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Disaster Management

Forming A Sustainable Disaster Management Policy in Pakistan

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The best Disaster Management practices lead to lasting solutions to natural calamities and create resilience among the communities. Unfortunately, In Pakistan, poor planning, inactiveness of the Institutions and poorly trained Disaster Management officials make the manageable Circumstances into Unmanageable one due to incompetence.

Pakistan has experienced various huge  disasters in the history  -be  it Earth Quake of  8th October 2005 , that hit the major parts of  Azad Kashmir  and  the capital of the country  ,killing 100s  of  people  and  hundreds of  people  were injured  , Hundreds of people  became  homeless since their  Houses turned into debris  by the  massive  earth  Quake  . This was the big ask for the Fragile Disaster Management Practices since there was no any institute or body to mitigate such High-level destruction.

These Grave Circumstances prompted the Government to establish the Earth Quake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA).  The ERRA contained professionals mainly from Pakistan Army since Our nation always looks toward the army in times of  Disasters as our brave soldiers rush to rescue, relief, and rehabilitate the communities.

The army Officers possess the high level of experience in disaster management and are always ready to help the Government in extenuating disasters. ERRA has done the marvellous job in rebuilding the demolished houses, roads and other structures. They also introduced various disaster Resistant technologies after researching the conditions for shelters and infrastructure.

The Super floods of 2010 also spread widespread destruction of crops, houses, industries and loss of hundreds of people. The Super  Floods affected various Parts of Punjab such as (Muzaffargarh, Raheem Yar Khan, Rajanpur), Parts of  Baluchistan and Major parts of  Sindh  Including  18 Districts of Sindh which were directly hit by the Floods. The District Kashmore was severely hit as the Tori Embankment is situated in the District. The Super Floods were caused due to overtopping of Indus river caused breach in the weak Tori dyke.

The River Indus inundated hundreds of Acres of Agricultural Land. People Stranded in the various places as the Breach occurred in the late Night when people were asleep and they were not aware of such breaking of the Dyke. The Super Floods were caused by the Heavy Rains in KP, Punjab that caused Flash Floods that engulfed entire Pakistan.

Pakistan Metrological Department had issued Flood warnings to the people given the heavy rains recorded above 7.9 inches. The Rainwater destroyed roads, bridges, Communication, Electric Supply and uprooted Trees.

The Repercussions were very intense owing to being Hilly area and the water was flowing like the bullet inflicted collateral damage to properties. The rains also hit the Parts of Sindh, Punjab and Baluchistan bringing misery in the areas.

The UN  Secretary General Ban Kay Moon termed the Flooding as the biggest  Disaster he had ever seen and submitted his appeal for relief and  Rehabilitation to the  UN member Countries as the damage was too big for Pakistan to mitigate.

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That was the time when disaster Management services were felt. The Govt of Pakistan thought over the establishment of  Disaster Management Authority to help Government Make the Contingency plans to fight existing and  Future Disasters.

The  Rain Floods of 2011, The frequent Rain floods in Baluchistan due to monsoon rains, Earth Quake of  Awaran Baluchistan 2013 warrant to have  Proper  Disaster Management Policy to alleviate  Natural Calamities in a proper way.  There is a need of establishing Disaster Risk Management fund at Provincial Level and District level to help provide relief to the affectees on time. Though, it has been established at National Level with the assistance of  Asian Development Bank.

The National Disaster Management Authority was established after provision of National Disaster Act 2010 by the Parliament to mitigate the Disasters and making contingency plans for catastrophes with the approval of NDMC (National Management Council) headed by PM.

The NDMA is headed by the chairman mostly from the army. It would be more effective if the chairman should be from the Development sector as they have great Training in Disaster Management and Other  Field Level Activities. The development sector organizations express their reservations to interact with military leadership.   The  NDMA act must create room for a civilian chairman who can steer the goals of Apex  Disaster Management Authority.  The NDMA  may be given the Financial Freedom to carry out rescue, relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation initiatives on its own and the Government should play the role of the Monitor or supervisor.

