Islamabad - The Governments of Japan and Pakistan have agreed to implement two projects worth 3.64 billion JPY (approximately $36 million or Rs 3.2 billion) for disaster management through improving the capacity of sewerage and drainage services and the weather forecasting system in Pakistan.

Bilateral agreements were signed on Thursday in Islamabad for “the Project for Upgrading of Mechanical System for Sewerage and Drainage Services in Gujranwala” and “the Project for Establishment of Specialised Medium Range Weather Forecasting Center and Strengthening of Weather Forecasting System” between Hiroshi Inomata, Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan, and Saleem Sethi, Secretary, Economic Affairs Division (EAD). On the same occasion, agreements on the details of implementation of these projects were also signed between Mitsuyoshi Kawasaki, Chief Representative of JICA and Ms Shaista Sohail, Joint Secretary of EAD.

Under “The Project for Upgrading of Mechanical System for Sewerage and Drainage Services in Gujranwala”, disposal pumps as well as cleaning/de-silting equipment will be provided to upgrade the existing sewerage and drainage capacity in Gujranwala City. It will also serve to enhance the number of connections to the sewerage and drainage system, and consequently to increase the sewerage coverage rate. This will ultimately help in improved sanitation and reduced risk of inundation caused by heavy rains.  Under “The Project for Establishment of Specialised Medium Range Weather Forecasting Center and Strengthening of Weather Forecasting System”, the existing meteorological radar in Islamabad will be replaced, an upper-air observation system and a meteorological data communication system will be installed, and a Specialised Medium Range Weather Forecasting Center will be established. It will enable the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) to improve the accuracy of weather forecasts and to disseminate these forecasts and warnings speedily.

It is to be noted that this is the first priority of the National Multi Hazard Early Warning System Plan for the whole county, which is a part of the National Disaster Management Plan approved in February 2013 by the National Disaster Management Commission chaired by the Prime Minister of Pakistan together.

Referring to the repetitive floods Pakistan has faced in recent years, Hiroshi Inomata noted that natural disasters have become one of the major obstacles for economic development in this country. He stated that Japan gives high priority to disaster management in its development assistance for Pakistan. “Both Japan and Pakistan are disaster-prone countries,” he said. “We will continue to work together to make Pakistan a disaster resilient country by making good use of experience and expertise Japan has gained from disasters in the past.”

 He also added that the Government of Japan had committed in November 2013 that it would provide 1.6 trillion Yen (approximately $16 billion or Rs.1.4 trillion) of public and private finance to developing countries over the three years from 2013 to 2015 to support their response to climate change. The projects agreed on Thursday form a part of this commitment.

According to Mitsuyoshi Kawasaki, Chief Representative of JICA Pakistan Office, the two projects will improve various capacity of disaster management such as detectable range of weather information, drainage capacity and accuracy of weather forecasting. He emphasised that these projects are under the National Disaster Management Plan formulated by the Government of Pakistan with JICA’s support. Japan has been consistently assisting disaster management through JICA since the 1980s and is willing to enhance it further through the support for implementation of the National Disaster Management Plan. He paid his respect to PMD for well maintaining the weather radar in Islamabad which is one of the four radars installed under Japan’s support in the past, and requested PMD to continuously maintain the newly installed equipment.