ISLAMABAD             -       Empowering mountain communities with technology, financial resources must for climate-resilience, says SAPM Malik Amin. 

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam, said that lives and livelihoods of mountain communities in Pakistan’s north are grappled with growing risk of flash floods and glacial lake outburst floods due to rapidly melting glaciers. 

However, “protecting the lives and livelihoods of mountain communities, most of them living in abject poverty conditions, is top priority of the present government,” he told participants at the handing-over ceremony of the high-tech modern equipment used for the disaster risk management in the mountain areas. 

The equipment will be deployed at the District Emergency Response Centre (DERC) of the Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority and will be used to help boost disaster resilience and preparedness of the mountain communities in Gilgit-Baltistan. 

Held at Shigar area of Gigit-Baltistan here on Monday, the ceremony was organised by the United Nations Development Programme in collaboration with Ministry of Climate Change, which was attended by representatives from government and non-governmental organisations and local community representatives. 

The DERC equipment was formally handed over to Mr. Wali Khan, Director General, Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority, who said that access to advanced technologies and financial resources provided by the climate change ministry would help mitigate vulnerabilities of the mountain communities. 

Addressing the ceremony, Mr. Wali Khan also thanked the Ministry of Climate Change and UNDP for their timely support for streamlining the communication system of Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority and District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMAs) in any unforeseen situation. Director General Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority mentioned that GB is a backward area, having no connection to far-flung areas.  

“However, with the support of communication equipment, the District Administrations and DDMAs will be better positioned to respond and coordinate,” the Director General, Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority told the participants. Furthermore, he requested the chief guest for further strengthening of Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority and DDMAs through the provision of heavy machineries. 

Mr. Malik Amin Aslam also thanked and lauded all the stakeholders of GB for their keen interest in GLOF-II project interventions focused on resilience and food security. 

The SAPM further mentioned that he has personally visited most of the vulnerable/ project areas and met both direct and indirect beneficiaries, where the project can play its vital role in minimising the risk from Glacial Lake Outburst Floods. 

He further mentioned that the project is spending a total of approximate Rs6.2 billion (with a breakdown of 1.6 to the communities, 3.5 billion for equipment and 1.1 billion for institution capacity building) in Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

This funding shall take place over the span of five years, where 24 valleys will be targeted.

Malik Amin also mentioned that through GLOF-II Project, each vulnerable community will receive the GLOF Disaster Fund of US $50,000 in order to respond to any unforeseen climate change-induced disasters. 

Total 1,000,000 persons of KP and GB will be directly benefiting from the project interventions, out of which, 50 per cent is female population, he added. 

Mr. Malik Amin Aslam remarked, “I am optimistic that the DERC equipment will strengthen the capacities of Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority at district and tehsil level to deal with any disaster situation with full zeal and zest.”  

Later, the attendees to the ceremony further proceeded to view the showcased DERC equipment which included: communication equipment, rescue and response items (boats, backup power supply, IT equipment and communication items). 

The aim of providing this equipment to Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority /Home Department is to strengthen their capacity to deal with any disasters across Gilgit-Baltistan, Malik Amin concluded.