In an almost textbook example of how not to manage an important and complex project the National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF) has run on to the rocks. Pakistan is prone to natural disasters of all types, and as global warming advances the frequency of natural disasters can only increase. Thus it is prudent, indeed wise, to set up such a body in order to mitigate the risks and create effective interventions. The $225 million NDRMF was set up 18 months ago with the help of a $200 million loan from the Asian Development Bank and has managed to create its own internal disaster before it has begun to address any of the issues faced nationally.
The body is supposed to be controlled by a board of governors but they are already in conflict with the management, which was itself appointed in an irregular manner. The board is made up of heavyweights led by Finance Secretary Arif Ahmad. The NDRMF CEO is now bypassing the board in the appointment of lower-ranking officers. He is mandated to hire 31 people but has advertised 56 posts. It is a reasonable assumption that those posts will be filled by those near and dear to the CEO. The CEO chose not to involve the three-member human resource committee in the hiring process. This irregularity has been highlighted by the Climate Change Secretary who is also a board member. Former PM Abbasi also had a hand in the appointment of the CEO which was the subject of frantic lobbying, and even he clearly had his doubts about what was unfolding as the CEO appointment was made for two years rather than the customary three.
This is a small but important body whose entire raison d’être is to reduce the socio-economic and fiscal vulnerability of the country in the face of natural disasters by creating risk-reduction strategies and advancing preparedness. To have it reduced to a shambles before it even sets up shop inspires no confidence whatsoever. Back to square one would seem like a good idea.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2018.
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