Published Date: Jul 27, 2011
DISASTER RESILIENCE STRUCTURES AND COMMUNITIES VITAL TO EFFECTIVELY DEAL WITH FUTURE DISASTERS: EXPERTS
Experts and analysts Lt-Gen® Nadeem Ahmad, Former Chairman, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Naseer Memon, Chief Executive, Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO), Islamabad, Dr Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry, Advisor, Met & Climate Affairs Govt of Pakistan, M Zafar Iqbal, Recovery Advisor, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Islamabad said during a special seminar entitled “Pakistan: A year after flood 2010” organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Wednesday.
Dr Abid Q. Suleri, in his opening remarks, maintained that good policies can reduce the devastative impacts of disasters as often policy failures lead to human sufferings. He urged the need for right set of policies and mechanisms and underlined the need for self-reliance. “As a nation, we need to be collectively prepared to deal with both natural and policy-led disasters and should not solely remain dependent on external sources of support” he added.
Lt-Gen® Nadeem Ahmad highlighted the difficult context of 2010 floods and remarkable contributions and support provided by the international community, government and communities. He underscored revival of agriculture and shelter is most important needs of recovery and rehabilitation process. Talking of major challenges ahead, he said frequency of disasters is increasing with every passing day whereas the capacity of the government is decreasing. He said that disaster resilience structures and communities, lack of political and bureaucratic will, capacity and financial resources, overwhelming focus on KPK while neglecting the Southern areas of the country, and unsettled and transitional issues between federal and provinces due to 18th amendment and NFC are some of the key future challenges. He said that the weak institutional arrangement, faulty engineering structures and poor fund mobilization strategy of the government badly affected the reconstruction plans. He said that absence of local government system caused serious barriers in the process and highlighted the nine-point Mid Term Plan of NDMA recently prepared in consultation with stakeholders.
Dr Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry explained that the unusual interaction of two weather systems during 27-29 July and 2-9 Aug 2010 caused massive rainfall and flooding in Pakistan. He said that shifting of westerly wave and its interaction with easterly wave or monsoon coupled with jet stream stagnation for over two weeks led to heavy rainfalls and flooding. He clarified that widespread rainfall was predicted by Metrological department as they issued advisories on 24, 26 and 27 July 2010.
He said there are numerous challenges ahead for the country and highlighted the need for establishment of Integrated Flood Forecasting and Management System, Localised Flash Flood Forecasting and Warning System, Regional Flood Forecasting Centres in all four provinces, Integrated Flood Forecasting System supported by Regional Flood Forecasting Centre and Localized Flash Flood Warning Centres and Radar Network etc.
Naseer Memon said that there were several other reasons which made the floods furious in addition to abnormal climatic circle. He said that lack of efficient early warning system, massive flash flooding from Suleman ranges, ill-designed and badly implemented engineering structures such dams and barrages, expansion and encroachment of populations and cultivation to flood plain areas, deforestation and institutional gaps were the actual reasons of floods as it not only happened in 2010 but it took years to develop. “The terrible erosion of technical human resource from institutions particularly irrigation dept, and disaster management authorities such as DDMAs and PDMs except NDMA multiplied the intensity and destruction of floods” he underlined. He said that most challenging part of climate change is it is unpredictable and there is a dire need to put more money and energy to effectively manage floods in the coming years.
M Zafar Iqbal said that UN started flood response with 11 clusters across Pakistan. He said that if the UN System and Government would have been working in more coordinated and efficient way, the extent of destruction would have been less. He informed that accumulative financial support of the UN is around 70 percent of the total flood management support while there has been spontaneous response from different sources for the Early Recovery process.