Despite natural disasters: Disaster management bodies still dormant

Experts say law silent on district bodies’ ability to respond to crisis


Azam Khan November 01, 2015
Experts say law silent on district bodies’ ability to respond to crisis. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD:


The National Disaster Management Commission (NDMC) – a body tasked to chalk out a unified national disaster response plan – and its provincial subsidiaries have been nothing more than a toothless paper tiger since their inception, according to experts.


Despite a recent spate of natural disasters that have ravaged parts of the country,  provincial governments have failed to establish a functional governance structure for disaster management as required under National Disaster Management Act 2010.

While government web portals provide details of Provincial Disaster Management Authorities (PDMAs), they fail to mention the required governance structure and District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMAs).  Interestingly, provincial opposition leaders, who are key members of the PMDC, a governance structure established to respond in the aftermath of natural disasters, claim that they are unaware of the commission’s existence.

Though provincial administrations have established PDMAs, they did not set up District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMAs), as required under the law.

Highlighting legal loopholes, Sarwar Bari, an expert on governance, climate change and disaster management, said that the National Disaster Management Act 2010 does not specify District Disaster Management Commission’s (DDMC) ability to respond to such situations at grass root level. Supporting Bari’s assessment, Nasir Memon, Executive Director Strengthening Participatory Development, said that response mechanism at district level did not exist.

When questioned, a PDMA official in Sindh said that details of disaster management body’s function were not available on the web portal but the body exists on paper.  He said that there is nothing to show as far as PDMC’s performance is concerned. Similarly, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) disaster management website is mute on the existence of PMDC.

Meanwhile, defending the disaster management body, NDMA spokesperson Ahmad Kamal said that PDMAs are being headed by DGs at provincial level, who can provide relevant details.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 1st, 2015.

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