The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Monday appointed award-winning celebrities from the world of music and sport as ambassadors for Pakistan’s early recovery effort from the country’s unprecedented floods.

Pakistani pop singer Hadiqa Kiani and tennis player Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi will use their celebrity and broad appeal to help UNDP raise the profile of needs of more than 20 million people starting to rebuild their lives after the floods that have devastated the country since July.

Hadiqa and Aisam will deliver messages of support for early recovery efforts as UNDP mounts efforts in 39 of the worst affected areas of the country to restore livelihoods through job creation, repair of basic community infrastructure, and strengthening of local government offices to get public services running again.

“UNDP is helping communities affected by the floods rebuild their lives and I am proud to add my personal commitment to these efforts,” said Hadiqa, who has already helped UNDP raise awareness about environmental issues through her songs.

“It is important for me to help people who lost everything because of the floods to get back on their feet,” said Aisam. “I am honoured to become a Goodwill Ambassador for UNDP in Pakistan.”

Hadiqa has released five albums since 1995 and won numerous national and international awards including one of Pakistan’s most prestigious civil awards. Aisam has won more Davis Cup matches for his country than any other Pakistani tennis player. He raises funds for flood survivors through his family’s Haq Foundation.

To help communities recover from the floods, UNDP will provide 2,500 grants to affected small and home-based businesses, agricultural goods, including seeds and fertilizers, and will create temporary work to repair roads, water facilities and protection walls.

The Programme has already started cash-for-work projects in the districts of Charsada and Nowshera in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and is partnering with 18 national non-governmental organizations to expand early recovery projects to other areas of the country.

“There is not a house in Pakistan that does not know the name of Hadiqa and Aisam. They have the hearts of the people”, said Timo Pakkala, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Pakistan.

“UNDP is very pleased that Hadiqa and Aisam-ul-Haq have come on board as our first national goodwill ambassadors in Pakistan,” said Toshihiro Tanaka, UNDP Country Director. “We look forward to a fruitful partnership in support of the huge task of early recovery in the coming year.”

“The Government is delighted that two talented young icons like Hadiqa Kiani and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi have joined the Government’s and UNDP’s efforts to help communities recover from the devastating floods that have affected millions of people”, said Lt.

Gen. Nadeem, Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority of Pakistan. “Their efforts will go a long way in inspiring others to give their time, efforts and resources to help the country recover”.