With their villages in shambles, winter on its way and government help slow to arrive, Pakistan’s flood victims are scrambling to rebuild their homes. Many are taking on debt as the price of construction materials has soared following the disaster that damaged or destroyed 1.9 million houses.

The rush to rebuild three months after the water first came tearing through is a sign of Pakistanis’ lack of faith in the weak civilian government, a key U.S. ally in the fight against Islamist militants whose patchy response to the crisis has undermined its stability. The government has promised it would come up with a long-term reconstruction strategy, but flood victims say self-reliance is a more realistic, and timely, option.

Aid agencies said they, too, are facing the time crunch and are running short of funds to provide temporary shelter for those displaced by the deluge.

Ghulam Ali’s three-bedroom, one-story house in this northwestern city collapsed during the floods. To rebuild, he has had to borrow $583 from friends and family — what many Pakistanis earn in half a year — but it hasn’t been enough to even get past the foundation. To top that off, the 46-year-old lost a fortune in tools and products when his shoe shop was damaged by the floods.

All around Ali in the Abakhel neighborhood of Nowshera city are damaged houses and desperate residents. A few streets away, a family unable to start rebuilding has pitched a tent within their damaged home’s walls.

“Courage and hope is the only thing we have left,” said Ali, whose family has been staying with relatives.

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