Islamabad - The International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction is being celebrated every year on 13th October since 1989 with a different theme to promote a global culture of risk awareness and disaster reduction, which includes disaster preparedness, mitigation and prevention. Last year, “Sendai Seven” campaign with seven targets of Sendai Framework was launched and this year’s focus is Target B: Reducing the number of affected people by disasters by 2030.

This day motivates, encourages to all communities individual and organisations to play their role in building more disaster resilient communities and nation.  Generally, the term Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is used for a broad development and application of policies, strategies and practices to minimise vulnerabilities and disaster risks throughout society.  World over countries were taking measures in accordance with Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015, which has ended after 10 years in the March 2015 and has been replaced with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015- 2030).  The Sendai document has been developed after three years of the consultation process with United Nation Members’ States, non-governmental organisations and concerned stakeholders to have an improved version of the existing Hyogo Framework with sets of common standards, achievable targets and legally based documents for disaster risk reduction.  The members’ states also focused on the disaster risk reduction and climate change adaption for achieving sustainable development goals.

Pakistan is also a signatory for the global progress in achieving the goal of the Sendai Framework. All member countries including Pakistan are agreed upon the set targets which includes reducing global disaster mortality by 2030, reducing number of affected people by 2030, reducing direct disaster economic loss, reducing disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030; increasing the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020; enhancing international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of the framework by 2030. Besides that increasing the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030.

Keeping in view the agreed targets the progress in all aspects of the Disaster Risk Reduction is possible by solid concrete and organised steps in the field of emergency preparedness with effective monitoring system like Emergency Service Rescue 1122, as all the calls are being monitored in the command and control room, all emergency vehicles are on tracking system and all districts of Punjab are being monitored through Provincial Monitoring Cell (PMC) Lahore, The monitoring system at districts and province level ensures uniformity, timely emergency response and quality emergency services to all without any discrimination which ultimately results minimizing death and disabilities in emergencies and disasters.

In Punjab, another positive step to enhance emergency preparedness at Union Council level has been taken through Rescue Mohafiz Program and Pakistan Youth Initiative to capacitate and bridge up communities with the government to have collective and organised efforts for disaster risk reduction. Local communities are the main actors of the disaster response and disaster risk reduction.

Furthermore, disaster-prone communities are always enriched with their experiences, local and indigenous knowledge for an effective disaster risk reduction planning. Every community knows better about hazards, vulnerabilities and capacities of their respective areas and elders of those communities are used to cope up with different pattern of disasters with their local knowledge and expertise. Using existing resources, expertise and knowledge helps in effective planning, organizing, implementation, monitoring and reviewing phases for improved and sustainable disaster risk reduction. T

he Government, Non Government, International and community organisations who are working to sensitize community through advocacy, capacity building and community resilience really deserve appreciation and should work together instead of putting their efforts in scattered way. The classical example of this model is working of Punjab Emergency Service Rescue 1122 with International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) to protect healthcare workers by sensitizing the community on respect of emergency vehicles and staff to reduce the number of causalities.

Similarly, working with Overseas (VSO), Humanetek Pvt Limited, Rescue Mohafiz (Volunteers) and Pakistan Scouts for self-sustained change in the society, community resilience and promotion of safety. It is high time to realize that all stakeholders should work together for concrete measures to prepare organizations and communities in general for achieving the target of reducing the number of affected people by disasters by 2030. May Allah keep our country safe from all disasters and make us a real contributor as a civilized citizen of the Pakistan.

–The writer is Head Community Safety and Information Headquarters, Rescue 1122