The term disaster risk reduction is generally used for the broad development and application of policies, strategies and practices to minimise vulnerabilities and disaster risks throughout society.

Earlier disaster risk management was often used in same context which is systematic approach to identifying assessing and reducing risks of all kinds. Since 1970 the disaster related thinking and practices have been seen wider and deeper to understand the reasons of occurring disasters with reference to integrated holistic approach to reduce the impact of disaster on society.

World over countries were taking measures in accordance with Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015, which ended in March last and has been replaced with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015- 2030). The Sendai document has been developed after three years of consultation process with United Nation members’ states, non-governmental organizations and concerned stakeholders to have improved version of the existing Hyogo Framework with sets of common standards, achievable targets and a legally based documents for disaster risk reduction. The member states also focused on the disaster risk reduction and climate change adaption for achieving sustainable development goals.

Pakistan is also signatory to the global progress in achieving the goal of the Sendai Framework. All member countries including Pakistan are agreed upon the set targets which include 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 organized steps in the field of emergency preparedness with effective monitoring system like emergency service Rescue 1122, as all the calls are 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 district and province levels ensures the average response time of 7 to 10 minutes in all emergencies resulting minimising death and disabilities by providing swift response to helpless victims of all emergencies.

Emergency preparedness does not stop here, besides having an effective emergency management system at government level, communities should have integrated system with collaboration of the existing emergency services or social welfare departments and non-governmental organizations for disaster risk reduction and organized efforts in this area. The disaster risk reduction requires collective approach, inter-organisational coordination, partnership with all concerned stakeholders and community based disaster risk management.

Local communities are the main actors of the disaster response and disaster risk reduction. It has been observed that disaster-prone communities are enriched with their experiences and elder people along with vulnerable groups. They all can be included in the planning for disaster risk reduction at local level. The disaster preparedness can be improved by capacitating the vulnerable community according to their need and making them able to respond to local problems with their local knowledge and expertise as it is the cost-effective way of disaster risk reduction which improves the likelihood of sustainability through genuine ‘ownership’ of projects by local community.

Furthermore all those people who are working for awareness, advocacy, capacity building and disaster resilience at any level deserve appreciation on International Day Related Disaster Risk reduction. I felt proud to know the community views about the disaster response by the research study on Governance and Disaster in Pakistan conducted by Pattan and Asia Foundation Pakistan that says “the response after 2005 earthquake has been improved and Rescue 1122 Emergency Service is doing commendable job in disaster response.

All concerned communities and stakeholders should realise their importance and contribute for developing safer communities in Pakistan. May Allah keep our country safe from all disasters and make us a real contributor as civilised citizen of the Pakistan.

—The writer Deeba Shahnaz Akhter is emergency officer of Rescue 1122.