A Year After Pakistan Floods 2010
- In Pakistan, where
disasters have become more unpredictable, their frequency increased manifold and
climate change impacts more rampant, the capacity of the government to cope
with these challenges is diminishing with each passing day. There is a need for
right set of policies, mechanisms and capacity building measures aimed at risk
reduction and mitigation rather than response, to deal with both natural and
policy-led human disasters.
- Government needs to simultaneously
work on both midterm and long term strategies to cope with disasters in Pakistan. Some
of the midterm arrangements can be; a) enhancing disaster management capacities
at district level, b) multi hazard risk assessment, c) study on impacts of
climate change, d) establishment of national institute of disaster management,
e) disaster mapping in all districts, f) community based disaster management
and mitigation, g) enhancement of human, technical and financial capacities in
disaster management and response bodies at all level and g) mainstreaming DRR
in policies at federal and provincial levels.
- There is a shortage
of human capital in National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) which is
coping with mega disasters with a hand full of people (staff of 100 people
including 24 officers). Some of these staff and officers are serving on
deputation on ad hoc basis and are
subjected to frequent transfers and relocations. The compound nature of NDMA
demands adequate permanent, professional and specialist staff, well trained in
dealing with disasters and emergencies. Also the terrible erosion of technical
human resource from institutions such as irrigation department had multiplied
the intensity and destruction of disasters. Hence the government must ensure
availability of adequate professional staff in disaster management bodies and
their continued capacity building.
- The role of National
Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is primarily policy formulation,
coordination and resource mobilization while there is serious gap at
operational level in implementation, mainly with provincial PDMA’s. There is
need to immediately focus on the subject.
- Disaster management
is also marred by legislative and constitutional hindrances such as recently
passed 18th amendment, NFC and process of devolution under which disaster
management became responsibility of provinces without enhancing their
capacities and resolving unsettled and transitional issues between center and
- There exists an
unreasonable institutional dichotomy at government level. Over the period of
time, several governmental bodies, departments and organizations have been formed
to deal with disasters, with an overlapping mandate and cross cutting roles and
responsibilities i.e. NDMA and ERRA. Both are involved in early recovery and
reconstruction process in Pakistan.
Similarly Emergency Relief Cell (ERC) under the Cabinet Division, is also a
parallel body which had been decided to be defused in NDMA but had not been
merged till date. Further the Planning Commission of Pakistan was being involved
for reconstruction process after floods which created much ambiguity and raised
competency question as compared to NDMA and its role in the same. These weak conflicting institutional
arrangements and uncoordinated implementation must be addressed immediately.
- Revival of
agriculture and shelter are the most critical part of recovery and
rehabilitation process after Floods in 2010. Sufficient and timely agricultural
support by government and donor agencies to the affectees has resulted in
bumper wheat crop this year. Provision of shelter to affected communities is
another key challenge. It is suggested that government and donor agencies
direct major part of their resources on these sector, which will enable the affected
communities to be self reliant and rehabilitated in a very short span of time.
- There is a dire need
to put more resources on flood forecasting and management to effectively manage
floods in the coming years. Therefore, it is recommended to establish an Integrated
Flood Forecasting and Management System supported by Regional Flood Forecasting
Centers in four provinces and Localized Flash Flood Warning Centres coupled
with Radar Networks.
- It may be noted that
Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, northern areas and some parts of Punjab are prone to flash floods. These annual flash
floods bring very high water mass, with great intensity in much less time and are
very vital to be forecasted. But unfortunately, there is no flash flood warning
system in Pakistan except at
Nullah Lai in Rawalpindi.
Government must take measures to establish Flash Flood Forecasting and Warning
System in Pakistan.
- Historically, it was
a common practice for riverine communities living in katcha areas to migrate to higher grounds during flooding season.
With the construction of mega dams and embankments, these floods had became
rare and katcha areas’ exposed to all
kind of encroachments, land grabbing and human settlement. Naturally, these settlements
laying on river beds become vulnerable and hazard prone to flooding. Unfortunately,
major part of reconstruction activities is also taking place on the same
disaster prone areas making it a vulnerable and hazard prone reconstruction. Government should take responsibility on this
and devise some clear policies to address the issue.
- It was observed that
deteriorating infrastructure and ill-designed dams, embankments, dikes, bridges
and roads have added to worsening situation and turned the last years flooding
hazard into mega disaster. There is need to study all infrastructures for
remodeling, reshaping and reconstructing to avoid flooding in future.
- Deforestation was
another factor in massive floods of 2010. It is estimated that around 600 acres
of forest is annually cut in flood plains. Putting an end to deforestation
along with proper watershed management in these areas can significantly help in
coping with floods.
- Local communities
and people at some places can also be held responsible for widespread damages
and destruction. They tend to ignore repeated warnings by authorities for
evacuations and for adopting precautionary measures. Hence, it is quite
necessary to mobilize them for disaster risk reduction and mitigation to make
them more resilient and prepared to cope with disasters.
recommendations were presented by speakers mentioned below at a recent roundtable
discussion held in Islamabad.
the Event: Pakistan: A
Year After Floods 2010
Monday: July 27, 2011
- Lt-Gen ( Retd)
Nadeem Ahmad, Former Chairman, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)
- Mr M Zafar Iqbal,
Recovery Advisor, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Islamabad
- Mr Naseer Memon,
Chief Executive, Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO), Islamabad
- Dr Qamar-uz-Zaman
Chaudhry, Former Director General,
Department (PMD), Islamabad
- Dr Abid Q. Suleri,
Executive Director, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Islamabad