The Establishment of NDMA is not sufficient but giving it financial freedom and proper Human resource is very necessary. NDMA must hold various Seminars at Federal Level to create awareness amongst the people and encourage them to strengthen their resilience in case of Natural Disasters especially those people who are frequently hit by natural disasters or prone to natural disasters such as the areas of KPK, Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan. Especially, Thar Desert of Sindh where drought, famine and Epidemics have engulfed the poor Tharies and so far, both the Federal and Provincial Governments have failed to assess the level of damage and mitigate such high level of Natural Calamity.

The Provincial Disaster Management Authorities of the provinces have no coordination among them in times of Disasters including NDMA that has created a great vacuum for intervention in the affected areas for both Government and Development partners.

The Development partners have the greater role as they had shown in the earthquake of 2005, Super Floods of 2010, Rain Floods of 2011 and Earth Quake of  2013 resulting (80% of destruction in Awaran District ) of Baluchistan.

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Instead of shedding tears and clamouring for  The Help from International community, we need to develop a viable disaster Management Policy and  Disaster Risk Reduction Policy so that that the damages may be minimised at a massive level.

There is a strong need of Restructuring Disaster Management Services at District Level. The District Disaster Management Authority is headed by District Council Chairman and Its Members include DCs/DCOs, SSP, District Head of Health Department.  It is missing the key departments in case of flooding or rain emergency such as Irrigation, Agriculture, Works and Services Department, District Food Controllers, Social Welfare Department, Population Welfare and Information department.

The Deputy Director /Manager of grade 17/18 officer from the  Civil Services, PMS or Other departments may be appointed on deputation or Permanent basis to head DDMA and carry out its work smoothly since DCs /DCOs are career Civil servants and they get overburdened in times of Disasters. The Proper DDMA chief will make detailed Contingency Plans for Rain or Flood Emergency plans and appraise the District and Provincial Governments to take necessary arrangements ahead of such happenings.

The DDMA must include INGOs/NGOs, CBOs, Philanthropists, Educators and others so that an effective Plan may be chalked out.

There is also need of establishing Taluka Disaster Management Committees, UC Disaster Management    Committees and Cluster Village Committees with the inclusion of Local Government representatives and Village Heads so that Disaster Management network may be strengthened.

The establishment of Provincial Disaster Management Institutes (PDMI)  in Every Provincial Head Quarter is imperative in order to impart disaster Management training to the Public Sector, Private Sector People of the respective province. The civil servants must have compulsory training in disaster management.

The NDMI (National Disaster Management Institute) is doing a great job in imparting Training to the Government officers, Private Sector and Development partners. It was also a welcome initiative to establish a National Disaster Risk Management Fund with Assistance from Asian Development.

It is imperative to devolve it at Provincial Level and District level so that the interventions in the disaster-affected areas may be initiated on time. It is accepted truth that disasters bring misery to the hustling-bustling cities and convert them into debris but with the proper disaster management policy, we may be able to mitigate the effects, create resilience and rehabilitate the affectees in a proper way.

The current PTI Government is well aware of the importance of Disaster Management and they need to frame the sustainable Disaster Management Policy in consultation with Policy Think tanks such as SDPI, IPS.SPDC, PILER and NDMI so that future disasters can be prevented and professionally mitigated.

 

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Biodiversity

Fighting climate change through education in Balochistan

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A largely arid region of Pakistan, the province faces special challenges, and tackling them should start with the young

Rameez Kareem called Sabir, his elder brother, to discuss the impact of climate change when their father purchased land for farming. It was not a call to inquire after the health of Sabir, who was studying law in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province. Rameez was seeking advice on how to plant trees in a part of Balochistan where rainfall is erratic or scarce.

Rameez Kareem lives in Turbat, Kech district, which recorded a temperature of 53.5 degrees Celsius in 2017. In 2018, a group of young students started a “Let’s Green Turbat” campaign to educate people about the effects of climate change. They visited many schools to disseminate awareness on climate change. Rameez Kareem’s school was where he received understanding of the value of planting trees.

