Adnan Falak Sher On July 26, 2011, Qxfam released a report titled Ready or Not, Pakistans resilience to disaster one year on from the floods. It warned that with the beginning of a monsoon period, country may face another flood disaster for which it is ill prepared. Such warnings were ignored by our government at the cost of hundreds of lives, destruction of 1.5 million homes, inundation of 0.88 million hectares of crops and reduction of countrys GDP growth rate by 0.5 percent. In order to protect ourselves from next big flood we need to adopt a comprehensive flood management programme that includes both structural and non-structural measures encompassing micro-dams, flood warning system, floodplain management, contingency planning and poverty reduction efforts. Across the globe there is an increase in incidents of hazardous floods. Apart from Pakistan, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, China, Myanmar, USA, Germany, Australia and Brazil witnessed destructive floods. According to the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disaster, flooding in 2010 affected 178 million people and amongst all natural disasters the occurrence of floods is the most frequent. A similar conclusion has been drawn by World Bank, according to which the impact of flood events will continue and possibly accelerate in the next 50 years because of climate change and global trend in urbanization. In the face of these challenges, we need to update our existing flood management plan and make it more flexible and effective. First, we need to undertake a comprehensive flood-risk mapping of the most vulnerable districts of Pakistan. A journey along any river will show that our floodplains and river basins are peppered with settlements. Such settlements need to be relocated whereas agricultural practices in those areas should be discouraged. USA, UK, China, Germany and many other countries stringently regulate floodplain encroachment. In the areas that cannot be vacated, flood resistant housing designs may be introduced. Along Russian River in California buildings are constructed on stilts. In Bihar, India houses and sometimes entire villages are built on small mounds designed to withstand flood water. In Japan, International Stadium of Yokohama and adjoining roads have been constructed on piles in Tsurimu river basin. The stadium remains operational even during floods. Dams, dykes and embankments act as an important line of defence against floods. Dams are also useful for water storage later to be used for electricity generation and irrigation. Instead of quibbling on the need of large dams such as Basha or Kalabagh we may concentrate on building micro-darns. Nicaragua is a small Central American country with nearly six million population. It is frequently menaced by flooding. To contain this threat, a network of 16 micro-dams has been constructed on a single river network. Efforts should be made to sustain our riverine systems ability to absorb excessive water. It can be achieved by de-silting water channels, planting secondary vegetation in place of extensive deforestation and restoring wetlands. Here the Chinese model is worth consideration. After the 1998 flood in the Yangtze basin, the Chinese government passed flood control act which included restoration of 20,000 sq km of wetlands and floodplains in Central China. Flood forecasting and early warning system is indispensable for an effective flood management programme. If the Government of Pakistan cannot implement it, then a community based initiative may be encouraged. Indias River Basin Friends is a good example. It is a network of 300 private organizations and 1,000 people spread over Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna basin. It spreads flood warnings through emails and phones and has been quite successful. One way to reduce populations vulnerability to flood impact is by improving economic capacity of the deprived classes. In the words of Oxfam, the GOP should urgently coordinates a pro-poor reconstruction and development plan that includes reforms necessary to address underlying vulnerabilities of the poor people. For disaster management, the roles and responsibilities of government authorities at all levels should be clearly defined. There must be a proper coordination between NDMA, army, government institutions and international aid agencies. One to two percent of funds allocated in the national budget for developmental purposes may be used for preparedness and response. International donors may make sure that a portion of humanitarian and developmental aid is spent on disaster risk reduction. Some people exaggerate the effectiveness of dams and dykes. Floods in Australia early this year and New Orleans, USA, in 2005 demonstrate the futility of just relying on structural measures to control floods. We need a combination of hard and soft measures focusing on flood hazard reduction, exposure limitation and resilience enhancement. Only by doing so we may successfully deal with next big flood. The author is a freelance writer and has worked as a broadcast journalist.