Probability of natural disasters in 2012 has been higher. Previous ten to twelve months have already proved it right. Floods in California and India, avalanches in sischen glacier in Pakistan, wild fires in southern France, Hurricane in Florida and cyclones in china have played havoc across the globe. Focusing on monsoon in Pakistan during 2012, the metrological department made the prediction of 15% more rains during 2012 monsoons. However, this prediction did not sustain for long and things went unpredictable. As July went over, it was notified that 40% less rains have caused droughts in many areas and water shortages can lead to huge agricultural losses. But in later half of august and September, a new session of rain started affecting various parts of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, north east Balochistan, southern Punjab and Sindh as well. Apart from the loss of life huge losses of infrastructure and agricultural land have been recorded as we well. It was unprecedented and uncommon to have such intense rains in this season.
Blame of such unseen patterns of rainfall can be rightly put on climatic variations triggered by global warming. Serious concern is that being a developing nation are we so equipped to beat the climatic variation and minimize our losses? It is enough to say yes. What Pakistan has faced in 2010 was enough to wake up the government machinery to respond to such conditions
To tackle with such multi dimensional issue our government machinery must be more active because actually the issue (climate change) involves varied political interests of different stakeholders on global scale. The complex relationships between different scales make it difficult to coherently promote sustainable management of floods.Insuficient disaster preparedness and risk management practices is the result of political choices and processes and can not be addressed without making significant and durable changes in the distribution of power in the society.
But unfortunately, the usual sluggishness is persistent and the end result is a catastrophes.
Measures taken to counter floods
In recent times, since NDMA and PDMAs have been operational it has become a practice that at district level contingency plan is prepared to counter floods. In this plan, “pre-flood, during flood and post flood “measures to be taken are explained and deliberated upon. Establishment of disaster control room that operates round the clock to facilitate the communication flow regarding floods. It is to ensure early warning. In pre- flood activities it is mentioned that before flood de-silting and cleaning of all the drains will be carried out by TMAs .Encroachments identified by the irrigation department in water channels will be removed. This process is completed well before monsoon focal persons are nominated and responsibilities are fixed. During flood most important thing is to carry out evacuation of flood-ridden masses, to determine how and where to establish camps for them, how to operate those camps, furthermore, how to coordinate with civil society, army, donors NGOs media etc when needed.Moerover managing medical facilities, dewatering and decleaning of the affected areas is of vital importance. In post-flood activities, estimates of damages are made. Repair work is carried out. Furthermore, compensation is given after all estimates are made. This is a rough sketch of contingency plan that is supposed to be executed in case of flood emergency in a district. Now important thing is that when there is such an elaborated plan existing on ground where things go wrong.
Loopholes in existing mechanism
First and the most important thing is that weather forecast given by the metrological department has not been reliable. That is due to lack of technology; but, recently drastic changes in climate have been really hard to predict and rely upon. moreover it is a perception among general public that 2010 flood were not natural rather they have been an engineered that therefore, general public does not take flood warning seriously, there has been weak culture of disaster preparedness ,rather major focus is on disaster management. For instance anti encroachment campaign begins just a month before monsoon normally. That makes it impossible to achieve desirable results. On august 22 three men died and many houses got damaged in a flash flood in Azakhel paeen Nowshehra .those were also stationed in the river bed. There are seven watercourses running trough Nowshehra that enter river Kabul at different points. All are obstructed by silt and encroachment stop whenever there are heavy showers upstream; there is a flashflood that causes damaged of lives and property. Similarly human resource is not channelised well before time and available stock of required equipment is not calculated and mentioned. Resultantly, when disaster occurs there are mammoth problems.
Thirdly, there is been weak coordination among various agencies. Administration does not know where the army is operating and NGOs don’t know where they need to work. There is a very scarring example that in 2010 when Tarbela dam got filled, the only officials were almost ready to release the water back stream towards Nowshehra that must have drowned areas of khairabad and surroundings. But probably administration was not on board for that decision .similarly, hundreds of NGOs, national and international came during 2010 but, till to date there has been rehabilitation work going on in many among most deserving remained deprived. That shows weak coordination .furtherly, lack of quick response in post food rescue activities is major problem. At the time there is no cooked food available, some time there is shortage of tents, other day that there is a shortage of medicines and an out break of a disease is expected and innumerable transfermors, bridges communication lines are left damaged.
Fifthly, information, panic, and unrest spread by unauthenticated news cause a lot of trouble and that also lead to politicization of the event and causes more inconvenience for the flood ridden public.
Floods are any sort of natural disasters are beyond human control. Pakistan has been victims of many natural disasters in the recent history. To mention a few 2005 earth quick, 2010 floods, 2012 avalanche and floods are unforgettable. Pakistan being a subtropical country and having monsoonal climate is prone to flood.moerover variation in climate due to global warming cause serious rise and fall in the pattern of rainfalls. Ultimate result is that of loss of life, land, agriculture out put and livestock .owning to the technological and economic constraints problem in Pakistan are bigger than the capability and potentials. Therefore it will be very important for Pakistan to build its capacity in order to fight disasters. Disaster management authorities that have been working in country have been doing their job well, but results are not that productive. Problem in fact lies in the understanding of the concept of disaster their should never be a policy to wait and see until the flood hits the area. Rather we should be ready for any kind of disaster. To benign with irrigation department has to play a very proactive role. It is to identify, mark and ensure that all the river channels, flash floods routs and other passages are clear from encroachment. It should be carried out after monsoon in order to ensure secure next year monsoon. Here is a dire need of desilting of rivers, water channels in order to facilitate the uninterrupted flow of water. More over, there is a need of positive and correct coordination among departments and agencies. So that miscommunication can be stopped. There is need of readily available machinery and equipment to successfully manage any catastrophic situation.
Revenue department must identify all the areas that are encroached upon and must get them evacuated before monsoon season gets. Those areas must be clearly marked. There should be permanent camps which can be utilized during floods as rescue camps. Ample medical stock must be ensure well before monsoon so that in time of need, that can be utilized without unwanted delay. There should be a set code in order to disseminate information regarding flood to the general public. Active involvement of district administration and collaboration with police. Non government organizations and other stakeholders can be very effective. In a nutshell it can be said that disaster management is a full fledged discipline and it need extreme importance it will be highly significant if efforts are made in order to improve disaster preparedness and then react according to the situation. That is the way to control, minimize and restrict the damages that flood can cause.
What should we do?
The government should take care of this problem as soon as possible. Instead of blaming the nature or making silly conspiracy theories, we should work together so that our country becomes stronger and stronger because monsoon rains will occur and nature will not stop unleashing her wrath. It is us that should be prepared. So do you think that floods will occur this year?