A man plants a tree in his farmland in Turbat, one of the hottest cities in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. Photo: Ayaz Khan

The Education Department of Balochistan has incorporated chapters in some science and social studies subjects to sensitize students to the effects of climate change in the province. However, climate-change education is yet to be proposed as a separate subject.

“It’s essential to make climate-change education part of curricula. My younger brother Rameez Kareem, who studies in Grade 6 in Turbat, has attained climate-change education from chapters included in books and he practiced it when we planted many trees in our new farmland,” Sabir said. 

“To include chapters on climate change in the curriculum is a good initiative. I believe, like tasks associated with science subjects, climate-change education must have practical activities too. Students must plant trees inside schools as well as have to visit fields to gain education and knowledge about agriculture,” Sabir added.

Balochistan has the lowest tree coverage in Pakistan, at 1.4% of total land area. Balochistan also benefits little from monsoons.

A research paper titled “Drought Trends in Balochistan” shows that the province is vulnerable to climate change. In terms of prolonged droughts, the province is the most affected in the country.

According to the paper, Bharkan, an arid region of the province, faced a drought lasting 22 months from 1999 to 2001. The province is also prone to low-level flash flooding. A recent record-breaking rainfall (104 millimeters) in Gwadar caused flooding in that port city.

Need for climate change education

Following the footprints of the Philippine government, the Pakistani Ministry of Climate Change began a plan to involve students in tree-planting activities. Under the strategy, students were required to plant trees and in return earn extra marks during examinations.

“It was a necessary step to educate students through activities. But the policy couldn’t last long given the dearth of interest,” Sabir said with regret.

According to a recent study, children born in 2020 could face seven times as many climate disasters than those born in 1960. The study reaffirms the belief that climate-change education is the need of the hour.

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Another study reveals a strong relationship between climate action and a course taught to university students. After taking the course, a majority of graduates reported pro-environment decisions. Their decisions reduced their individual use of carbon by 2.68 tons per year.

In addition, a study further reveals that if only 16% of high-school students in high- and middle-income countries were to receive climate-change education, there could be a nearly 19-gigaton reduction of carbon-dioxide emissions by 2050.

At the Conference of Parties (COP26) in Scotland late last year, a discussion on climate-change education also resonated. Education and climate ministers from various countries, including Siri Lanka, pledged to make climate education a priority.

Prior to COP26, through the Berlin Declaration on Education for Sustainable Development convened online in 2021, participant governments agreed that education could be a powerful means of shaping a worldview on climate change. In contrast to this, a report released by UNESCO, based on the data obtained from 100 countries, found that only 53% of the world’s curricula refer to climate change.

Pakistan is one of the signatories of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which urges members to undertake climate-change education and ensure public participation in such programs. In addition, Pakistan pledged to tackle climate effects through education in its National Climate Change Policy of 2012. 

With implementation of the Single National Curriculum, debate on whether to include climate-change education in the SNC started. Last May, the Climate Change Ministry introduced such education as a subject in the SNC.

Balochistan, after Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), is the third province to adopt the SNC.

“Balochistan has adopted SNC and whatever is included in it, we will implement,” said Saeed Ahmed Khan, director of the Balochistan Bureau of Curriculum and Extension. “We have adopted [the]first phase of SNC and it includes environment-related education from [Grades 1 to 5].

“Apart from this, despite making it [climate change] a new subject, we have chapters on environment in both English and Urdu. To add climate-change education, we can incorporate researched articles in scientific subjects. Introducing climate change as a separate subject will take time and effort.”

It might be easier, according to Ahmed, to introduce climate-change subjects in universities than in colleges. Hiring staff and introducing a new subject at college level needs much effort and time.

Implementing climate change education

Saadia Khalid, head of the Lahore-based campaign “Climate Warriors,” believes that a climate-change curriculum should be a “hidden” one.

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“My agenda is simple. Don’t buy bottled water. I carry my own. I walk and do not use a vehicle if the distance is coverable by walking. These steps are simple and we must train a teacher to teach these things to schools. Children understand things better.”

