PESHAWAR: How many times can we rebuild a city? I am bound to ask this question because weather anomalies have caused damage in many cities.
Enforced migration in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) has only been viewed in the context of armed conflict. However, a silent trend has emerged over the last five years, which has gone unnoticed and unacknowledged. Many people have started migrating as a direct consequence of climate change.
While the numbers that fall into the category of climate migration have not yet become part of mainstream discourse, the phenomenon remains a fact.
Tracing the trend
At least 1,400 people died in a massive flood in 2010, which we now know was because of cloud bursts and weather anomalies never witnessed in K-P before. The province was sent back “twenty years in time in terms of development” but floods were massive and affected the entire country.
Six years later, we have isolated instances of such anomalies in areas that have the capacity to wipe out entire villages. These include lightning induced landslides in Kohistan, soil erosion in Chitral and a death toll of 61 that is still soaring as rains continue to batter the region.
Shangla has been adversely affected since 2010. With little or no infrastructure remaining, particularly in the upper parts of the district, people in Shangla have been forced to reconstruct their houses more than thrice over the past five years. This is not only because of increased changes in weather patterns but also because of earthquakes that wreaked chaos there.
A large number of people from villages have left because the compensation provided by the government was not sufficient to reconstruct houses and buildings at such high altitude.
Obsolete construction patterns
According to statistics, in more urban localities such as Peshawar and Mardan districts, 52 people have been killed in rain-related accidents in March alone. The rain only lasted for four days but deaths kept being reported much after weather system had subsided.
This was because construction patterns, even in the most developed areas, are no longer relevant to current weather conditions. Every day, buildings collapse because of outdated structures and while this report is being written, another house collapse has killed four members of a family.
With no formal codes of construction and with no realisation about increase in rainfall in Peshawar in the last decade, the government keeps pushing for disaster management, which literally means pulling out bodies and paying for damages of life and property.
A matter of time
Around 11 districts of K-P, which are also some of the more impoverished ones, are being consistently rebuilt. How long can people of these areas survive catastrophes and their aftereffects are questions which only they can answer.
However, judging by climate-induced migration in other parts of the world, we know there is not much time. Moreover given the current state of affairs of the government, it is evident that it is finding it difficult to fulfil what it promised. How long will it keep rebuilding these towns, villages and cities?
There are no statistics on climate migration as yet. It is neither part of population policy nor under the mandate of disaster management authorities. For now, there are independent bodies seeking to solve problems without taking into consideration one of the not-yet-spoken-about yet significant cause of it all – climate change and induced migration.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2016.
The Ministry of Climate Change is scheduled to meet on March 29 to review development projects for next fiscal year as part of adaption and mitigation measures to boost the country’s overall climate resilience.
The Departmental Development Working Party (DDWP) will review seven projects to be proposed for funding.
The projects to be reviewed by the DDWP include strengthening capacity for effective implementation worth Rs19.52 million and development of taxonomic profile of mammals in support of international agreements costing Rs59.9 million. Each of the projects would run for three years.
The meeting will also consider establishment of climate change reporting unit in the ministry with a cost of Rs41.38 million to be completed in four years, multi-hazard vulnerability and risk assessment and deployment of national disaster risk information system costing Rs59.58 million, and protection and mainstreaming of vulnerable women, children, elderly and disable in disaster management project worth Rs58.04 million.
The national disaster spatial data infrastructure project costing Rs59.86 million to be completed in one year and implementation of human resource development plan on disaster management for capacity building of government and other stakeholders worth Rs34.07 million to be completed in five years will also be considered for proposal ahead of the coming fiscal budget.
The meeting will discuss goals and objectives of the projects and various aspects related to their implementation, sources informed.
In the past, DDWP also proposed projects in similar meetings which could not be materialised due to shortage of funds and weak nature of projects, as the Central Development Working Party only considered projects prepared in sound technical manner.
In the wake of increasing climate induced incidents, the climate ministry has come under strong criticism by parliamentarians for not having a national level awareness and advocacy programme.
Experts are of the view that climate ministry should prepare more projects for adaptation and mitigation and Planning Commission must seriously consider these projects and arrange funds from its Public Sector Development Programme.
At present, only one project on persistent organic pollutants is operating with World Bank funding.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2016.
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