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HYDERABAD: Experts at a workshop on Wednesday stressed the need for a comprehensive plan to achieve the goals of disaster risk management, saying that the province of Sindh needs a holistic and all-inclusive approach with a focus on self-reliance to developing its indigenous capacities for coping with the upcoming hazardous natural disasters of biblical magnitude.

They underlined that there were many experts on the subject of climate change and disaster management working under various think tanks who should be given an opportunity to guide policy makers for informed decision making and innovative solutions to address the issue.

This they said while addressing the workshop titled “Hazard Risk and Impact Analysis: A Research Study on Flash Floods in Dadu District for Installation of Early Warning System as a Step Towards Preparedness”, which was held by the University of Sindh in collaboration with the Fast Rural Development Program (FRDP) and Welthungerhilfe (WHH) in the Nelson Mandela Hall, Department of International Relations, University of Sindh Jamshoro.

The event was funded by the European Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (DG-ECHO) working at District Dadu.

Addressing the workshop, Pro-Vice Chancellor Sindh University campus Thatta Professor Dr. Rafique Ahmed Memon said that Sindh had faced natural hazards that escalated into humanitarian disasters over the past many years whereas the massive torrential rain flood of 2022 resulting crisis had caused massive damage to life, property, and jeopardized food security of thousands of people.

He said the workshop was aimed at creating awareness among the masses on climate change, natural hazards, water crisis and other pressing issues pertaining to Sindh. “Climate change has become an existential threat to Sindh,” he said. “I believe that we should be preparing ourselves on our own feet, to increase disaster resilience and preparedness. Funds for disaster relief and assistance should be spent on technical capacity build up for disaster management and risk reduction,” said Dr. Memon.

President Disaster Risk Reduction Centre (DRRC) Professor Dr. Mukhtiar Ahmed Mahar said that Sindh faced geophysical threats that were more pronounced having immediate impact whereas the floods and climate change were slow moving disasters and were not quick to attract attention besides hydro-meteorological hazards.

“Rains and flash floods of 2022 were second very unprecedented flood situation after that of 2010”, he said and added that the key question was of governmental machineries’ preparedness to ensure risk mitigation and management.

He mentioned that the 2022 massive floods were the combination of different flooding patterns like that of 2010, 2011 and others. It left over two million houses damaged and massive destruction all over the country including Sindh. He suggested that there was a need to strengthen coordination at the national level whereas the district level coordination was a must that catered to the local communities and was the weakest link.

Sharing statistics of the entire country, he said that as many as 82,802 people had lost their lives; the largest number of deaths in the region, as a result of different disasters in Pakistan from 2005 to 2022 while 49,784,339 people were affected during the same period.

“Disaster management systems at federal and provincial levels have failed in preventing or minimizing disaster losses due to overlapping of the roles and responsibilities and low priority and low budget for disaster management in Pakistan,” Dr. Mahar said.

Dean faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Sindh Professor Dr. Hamadullah Kakepoto said that the upcoming disasters will increase in intensity, therefore the government and civil society should come up with strong disaster management efforts.

“The relief response in the 2022 floods was government supported as relief items had been managed through the public resources including the supplies from nine strategic warehouses of NDMA that can provide three hundred thousand people. Out of which all have been emptied and would be replenished,” he said. He further said that the mainstream media had also given less coverage to floods due to the ongoing political situation. However, an unprepared community resulted in massive losses of all kinds during floods whereas extreme climate disasters with poor preparedness would result in a massive humanitarian crisis, he added.

Dr. Aijaz Wassan said that Pakistan had achieved partial success in achieving sustainable development goals but there was still a lot to be done for its true implementation. “The problem is economic disparity; either people have too much money or are unable to make ends meet,” he said.

He said that when a disaster hits pregnant women suffer the most, adding that this was because proper treatment and facilities didn’t get to rural areas whenever disaster hits, which made the situation even worse. Reproductive rights were linked to everyone in the community, not just a particular section,” he said.

He said that Sindh was seriously vulnerable to various kinds of disasters, adding that the world was facing humanitarian needs on a massive scale in 2022; when Pakistan’s affected people were in need of humanitarian aid. “In entire country during the 2022 disaster, 60 million people were forced away from their homes. 250 million people in 37 countries were affected by conflicts and natural disasters,” he said.

Dr. Faisal Hyder Shah said that Pakistan needed to strengthen local government so as to effectively ameliorate disaster risks.

He further said that disaster risk reduction must be linked with issues of women empowerment. “Disaster risk reduction and relief efforts should be considered key human rights,” he said. He also highlighted the significance of involving youth in disaster risk reduction and response efforts.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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Majid Hussain May 30, 2024 09:09pm
Great and sincere efforts of FRDP-WHH, ECHO and Sindh University. Working on Anticipatory Actions and Institutional Capacity Building in Districts Dadu & Mirpurkhas of Sindh Province of Pakistan.
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