KARACHI: Calling on the government to urgently invest a minimum of two per cent of its district budgets in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), international aid agency Oxfam on International Humanitarian Day, said that the effects of fresh flooding in southern Pakistan may have been prevented if effective DRR mechanisms were installed in the flood-prone areas after the lessons learnt from the mega floods of 2010.
Failure to develop and implement effective DRR measures would keep crippling Pakistan’s economy and its people. The new flooding has put an additional stress on the government’s limited resources at a time when even a year after the 2010 mega floods, many reconstruction and rehabilitation needs are still unmet, including the repair of embankments.
This particularly has put the flood prone areas further at risk as the monsoon rains intensify. Fresh flooding has increased the number of those in need of shelter assistance making 60,000 people homeless together with the 800,000 people who are still without proper homes after the floods of 2010. “Humanitarian assistance provides valuable and life-saving assistance to those in need during crises.
However, it is the communities that face and cope with the first wave of disaster themselves before the government and aid workers can start their rescue and relief operations. Therefore, it is extremely important to ensure that communities are better prepared for disasters so that they are less reliant on outside assistance and can help themselves by mitigating losses at an early stage of disaster,” said Neva Khan, head of Oxfam in Pakistan.
It is an appalling fact that Pakistan has suffered 67 floods, of differing severity, and numerous other natural disasters in 64 years of its independence. “It is more than one flood per year,” Neva said. “It is unfortunate that despite being a disaster-prone country people still continue to suffer year after year, and absence of effective DRR measures is the main reason.
While disasters are likely to increase due to climate change, the government has a chance to make the state more resilient by ensuring that opportunities to embed disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation principles in the recovery and reconstruction activities are not being missed,” Khan said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2011.