Disaster management plans flawed
PESHAWAR: Financial constraints and issues related to flawed implementation of the disaster risk management measures were highlighted by experts as impediments compromising the provincial government’s ability to mitigate future flood-related losses.
The country needed to prepare a natural disaster mitigation strategy side by side the National Disaster Management Authority’s (NDMA) current focus on improving the rehabilitation and early recovery preparedness mechanism at the provincial and district levels, participants at a consultative workshop said here on Monday.
“Our efforts are focused on providing tents during the rehabilitation process and helping the affected communities to reconstruct their destroyed houses, but what is our mitigation strategy?” asked the representative of a western organisation involved in rehabilitation of the flood-affected in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The workshop on “Disaster Risk Management – Needs and Plans”, held jointly by the NDMA and Provincial Disaster Management Authority with the support of UN Disaster Risk Management Joint Programme, discussed the national authority’s monsoon contingency planning process.
It reviewed and prioritised for implementing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the One UN Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Joint Programme’s dozens of activities proposed under its internationally laid out five outcomes, aimed at disaster risk management in the natural disaster-prone areas and communities.
A participant said that the district governments were reluctant to invest in carrying out watershed schemes, refusing on the pretext that the schemes would benefit the downstream areas.
Responding to it, a PDMA representative said that there was a need to invest on developing mega infrastructure in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “The province experienced a devastating flood in 2010 after which mega infrastructure schemes have been proposed for which funds are needed,” the PDMA official said.
He added that financial constraints were always there, but they were trying to deal with the situation in the most economical manner.
Anwar Naeem, a representative of the UN DRM programme, explained, in a presentation, the activities proposed for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in line with the programme’s objective of minimising losses from natural hazards and enhancing coping capacity in high risk communities.
Earlier, Najaf Khan of NDMA, explained the authority’s under-preparation contingency planning process for the upcoming monsoon.
The participants, drawn from the public and private sector entities, pointed out flaws and shortcomings in the disaster risk management mechanism put in place at the district and provincial levels in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
A couple of them pointed out the reconstruction of new structures in place of the ones destroyed in riverine areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, not learning from the devastations of 2010 floods in Swat, Nowshera and Charsadda districts.
Replying to them, Mr Khan said that the government had a clear policy on the issues prohibiting construction of structures in the flood-prone zones along river beds.
He, however, said it was a complex issue when it came to implementing the rules to deal with the lawbreakers.
Shahzad Khan Bangash of PDMA, said that a draft provincial DRM strategy had been shared with the UN agencies and donors.
He said a donors’ workshop would soon be held. The PDMA in collaboration with One UN DRM, he added, had embarked upon a comprehensive plan to incorporate disaster risk reduction (DRR) mainstreaming in all the government projects.
“Sector-specific strategic planning and framework for DRR mainstreaming will be developed,” he added.
The PDMA, he added, was also preparing district DRM plans and all the districts would be included once the pilot district DRM plans were ready. The authority, he added, had started the process of hazard mapping of all the districts up to tehsil level, to fully ascertain the types and intensity of hazards that a particular area was prone to. The information, he said, would be included in the Provincial Disaster Management Plan.