Disaster management is an investment for a safe and sustained future of any country. Pakistan is a disaster prone country and unfortunately the disasters in the future would be even more frequent and severe. If precautionary measures are not taken now they would then leave tremendous economic, social and environmental impact which would be crueler than before. Basically disasters are divided into man produced or induced and natural. They appear in many shapes i.e. cyclones, floods, earthquakes, landslides, epidemics, pest/locust infestation, oil spills, marine disasters, urban and forest fires, road accidents, glacial outbursts, avalanches, erosions, wind storms and droughts. Pakistan is signatory of Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-15 and is bound to meet its demands. But Pakistan has failed to meet commitments made under both HFA and MDGs.
UNDP in 2002-03 ushered a paradigm shift in Pakistan’s disaster management system and made it proactive from previous reactive system. It developed a systematic Disaster Risk Management (DRM) system in Pakistan. A National Disaster Risk Management framework was worked out in 2007, under which we had to meet deadlines in five years, but we could not. Now we have NDMA, PDMAs and DDMAs as well as personnel to cope with calamities, but if truth be told nothing has actually been done. The three ‘R’ formulas of rescue, recovery and reforms are hardly practiced and reconstruction and rehabilitation is left to the affected people.
The flood effected are now blocking roads to ask for relief, government announced twenty five thousand rupees, as first installment, for compensation but it remained lame as they were given checks where no banks exist. How were these disaster-hit people, expected to cash a check, when banks closed for Eid? Many who could go came back empty handed, as the banks did not honour the check. A PM who spent 400.000$ on his trip to USA gave the poor Rs 25,000?
The institution of Civil Defense seems dysfunctional and we lack implementation of building codes, in making disaster reduction plans, strategies and policies, in political will, in training and making the general masses aware, monitoring and evaluation mechanism and evacuation (as was needed during fire outbreak in Baldia Town, Karachi) in all cases. But we are very rich in corruption and making money from disasters. Instead of spending money on VIPs’ tours to disaster areas for photo shoots, small and medium sized dams, water reservoirs and bunds should be built.
ZULQARNAIN SEWAG,
Jhang, October 13.