Japan has agreed to provide a modern ‘warning system’ to Pakistan which will enhance the country’s capacity for early flood forecast, said chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Dr Zafar Iqbal Qadir on Saturday.
A survey to assess damages in flood-hit areas will be started next week, Qadir said, while speaking at the launch of a global United Nations campaign, seeking to make cities resilient against natural disasters, and build one million ‘safe’ schools and hospitals across the globe.
The survey will focus on preparedness and preemptive measures to avert natural disasters, he said, adding that hazard vulnerability profile of all the districts will be prepared soon. A national disaster response force, staffed with trained personnel and equipped with modern tools, will initially be launched at the federal level and then at the provincial and local levels, Qadir added. “Disaster risk reduction policy to minimise losses will also be launched soon.”
Making cities resilient
The UN campaign to make cities resilient was launched formally in around two and half dozen cities of Pakistan. The campaign pledges to build resilience against natural catastrophes by adopting a proactive, preventive approach to reduce vulnerability and enhance preparedness levels.
Margareta Wahlstrom, special representative of the UN secretary-general for disaster risk reduction, said that 216 schools and 23 hospitals across Pakistan have committed to make their structures safer against natural hazards.
There is no short term solution to the problem, but improving irrigation and flood warning systems as well as avoiding high-density population along river banks under a coherent strategy could help minimise the impact of natural calamities, she added.
Flood aid trickles in
An amount of $150 million in lieu of flood aid has been pledged by the donors so far, according to the UN Humanitarian Coordinator Timo Pakkala. The UN had appealed for $357 million for rapid response for flood victims in Sindh and Balochistan.
“Only $59 million has been received so far for flood victims,” Pakkala added.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2011.