The federal government in a progressive move has recommended the fourth 10-year National Flood Protection Plan (NFPP) worth Rs177.66 billion to the Council of Common Interests (CCI). The Plan will span over 2015-16 to 2024-25 and aims at integrated flood management by focusing on non-structural measures such as reservoir operations, flood forecasting and early warning, flood risk zoning, watershed management, flood proofing and insurance, disaster management and other measures. It is high time that the focus shifts away from hard structures as a solution to flood risk as it is evident from the decade long interprovincial conflict over Kalabagh, that building dams is a far reaching dream for now.

Floods have been the most devastating natural disaster to affect Pakistan in the last 60 years. The commitment to this substantial amount for the NFFP is justified as the financial damages that are caused in the aftermath of flooding outweigh this amount that is being set aside for flood prevention and preparedness. In the face of the devastating effects of global warming and the increasing frequency and intensity of flooding in Pakistan makes it imperative that watershed management be understood and implemented to protect from the country from flood risk.

Managing watersheds and flood risk reduction cannot be carried out without the involvement of the communities that live in it. Landowners, stormwater management experts, water use surveyors and local communities must all work together to address issues of water supply, water quality, drainage, stormwater runoff, and the overall planning and utilisation of watersheds. The concept is to redevelop the urban areas and conserve the integrity of the watershed by applying better agricultural practices and water use. A holistic approach like this improves all natural and manmade systems for a life long impact. Improving structures, redesigning urban spaces and improving drainage will address flood risk for generations to come.