The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) recently announced a plan to provide disaster risk insurance for Pakistan’s 180 million people to cover the loss of human lives, livelihoods, shelter and livestock. This would be the biggest ever insurance venture in the world. While this is a welcome move, considering how natural disasters have caused widespread damage across Pakistan in the recent past, it remains to be seen whether the NDMA will be able to successfully implement its plan and provide relief to disaster-struck communities.
The way the government reacted to the 2010 and 2011 floods that devastated vast tracts of land, rendered people homeless and destroyed their properties displayed the lack of planning and foresight regarding the rehabilitation of those affected by these disasters. However, it seems that the government and the NDMA have now realised that something needs to be done to ensure that this state of affairs is not repeated in case of another natural disaster. There seems to be a realisation that apart from providing timely assistance, there is also a need to rehabilitate the affected people.
Last year’s flood affectees still have not been fully rehabilitated. All available resources are needed to help these people who are among the poorest in the country. Thus, the NDMA’s plan to provide disaster risk insurance to the entire nation is commendable. If and when this initiative is commenced, an awareness campaign to educate the people about disaster risk insurance must be launched simultaneously. Also, in the past we have seen how good initiatives are launched with much fanfare but then remain on paper only. It is granted that we need good laws and/or initiatives but what we also need is a mechanism that allows for these projects to be effectively implemented. Merely coming up with good ideas is not a solution. Translating those ideas into result-oriented programmes is the way forward. Let’s hope the NDMA follows through on its plan.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2012.