QUETTA (APP): The Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability (TDEA) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has initiated the process of facilitating 85,000 women and other marginalized groups in nine flood-hit districts of Balochistan and Sindh provinces in acquiring their National Identity Cards (NICs).

The project ‘National Identity Cards for Women and Marginalized Groups in Flood-Affected Areas’ was launched here in a ceremony on Monday, which was attended by the officials of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), provincial and District Disaster Management authorities, district administration, and the representatives of the civil society organizations and media.

Under the project’s initiative, 36,000 fresh NIC registration cards will be issued to women. Also, 49,000 replacement cards will be delivered free of cost to women, persons with disabilities, and transgender persons who have lost their NICs due to displacements in three districts of Balochistan (Jaffarabad, Naseerabad, and Jhal Magsi) and six districts of Sindh (Sanghar, Khairpur, Larkana, Mirpur Khas, Ghotki, and Dadu).

TDEA’s Representative Ms. Rashid Chaudhry said his organization has been leading initiatives for the past twelve years to encourage the participation of women and other marginalized groups in the electoral and political processes. TDEA pioneered this work with the support of NADRA in 2011 when it started to facilitate women for the acquisition of NICs. The initiative has shown results as it has now turned into a mega national effort.

Mr. Rashid said there is more to be done especially in areas that have recently been affected by the worst-ever floods that displaced millions of people and brought unsurmountable miseries to them. Many lost their NICs and other documents that they need to access state services. He said TDEA and its partners are pleased to be part of exemplary nationwide efforts to ameliorate the conditions of flood-affected people of Sindh and Balochistan.

Speaking at the occasion, Member Provincial Standing Committee on Local Government Malik Naseer Shawani said that recent floods caused immense loss of life and property. He regretted that the response by the government and the aid agencies did not match the field requirements. He said collective efforts on the part of the government, civil society, and aid agencies to invest more resources were the need of the hour.

Ms. Fauzia Shaheen, Chairperson, Balochistan Commission of the Status of Women (BCSW) said that NIC registration of women needs to be prioritized in Balochistan to minimize the gender gap in citizen registration. She said registration of flood victims was critical for them to access relief and rehabilitation services.
Syed Shabahat Ali, Director Operations, NADRA, Balochistan said that NADRA was making affirmative actions to facilitate more women registration in order to bridge the registration gap between men and women, particularly in flood-affected districts.

Ms. Rubaba Khan Buledi, Secretary to Advisor on Law and Parliamentary Affairs also spoke on the occasion. She said flood victims in many Balochistan districts were awaiting support in rehabilitation and the provision of NICs to women victims of the flood was critical in helping women cope with the disaster and claim their benefits and entitlements.
UNDP Balochistan Chair, Mr. Zulfiqar Durrani said that this project, supported by UNDP, was a pilot project to provide NICs to flood victims. He said the UN was playing its role in mobilizing resources and building the capacity of disaster management bodies for an effective response to the catastrophic floods.

Mr. Nasrullah Khan, Executive Director, the Center for Peace and Development (CPD), the implementing partner of TDEA, offered a note of thanks to the participants. He said that CPD has been facilitating women’s registration for the past many years and the newly-launched project will serve the needs of flood-affected populations in the Naseerabad Division.
Project Lead Ms. Hina Tabassum moderated the proceedings. Representatives of District Disaster Management Authority Naseerabad, NADRA’s zonal heads in Naseerabad and Sibi, representatives of the National Humanitarian Network (NHN), Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Balochistan Rural Support Program (BRSP), civil society organizations and media were among the participants of the event.

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