Responding to Pakistan’s Internally Displaced (RAPID)

The Challenge

Pakistan is one of the most disaster-prone countries in South Asia, according to the World Bank. In 2005, the country was hit hard by a 7.6-magnitude earthquake that originated in the north of the country and is considered to be the deadliest earthquake on record for the region. Five years later, the floods that began in July 2010 had a catastrophic impact on the country, with many Pakistanis still rebuilding their lives after the 2005 earthquake. 

It’s also difficult in Pakistan to support local NGOs and nonprofits. When an emergency such as an earthquake or flood hits, it can be difficult to know which organizations in the country are legitimate and able to use funding to help those who need it most. Time is of the essence in an emergency response, which places added pressure on the situation. 

What if there was a preexisting network for supporting local communities when an emergency hit? 

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A Rapid Response

In any crisis, the Humanitarian Imperative is to save lives and alleviate suffering. The faster an initial phase of response can be made, the better. This prevents situations from becoming complex (or, in most cases, more complex than they already are), whether it’s food and non-food kits being distributed to keep families healthy and safe following a flood, or rehabilitating a latrine system that was destroyed in an earthquake. 

From the beginning, Concern has rapid emergency response in its DNA. While working in Pakistan in 2009 with a community displaced by conflict, we realized that the Pakistanis living in an internal displacement camp were already more vulnerable to the potential side effects of another natural disaster. That August, with an investment from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), we launched Responding to Pakistan’s Internally Displaced (RAPID). 

The RAPID Model

The objective of the RAPID fund program is to assist the most vulnerable people in the aftermath of any natural or man-made disaster in Pakistan. With an established network of organizations, the program allows for funds to get where they need to go most, often in as little as two days. 

RAPID works closely with disaster management authorities, local NGOs, and communities to give smart and secure sub-grants to national and international organizations. Applications for project funding are submitted and evaluated based on the following criteria: 

  • Experience of the agency submitting the application
  • Nature of the problem they want to address
  • Capacity of the agency to deliver on their proposed solution
  • Budget and cost-effectiveness
  • Coordinating efforts with the government and other agencies

While many grants can take months (if not years) to be delivered, RAPID applications are processed within an average of two weeks — some have been processed in just two days. This makes RAPID the most easily-accessible fund for local partners in Pakistan.  In addition to providing grants, the program also offers disaster risk reduction support to local organizations and authorities, to help with strengthening their disaster management capabilities for the next crisis. 

Men trained in emergency response

Community members are trained in emergency response as part of a RAPID session in Pakistan. (Photo: Abdul Baqi)

Putting RAPID to the Test

Within the first year of the RAPID fund, Pakistan was consumed by floods in July, 2010. Within two months, 20 million people had been affected by the disaster, which killed 1,700 people, destroyed over 1 million homes, claimed acres of farmland and livelihoods from agriculture and livestock, and damaged local infrastructure (including nearly 500 healthcare centers, right when they were needed most).

USAID extended its funding for the RAPID fund to cover flood relief and address the very real needs on the ground. Within one year, RAPID-funded projects had reached over 600,000 people, covering needs like temporary shelter, non-food items, safe and clean water, and mobile health clinics.

Within the first five years of the program, RAPID had funded the construction of over 2,000 new, disaster-responsive homes. It also rehabilitated thousands of water systems and latrine systems, which reached over 340,000 people. More than 14,000 women and children were treated for malnutrition by RAPID-funded nutrition projects, and over 70,000 people were reached through RAPID-funded agricultural projects that helped local farmers get back on their feet. 

In its first year, RAPID reached over 600,000 people, covering needs like temporary shelter, non-food items, safe and clean water, and mobile health clinics.

RAPID in 2021

Over 10 years since its inception, RAPID continues to serve the people of Pakistan and has become a trusted entity in-country. Phase III is currently underway. 

Concern wrapped up Phase II of the RAPID program in 2019. A successful round of 116 projects (each receiving an average of $175,000) reached over 2.9 million people. Overall, 90% of our funding went to local NGOs, allowing them to put their expertise to work in their own communities. The communities served by these projects responded with an average satisfaction rate of 92.5%, according to an external and independent evaluation. 

RAPID Phase II by the Numbers


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