A year passes after floods but relief work still lacks coordination


Doing away with parallel overlapping systems and establishment of fully functional, well-resourced and integrated disaster management system at the grass-root level could ensure a reduction in flood losses in future, experts told Pakistan Today.
Pakistan is a disaster prone country and its ill-preparedness to meet any natural calamity renders a large number of its people vulnerable putting their existence and resources at stake, the said. According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), around two to five million people were likely to be affected by the floods in the current monsoon season.
“There are around 20 organizations or departments in the country which are working in floods related fields and there is zero coordination among them. Pakistan is still far away from protecting its people from flood disaster,” Arshad Abbasi, an expert in water and floods told Pakistan Today.
He also added that there was a lot of duplication in the works of the government departments which amounted to wastage of resources, adding that the government had failed to learn its lesson even after the last year’s loss of $4 to 5 billion.
The Oxfam in its recent report had also stated that Pakistan was facing another monsoon season but was not prepared for any calamity.
Amir Zia, a researcher working on the state response to flood disaster of 2010, said that NDMA establishment under National Disaster Management Act 2010 by the government had stated that federal and provincial relief cells would be absorbed into the NDMA and the purpose of it was avoiding duplicity and improving the coordination among different departments, but still various government departments were working parallel to each other with overlapping mandates.
He also added that the Oxfam too had pointed out this issue in its report. The Oxfam had said that it was particularly important that certain departments were integrated into disaster management structure, including Pakistan Meteorological Department and clarity was needed regarding the role of Federal Flood Commission as its coordination with provincial irrigation departments was weak. Zia further suggested that absence of local government system in the floods of 2010 would have helped reduce losses “The local government system, or whatever the system of local bodies the provincial governments come up with in future, needs to be integrated with NDMA.
The local governments, which consist of representatives of the most immediate vulnerable communities, can help improve the performance of the District Disaster Management Authority and NDMA,” Zia said. When NDMA spokesman Ahmed Kamal was contacted, he said that Pakistan was prepared. “I cannot say that Pakistan is completely prepared to face the disaster but it is certainly more prepared than last time,” the NDMA spokesman said.