Rebuilding work in the Iranian oasis city of Bam is in full swing: following approval of the definitive master plan in early summer, the centre of the city, population 100 000, is now under reconstruction. “Bam is one huge building site,” is how Godi Koch, project manager for Caritas Switzerland, sums up the situation. Several Swiss relief organizations have been engaged in rebuilding houses for some months, after work had to be focused on Bam’s surrounding villages for the first eighteen months after the disaster.
All but CHF 258,000 has been used of the around CHF 10 million donated to Swiss Solidarity for the victims of the earthquake that struck two years ago. Seven Swiss Solidarity partner relief organizations are involved in Bam relief work: Swiss Red Cross (emergency aid, prostheses for amputees), Caritas (emergency aid, over 400 earthquake-proof houses), HEKS (emergency aid, 4 schools, 1 kindergarten); Medair (emergency aid, 110 houses, irrigation for date groves), Terre des homes, Lausanne (care of traumatized children in 15 district centres), Handicap International (prostheses workshop for 270 amputees and disabled people), Médecins du Monde (emergency aid).
The restoration of the old surface and underground channels providing irrigation for the date groves was of particular importance – in addition to tourism, the date groves are the main source of income for many families.
At the moment it is uncertain whether it will be possible to rebuild the old city and citadel, a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage and a major tourist attraction. UNESCO and the World Bank are currently examining the feasibility and financing of the project.
Bam was to a large extent destroyed by the massive earthquake at the end of December 2003.
Some 35 000 people lost their lives and around 12 000 were injured.