Asfand Bakht Yar is an environment educationist who administers workshop programs in schools initiated by An Taisce – the National Trust for Ireland. Bakht believes that it’s important to impart climate education to children in schools given the fact that schools can give formal education. The information is accurate and designed according to the age of children.

“I designed a program and proposed it to the Ministry of Climate Change. But I have been waiting for the feedback. After learning the basic concepts, children can play their role and become part of the solution,” Bakht said. 

The way forward

In 2018, an awareness campaign in KPK province had promising results. The campaign centered on educating school students about conservation of biodiversity.

Similarly, an effective method, according to Bakht, is to engage students in activities that lead to awareness and are also fun. Bakht urges that there ought to be workshop programs specifically designed for junior, senior, and post-primary-school education, respectively.

“Workshops must contain fun activities on concepts like climate change, recycling, water conservation, air quality and energy,” he explained. For Bakht, the EU Green School Model is workable in Pakistan. “The model might need some changes in environmental and climate curriculum on our part but will run parallel to the existing education system in Pakistan.”

Tahir Rasheed, director and regional head WWF Sindh and Balochistan, said: “Balochistan is a very diverse region. Of nine to 10 ecological zones, six lie in Balochistan. It’s a hyper-arid region and climate effects are high here.”

He added: “We need to educate and create awareness in multiple fields. We need to create awareness about protected areas, about repercussions of CPEC-related projects which might exacerbate the climate effects, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF), which is a serious threat to marine ecology.”

According to Rasheed, Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan, during the last 50 years has confronted droughts and below-normal precipitation that have affected 60-70% of the population directly or indirectly.

Balochistan has a predominantly arid environment and thus sustainable management of natural resources, environmental as well as climate-change-related issues must receive a high priority in the government’s planning and development processes.

“Policymakers and civil society should be environmentally sensitized to take into consideration the climate agenda and ecological processes that sustain life in the province,” Rasheed emphasized.

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Development

INGOS And The Future Of Unemployed Youth in Pakistan

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Pakistan has experienced a mushrooming growth of INGOs and NGOs during the Musharraf era, the Earthquake of 8th October 2008, the super flood of 2010 and the frequent drought in Thar and other desert areas. Many international INGOs helped people in rescue, Relief, Rehabilitation people and reconstruction of damaged houses.

Every INGO came with their own key areas  such as  poverty alleviation , Environment , Peace  , Water and Sanitation ,shelter  , social mobilization and advocacy  ,governance and Democracy , voter education and women representations , Human rights , Child rights  , Old age people  , Alternative Energy such as  Solar , wind and Biogas initiatives , health and education , reproductive health, Honour Killing , religious harmony and other sectors.  So much so that every INGO had own priority to work and even involved local NGOs as implementation partners (IPs). Most of NGOs are funded by Unicef, WHO, European Union ECHO, UK AID, AusAid, USAID, Kingdom of  Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Turkish Government, Bangladesh.

The INGOs benefitted the local youth through employment, vendors and hiring labour for the projects with high wages. I still remember, when I was working with a development organization as Program Manager, I was startled to see youth workers aged between 20 to 30 working in various projects of emergency especially the super floods of 2010. The Average salaries of these youth were equal to grade 16, 17 or even grade 18 government officer thus luring the people to Development sector after shrinking public and private jobs in Pakistan ., They were earning 30 k to 80K per month given their qualification, Skills and experience. The Project Managers, Coordinators, Provincial managers crossed 100K to 300K depending on the INGO and Nature of donor-funding as per approved budget.

A local mason was reported by saying that during 2010  floods he managed to earn 100K in a month by working on shelter projects of an INGO namely Acted. He said prior to flood emergency, he had hardly earned his living and hardly had eaten the two times meals.
He said that INGO contracted him to work on the construction projects and he was under heavy overload that impelled him to hire own workers and even started his own construction company and won contracts.

Another vendor selling paints and sanitary fittings said that working with INGOs, his sales multiplied to extent that he started two warehouses to meet demand.

