Thu. Oct 22nd, 2020


Where Opinion Matters

Forming A Sustainable Disaster Management Policy in Pakistan

6 min read

The best Disaster Management practices lead to lasting solutions to natural calamities and create resilience among the communities. Unfortunately, In Pakistan, poor planning, inactiveness of the Institutions and poorly trained Disaster Management officials make the manageable Circumstances into Unmanageable one due to incompetence.

Pakistan has experienced various huge  disasters in the history  -be  it Earth Quake of  8th October 2005 , that hit the major parts of  Azad Kashmir  and  the capital of the country  ,killing 100s  of  people  and  hundreds of  people  were injured  , Hundreds of people  became  homeless since their  Houses turned into debris  by the  massive  earth  Quake  . This was the big ask for the Fragile Disaster Management Practices since there was no any institute or body to mitigate such High-level destruction.

These Grave Circumstances prompted the Government to establish the Earth Quake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA).  The ERRA contained professionals mainly from Pakistan Army since Our nation always looks toward the army in times of  Disasters as our brave soldiers rush to rescue, relief, and rehabilitate the communities.

The army Officers possess the high level of experience in disaster management and are always ready to help the Government in extenuating disasters. ERRA has done the marvellous job in rebuilding the demolished houses, roads and other structures. They also introduced various disaster Resistant technologies after researching the conditions for shelters and infrastructure.

The Super floods of 2010 also spread widespread destruction of crops, houses, industries and loss of hundreds of people. The Super  Floods affected various Parts of Punjab such as (Muzaffargarh, Raheem Yar Khan, Rajanpur), Parts of  Baluchistan and Major parts of  Sindh  Including  18 Districts of Sindh which were directly hit by the Floods. The District Kashmore was severely hit as the Tori Embankment is situated in the District. The Super Floods were caused due to overtopping of Indus river caused breach in the weak Tori dyke.

The River Indus inundated hundreds of Acres of Agricultural Land. People Stranded in the various places as the Breach occurred in the late Night when people were asleep and they were not aware of such breaking of the Dyke. The Super Floods were caused by the Heavy Rains in KP, Punjab that caused Flash Floods that engulfed entire Pakistan.

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Pakistan Metrological Department had issued Flood warnings to the people given the heavy rains recorded above 7.9 inches. The Rainwater destroyed roads, bridges, Communication, Electric Supply and uprooted Trees.

The Repercussions were very intense owing to being Hilly area and the water was flowing like the bullet inflicted collateral damage to properties. The rains also hit the Parts of Sindh, Punjab and Baluchistan bringing misery in the areas.

The UN  Secretary General Ban Kay Moon termed the Flooding as the biggest  Disaster he had ever seen and submitted his appeal for relief and  Rehabilitation to the  UN member Countries as the damage was too big for Pakistan to mitigate.

That was the time when disaster Management services were felt. The Govt of Pakistan thought over the establishment of  Disaster Management Authority to help Government Make the Contingency plans to fight existing and  Future Disasters.

The  Rain Floods of 2011, The frequent Rain floods in Baluchistan due to monsoon rains, Earth Quake of  Awaran Baluchistan 2013 warrant to have  Proper  Disaster Management Policy to alleviate  Natural Calamities in a proper way.  There is a need of establishing Disaster Risk Management fund at Provincial Level and District level to help provide relief to the affectees on time. Though, it has been established at National Level with the assistance of  Asian Development Bank.

The National Disaster Management Authority was established after provision of National Disaster Act 2010 by the Parliament to mitigate the Disasters and making contingency plans for catastrophes with the approval of NDMC (National Management Council) headed by PM.

The NDMA is headed by the chairman mostly from the army. It would be more effective if the chairman should be from the Development sector as they have great Training in Disaster Management and Other  Field Level Activities. The development sector organizations express their reservations to interact with military leadership.   The  NDMA act must create room for a civilian chairman who can steer the goals of Apex  Disaster Management Authority.  The NDMA  may be given the Financial Freedom to carry out rescue, relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation initiatives on its own and the Government should play the role of the Monitor or supervisor.

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The Establishment of NDMA is not sufficient but giving it financial freedom and proper Human resource is very necessary. NDMA must hold various Seminars at Federal Level to create awareness amongst the people and encourage them to strengthen their resilience in case of Natural Disasters especially those people who are frequently hit by natural disasters or prone to natural disasters such as the areas of KPK, Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan. Especially, Thar Desert of Sindh where drought, famine and Epidemics have engulfed the poor Tharies and so far, both the Federal and Provincial Governments have failed to assess the level of damage and mitigate such high level of Natural Calamity.

The Provincial Disaster Management Authorities of the provinces have no coordination among them in times of Disasters including NDMA that has created a great vacuum for intervention in the affected areas for both Government and Development partners.

The Development partners have the greater role as they had shown in the earthquake of 2005, Super Floods of 2010, Rain Floods of 2011 and Earth Quake of  2013 resulting (80% of destruction in Awaran District ) of Baluchistan.

Instead of shedding tears and clamouring for  The Help from International community, we need to develop a viable disaster Management Policy and  Disaster Risk Reduction Policy so that that the damages may be minimised at a massive level.

There is a strong need of Restructuring Disaster Management Services at District Level. The District Disaster Management Authority is headed by District Council Chairman and Its Members include DCs/DCOs, SSP, District Head of Health Department.  It is missing the key departments in case of flooding or rain emergency such as Irrigation, Agriculture, Works and Services Department, District Food Controllers, Social Welfare Department, Population Welfare and Information department.

The Deputy Director /Manager of grade 17/18 officer from the  Civil Services, PMS or Other departments may be appointed on deputation or Permanent basis to head DDMA and carry out its work smoothly since DCs /DCOs are career Civil servants and they get overburdened in times of Disasters. The Proper DDMA chief will make detailed Contingency Plans for Rain or Flood Emergency plans and appraise the District and Provincial Governments to take necessary arrangements ahead of such happenings.

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The DDMA must include INGOs/NGOs, CBOs, Philanthropists, Educators and others so that an effective Plan may be chalked out.

There is also need of establishing Taluka Disaster Management Committees, UC Disaster Management    Committees and Cluster Village Committees with the inclusion of Local Government representatives and Village Heads so that Disaster Management network may be strengthened.

The establishment of Provincial Disaster Management Institutes (PDMI)  in Every Provincial Head Quarter is imperative in order to impart disaster Management training to the Public Sector, Private Sector People of the respective province. The civil servants must have compulsory training in disaster management.

The NDMI (National Disaster Management Institute) is doing a great job in imparting Training to the Government officers, Private Sector and Development partners. It was also a welcome initiative to establish a National Disaster Risk Management Fund with Assistance from Asian Development.

It is imperative to devolve it at Provincial Level and District level so that the interventions in the disaster-affected areas may be initiated on time. It is accepted truth that disasters bring misery to the hustling-bustling cities and convert them into debris but with the proper disaster management policy, we may be able to mitigate the effects, create resilience and rehabilitate the affectees in a proper way.

The current PTI Government is well aware of the importance of Disaster Management and they need to frame the sustainable Disaster Management Policy in consultation with Policy Think tanks such as SDPI, IPS.SPDC, PILER and NDMI so that future disasters can be prevented and professionally mitigated.