Rana Qaisar   
Founding Editor: Shafqat Munir   

With IOM’s Support Phase-I of the Watan card compensation programme ends; 

16 Julie 2011 02:24:00

With IOM’s Support Phase-I of the Watan card compensation programme ends;


Beneficiaries faced immense problems in receiving the money they deserved


An IOM mass information campaign has helped the Pakistan government to complete the first phase of a major cash compensation programme for victims of the devastating floods that hit the country a year ago. The initiative was part of a government assistance package to help affected communities and households start rebuilding their lives.


Phase-I of the Watan card compensation programme ending today, which provides disaster-affected families with cards operational at cash point machines and each worth Rs 20,000 (USD 232), has reached almost 35,000 beneficiaries in Sindh province and another 15,000 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, from the outset the scheme ran into implementation problems that required mass communications to get the money to those most in need.


For instance, beneficiaries needed a Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) to be eligible for a Watan card, and many did not have one. Widows and child-headed families also faced difficulties, as CNICs are generally issued to the male head of family. Many people did not know how to apply for a CNIC or Watan cards, or what the eligibility criteria was. Uneducated beneficiaries also found it impossible to complete the registration forms and many people had lost their documents in the floods. The government registration authority, NADRA, had mobile registration vehicles, but often had difficulty identifying areas where registration was needed.


Following a request from district governments in Sindh and the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), IOM launched a mass communications campaign to help people access the programme. IOM developed and broadcast radio messages in 12 districts in Sindh and eight districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, informing communities about the deadline, application and collection procedures for Watan cards. Two print campaigns were also published in local newspapers including Kavish (Sindh), Express, Aaj and Mashriq (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). Approximately 7,000 text messages were sent out to information volunteers in the Human Network, who relayed the information to mobilize their communities.


IOM’s Humanitarian Call Centre, which operates a toll-free helpline for disaster-affected communities, also gathered lists of people who had not yet collected their Watan cards. Beneficiaries were able to phone in to find out if their card was ready and where to collect it from. IOM Information Officers were also seconded to district government offices.