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.
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.
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.
INGOS And The Future Of Unemployed Youth in Pakistan
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.
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.
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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