Year 2014 was indeed an eventful one especially in the realm of Climate Change and Natural Disasters. South Asia on a whole and Pakistan in particular once again had to face climate change debacle in the form of heavy floods across the region which not only resulted in loss of lives but also catastrophic damages to the infrastructure and developmental projects.
Task forces were formed, conferences were held and officials were suspended and another year went by. But didn’t we go through the same charade in 2010 as well? If “steps” were taken to curtail the roaring monster of floods then why did it hit back in 2014? Crying over what went wrong isn’t going to solve anything. So, for a disaster-flood-free 2015 I have come up with some recommendations, which if implemented, can help save thousands of lives, households and vocations.
- Disaster Response Force should be strengthened through capacity building and training programs in order to effectively deal with the crisis situation and ensure that such disasters can be avoided. These capacity building opportunities will only enhance Pakistan’s ability to effectively mitigate the impacts of such disasters in future.
- National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMAs) should be equipped with Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS) laboratories in order to equip these organizations with latest technologies required for the prevention of natural disasters.
- GIS mapping for the flood prone and natural disaster sensitive areas of Pakistan will help the NDMA and PDMAs to easily monitor disaster risk reduction activities.
- Cooperation with other regional countries on climate change and disaster management in general and real time hydrological data exchange between India and Pakistan in specific needs to be strengthened.
- Micro level hazard risk and vulnerability assessment across the country should be carried on to address the issue effectively. This can be done by strengthening the resilience of the communities to deal with disasters through community support organizations.
- The early warning system should be strengthened through implementation of priority projects identified in Natural Disaster Management Plan.
- Civil Society organizations, provincial and federal organizations should create synergetic relations in order to deal with the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) issues effectively.
- Construction of additional water storage structures across main rivers and small and medium dams on secondary and tertiary rivers can not only lessen the effect of heavy downpours but also help in production of electricity.
- Comprehensive overhaul of current inefficient flood irrigation system in Indus Basin by systematically analyzing and investing in irrigation efficiency such as removal of encroachments from Flood Plains/Water Ways/Drains and stop further encroachment in High Risk Areas.
- Existing institutions should be strengthened by recruiting experts and providing adequate resources. Inter agency coordination needs to be strengthened for meeting on regular basis and proactively plan for better preparedness during the Monsoon season.
- Climate Change Policy formulated post 2010 floods needs to be translated into actions plans and strategies in order to achieve the goals of the policy.
- Satellite data on disaster management should be made available to all agencies to map the disaster stricken areas of the country.
- Strengthening the role of local government and grass root organizations which can improve institutional capacity and encourage better governance and in this regard district level disaster management authorities should be set up all across the country.
- Strengthen Global Change Impact Study Centre and other academic institutions to promote research on topics like food security, water management and glacial management.
If we can manage to incorporate these recommendations we can surely tackle the problem of floods and the carnage it brings with it; which is becoming more of a routine in South Asia and Pakistan now. So, what’s stopping us from doing so? I hope that these recommendations will find their way up to the highest echelons of our leadership, will be implemented and give us a disaster free 2015.
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