One of the development workers said that working with the INGOs, He was able to buy his own house in a year as prior to this; he lived in a rented house.

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These were the few examples that became the case studies due to the intervention of these International Development Organizations throughout  Pakistan especially in Baluchistan, KPK and Sindh.

Sindh, KP and Punjab experienced severe damages to roads, properties, infrastructure and livestock during the super floods of 2010. INGOs from major  European and Asian countries pour in Pakistan and started working on flood emergency Projects from Rationing to shelters and tents, Health and hygiene kits, Public Health Promotion, Education and Water tankering.

Several Organizations engaged the people for Cash for Work activities in the villages to rebuild their houses and damaged tracks and roads. This gave great satisfaction to these flood affected segments to earn the respectable living working on their village development Plan. Hundreds of educated and talented youth became part of various INGOs and helped their fellow Pakistanis besides the foreign Aid workers. The relief camps were set up as per the Government plan with help of local district Administration.

The government had to fulfil a  mammoth task to mitigate the disaster as it was beyond the capacity of Government to have dealt with all alone but with the help of development partners, it was fulfilled smoothly and effectively.

It was reported that people continued receiving aid for food, shelter and nutritional items from INGOs including the UN agencies such as UNICEF, UNDP, WHO, UNOCHA, UNHCR, FAO, UN-HABITAT, WFP etc for a year. UNOCHA was drawing and preparing maps for the affected areas and it played a pivotal role in targeting the population that needed relief and located them properly. WFP provided food items for adults as well as nutritional products for the children including chocolate, biscuits and milk for infants and babies.

UNICEF promoted the healthy-learning activities among the children such as games, play way learning techniques and painting competitions for children in relief camps and brought smiles back on their faces to forget the miseries of the flood.

All the INGOs did their best and helped the Federal and provincial governments to mitigate the natural disaster and helped in rebuilding the infrastructure and creating resilience among the people.

Now the question arises that asking INGOs to pack up owing to their suspicious activities may lead to making these youth jobless again since they cannot get such handsome salaries even in government or public sectors.

The initiative may put jobs of hundreds of aid workers and development professionals on stake since they have been working in these development organizations for the last 18 years and have gained tremendous knowledge, experience and developed their skills and have become professionals in their field. Snatching bread from their hand tantamounts to throwing them in muddy quagmire of unemployment as most of them have become overage and are not eligible to apply for any government job thus their opportunities become limited with the looming sword of the ouster of these INGOs and ever-shrinking job market.

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It is recommended that the Government should regulate the activities of INGO either through SECP or Interior Ministry with the help of Ministries of Social welfare and the Ministry of Labour so that the activities of INGOs and their local implementation partners may be monitored to avoid any breach of trust or violation of regulatory framework envisaged by Pakistan.

The Development partners may help government end the faulty contract system that has plagued the development schemes and incurring the loss of billions through the delivery of substandard structures owing to commissioning and percentage system existing in public sector especially the Government Treasuries and Accounts offices.

The rampant corruption committed by the contractors and the Public works departments call for the government to assign public sector schemes to INGOs/NGOs through competitive bidding and shortlisting on the basis of their previous performance. The Development organizations have deep roots in the masses and may prove beneficial in delivering standard outputs as per the demands of the public.

PTI Government should act sensibly and should come up with INGOs/NGOs governance or regulation policy to curb the suspicious activities of any INGO or local NGO and save thousands of Development professionals specially the Youth from falling prey to the monster of unemployment  as government seems to have no alternate option to engage these professionals elsewhere given  their knowledge in emergency nature projects . Their career will be at stake if the INGOs are forced to close their operations in Pakistan.

Pakistan frequently faces emergencies and natural disasters in terms of food scarcity, drought, malnutrition, stunting and famine in Thar desert of Sindh as well as in the desert areas of Punjab and Baluchistan while these international development organizations may steer the country out of such crises and disasters if their services are availed and valued in the purview of job creation and disaster mitigation instead of forcing them to pack up and leave .

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