The country’s apex disaster management body has devised ambitious plans both in the long- and short-term to lessen the impact of any future disaster.
On Thursday, the head of the National Disaster Management Authority, Dr Zafar Qadir, outlined the authority’s long and short-term plans, many of which appear daunting given the record of the government’s response in past disasters.
Under the short-term plan, 29 districts have been identified as facing “a probability of flooding” in the coming monsoons. Dr Qadir listed them as Badin, Thatta, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allah Yar, Mirpurkhas, Sanghar, Umerkot, Tharparkar and Dadu from Sindh, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Rajanpur, Layyah, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Bhakkar, Mianwali and Faisalabad from Punjab, Musa Khel, Loralai, Barkhan, Kalat and Lasbela in Balochistan and Nowshera, Charsadda, Swat, Mardan, Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
To curb the threat in those districts, the federal and provincial governments have been asked to reserve specific amounts in their budgets for disaster relief. According to Qadir, the provinces had been told to prepare for a worst case scenario and reminded that the implementation of disaster management falls under the provincial government’s mandate following the passage of the 18th amendment.
Outlining the authority’s long-term plans, Qadir said the NDMA has drafted a disaster risk reduction policy proposing climate change and disasters be viewed as inter-linked. The draft policy recommends scrutiny of all proposed mega-projects by experts to evaluate any potential impact on climate-related calamities.
The policy also proposes introducing disaster risk insurance for poverty-stricken areas vulnerable to natural disasters. Dr Qadir told reporters that the disaster risk reduction policy is all set to be sent to the cabinet.
He disclosed that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has agreed to provide $1.5 million for installing telemetry systems to monitor all watercourses across the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2012.