ISLAMABAD: Pakistan despite being an agriculture land and in abundance of water resources lacks water storage capacity leading to frequent floods, say Dutch experts. The country’s total storage capacity is estimated to be only nine per cent.
This was the crux of discussion and media briefing between experts from Dutch Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and the Ministry of Planning officials at the Pakistan Secretariat on Thursday. The experts discussed ways of improving water management in Pakistan.
In every occurrence, floods have caused damage to properties, crops, livestock, bridges, communication and transport networks, yet ground realities have always been neglected while devising plans and formulating policies, they agreed.
The Dutch team, which is here on government’s invitation, is headed by Jos Sonneville and comprises, Ele Jan Saaf and Frank van Steenbergen.
The delegation aims to share expertise from the Netherlands’ public and private water sectors with Pakistan to find new and smart solutions against floods and droughts.
The mission intends to analyse the frequent occurrence of devastating floods, provide recommendations on reducing risks, and scope opportunities for cooperation with the Dutch water sector. In this context, the team shared the experience of the Netherlands in its own delta-management.
Rick Slettenhaar, Head of Economic Affairs at the Netherlands embassy in Islamabad, said he was immensely pleased that the Dutch water experts have been invited to share their insight. “As a country largely below sea level, the Netherlands is the global leader on water management,” he said.
Dutch water management firms have both the analytical insight and technologies to address Pakistan’s water problems in very concrete ways, he added. “I am excited at the potential for new solutions and new partnerships.”
Ele Jan Saaf, who has spent years, working and living in Pakistan, was hopeful that a mission at this level would enable the Pakistani government and the provinces to bundle their energy in developing concrete measures to reduce flood risks in the future.
Experience of the team in terms of applying these approaches to specific circumstances offers a unique opportunity with which the responsible institutions in Pakistan may address the recurring problems, agreed Pakistani officials present in the meeting.
The officials added that lack of integration was the basic problem when planning and dealing with floods.
Rather than focusing on immediate emergency relief, the DRR team concentrated on long-term, smarter solutions involving the private sector.
The team will visit Lahore and the flood-affected areas in the region.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2015.