Flood-risk management: SAARC countries to formulate plan
The SAARC member countries have decided to formulate a roadmap for flood risk management that would be presented in the next SAARC summit for approval. The decision was taken in a workshop titled ‘SAARC Workshop on Flood Risk Management in South Asia’ organised by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in collaboration with Disaster Management Cells of SAARC member states.
Rana Muhammad Farooq Saeed Khan, Federal Minsiter for Climate Change, Mehmood Alam, Secretary Ministry of Climate Change, Dr Zafar Iqbal Qadri, Dr O.P Mishra, Head of SAARC Disaster Management Cell India were among the participants of the workshop. The Federal Minister said that the NDMA has already prepared a flood emergency plan in close co-ordination with all the district and provincial disaster management authorities across the country while work is in process for the establishment of Disaster Response Force and Disaster Risk Insurance Policy.
“Pakistan has been facing heavy monsoon season for the last three years. In 2010, about 20 million people were affected by heavy flood water, 9 million were affected in 2011 flood and 4.7 million people suffered from the worst flashfloods in 2012”, the Federal Minister lamented.
Before the start of the monsoon, the PDMAs were warned by the MET Office and the NDMA that they have to make essential arrangements to avoid maximum risk during the natural calamity, the Minister said. Recent floods have damaged some areas of Upper Sindh including Kashmor, Jacobabad, in Balochistan almost 95 percent area of Punjab 80,-90 percent area of Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur.
“Global warming is making the developing countries pay a heavy price as with limited financial resources they can hardly manage to avoid the maximum loss caused by the natural calamities”, the Minister said. Dr Zafar said that the Himalaya region has become the most disaster prone region of Pakistan. “In order to avoid maximum loss from these natural calamities, the need is to prepare a plan by SAARC member states collectively”
The Chairman said that due to lack of sufficient financial resources, it becomes really difficult for a developing country like Pakistan to make all the essential arrangements to avoid the loss of human lives, infrastructure and agricultural productivity in areas damaged by flood water.
Occurrence of floods is increasing both in frequency and magnitude over the years. “Floods are particularly affecting the developing countries because of less focus on disaster risk reduction, preparedness, capacity to adapt, lack of resources and technological development. It is the need of the time to have quick action on risk mitigation that would not only prevent the loss of human lives but also save economic resources,” the Chairman added.
Mahmood Aalam said that Pakistan has been experiencing multi types of disasters like the earthquake and floods since long as global warming followed by the unprecedented glaciers’ melting is exerting a deep impact on the overall temperature of the country.
O.P Mishra said that every year floods claim thousands of lives in addition to leaving millions homeless and inflicting considerable loss to property and infrastructure. South Asia has a long history of floods and for many of the countries in South Asia, combating floods is an annual feature. Floods in South Asia are mainly driven by the unique hydro meteorological and monsoonal influences in the region.
Recent studies also show that the effects of the rising sea level are also making communities in the densely populated coastline of the South Asian countries highly vulnerable to coastal floods. On the other hand melting of glaciers in the Himalayan-Hindukush region, owing to the visible climate change impact, may give rise to increase in flashfloods in the mountainous regions and those places located at the foothills, Mishra said.
According to the recently published 2011 World Risk Report, countries like Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan exhibit a high level of vulnerability as demonstrated by their lack of coping capacities and adaptive capacities. In evaluating 173 countries for the purposes of creating this year’s World Risk Index, the report gave the following countries in its global risk index ranking: Bangladesh at (6), Pakistan (66), India (71) and Nepal (99).