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Disaster readiness deadline to be missed: Oxfam  

 

Daily “DAWN” Oct 9, 2011 

ISLAMABAD, Oct 8: Commitments made by the government after a devastating earthquake struck the country in 2005 that people would be better prepared for disasters in Pakistan would not be fulfilled by the 2015 deadline, international aid agency Oxfam said.

 

The country marked on Saturday the sixth anniversary of the 2005 earthquake that hit Azad Kashmir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad leaving at least 73,000 people dead.

Oxfam said that more needed to be done to implement the Hyogo Framework for Action to ensure that the country was better prepared for disasters. In 2005, 168 governments agreed to adopt a 10-year plan known as the Hyogo Framework for Action, which commits to strengthen people`s resilience to disasters. 

The failure to invest more in disaster prevention in Pakistan means people are less able to cope with the devastating impact of natural disasters such as this year`s floods. 

Oxfam urged the Pakistani government and donors to respond to the dire humanitarian needs now and also invest in disaster prevention measures to ensure that this year`s crisis was not repeated.

The donor response to this year`s floods has been poor and there is a risk of aid agencies running out ofresources in a few weeks unless donors immediately stepped up their efforts. 

Everyone knows how disasters have taken their toll in Pakistan and how they are continuing to put people at the brink of desperation. 

Until we start preparing for these events and having systems in place to cope with them in an effective and proper way, the vicious circle of suffering will continue to affect millions,` said Oxfam`s country director Neva Khan. 

She said there were concrete examples of how lives had been saved through disaster prevention. 

For example, Oxfam after the 2005 quake built retaining walls inareas that were close to a river and when the area was hit by flooding last year, these walls saved over 1,500 people. This also meant that people had time to evacuate with their belongings over a period of three days. 

Also, in 2010 over 200,000 people were evacuated by rescue boats with the help of Oxfam and its partners as floodwaters rose in different parts of the country. 

Oxfam urged the government to ensure early that warning systems were put in place throughout the country and that vulnerable communities got means to prepare themselves for disasters for example, by building houses on raised platforms or constructing barriers to prevent the spread of floodwater. 

The agency said that such measures would save lives and money in the long term. 

Pakistan is highly disaster prone, with two major disasters in the past five years alone, yet major losses are not inevitable. Excellent management policies exist to minimise the impact of disasters, but they are not being implemented on the ground, and during the floods huge gaps became apparent. This is not good enough, and it undermines efforts to help the economy to grow, to minimise food insecurity, and to improve social and political stability,` Ms Khan said.  


Natural disasters Coordination among agencies stressed to mitigate losses 

Daily “DAWN” Oct 9, 2011 

PESHAWAR, Oct 8: Experts at a symposium held in connection with the Oct 8, 2005 earthquake anniversary on Saturday stressed the need for forming linkages and sharing information between the Earthquake Engineering Centre (EEC) and various agencies for planning and disaster management to ensure timely support to the people in the hour of distress.

The symposium on `Resilient Pakistan` was organised at the EEC, University of Engineering and Technology, Peshawar, to bring researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders at a platform for sharing their professional experiences and knowledge for understanding and mitigating the effects of earthquakes. 

Lt-Gen (retired) Shahid Niaz, member Planning Commission of Pakistan, who was the chief guest on the occasion, said that implementation of the relevant policies and provisions such as the building laws should be ensured to mitigate the losses due to earthquakes.UET vice chancellor Imtiaz Hussain Gilani talked about the achievements and future endeavors of the centre. The EEC director Dr Syed Mohammad Ali, Perra DG planning Parvaiz H. Niazi, DG PDMA Shakeel Qadir, National Centre of Excellence in Geology director Dr Asif Khan, UNDP early recovery advisor Anwarul Haq, and GM Nespak Dr Shahzad Rahman spoke about the role of their organisations in the field of earthquake engineering, seismology and disaster management.

Most of the speakers agreed that there was a need for forming linkages and sharing information between the EEC and various organisations. Close cooperation with various national agencies related to planning and disaster management could provide farreaching benefits to make a `Resilient Pakistan` They said that Pakistan had witnessed severe earthquakes in the past and according to the experts of the related fields, the entire region wasprone to large earthquakes. They stressed that lessons needed to be learnt from the past to safeguard the existing infrastructure in case of any future calamity. 

They said that in the aftermath of 2005 earthquake in Pakistan the EEC had provided valuable suggestions to the government and non-government organizations involved in the reconstruction and rehabilitation in the affected areas. 

The participants acknowledged the contributions made by EEC in the area of earthquake engineering and said that the centre had proved itself as a `national earthquake engineering center` and a strategic asset of Pakistan by providing modern testing facility. 

The centre has the potential to support the construction industry, power sector, telecom industry, industrial units, hospitals and communication departments such as NHA, C&W and Pak PWD.  


International donors pledge $150 million for Sindh flood victims

 

The NEWs Oct 9, 2011

ISLAMABAD: International donors have pledged $150 million for providing food, shelter, medicines and other facilities to the flood-hit people of Sindh, said Dr Zafar Iqbal Qadir, Chairman, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Saturday.
Briefing journalists, he said out of the pledged amount $61 million had already been received by the NDMA for providing basic amenities to the marooned people.
The NDMA is finalising a comprehensive strategy to minimise the effects of future catastrophes in the light of lessons learnt from the current disaster, he said.
A fully-equipped and well-trained disaster risk management force would be set up in each district soon with the mandate to minimise the losses of future calamities, he said.
They will be imparted latest training in collaboration with the civil defence and other departments concerned to enable them to better deal with the future emergencies, said Qadir.
During the time of emergencies, the volunteers would evacuate people, perform fire fighting and also distribute relief items in an organised way, he said, adding that every year the services of volunteers would be utilised to cope with any disaster.
The main purpose of establishing the disaster risk management force is to link up the services of Rescue 1122, civil defence, volunteers, boy scouts, etc, and utilise their services to meet the disastrous situation, he said.
Initially, the disaster risk management force would be established in Islamabad. And gradually the force would be expanded at provincial and district levels, he said.

NDMA launches ‘Resilient Cities’ campaign

      The NEWs Oct 9, 2011

ISLAMABAD: International donors have pledged $150 million for providing food, shelter, medicines and other facilities to the flood-hit people of Sindh, said Dr Zafar Iqbal Qadir, Chairman, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Saturday. 

Briefing journalists, he said out of the pledged amount $61 million had already been received by the NDMA for providing basic amenities to the marooned people. 

The NDMA is finalising a comprehensive strategy to minimise the effects of future catastrophes in the light of lessons learnt from the current disaster, he said. 

A fully-equipped and well-trained disaster risk management force would be set up in each district soon with the mandate to minimise the losses of future calamities, he said. 

They will be imparted latest training in collaboration with the civil defence and other departments concerned to enable them to better deal with the future emergencies, said Qadir. 

During the time of emergencies, the volunteers would evacuate people, perform fire fighting and also distribute relief items in an organised way, he said, adding that every year the services of volunteers would be utilised to cope with any disaster. 

The main purpose of establishing the disaster risk management force is to link up the services of Rescue 1122, civil defence, volunteers, boy scouts, etc, and utilise their services to meet the disastrous situation, he said.
Initially, the disaster risk management force would be established in Islamabad. And gradually the force would be expanded at provincial and district levels, he said