Natural disaster early warning system to be improved


The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) and the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) have launched a joint initiative to improve the country’s natural disaster early warning system.
According to a WFP statement, the letter of agreement defines the joint efforts of WFP and PMD to set up a system to improve the dissemination of relevant and useful information for farmers and others threatened by weather-related shocks and other natural disasters. The letter of agreement will remain in force until Dec 31, 2011.
Pakistan has been struck by 150 major natural disasters in the last 65 years, primarily caused by floods, earthquakes, cyclones and drought.
This situation required that efforts be made urgently to acquire the best early warning system in order to save lives and protect livelihoods.
The WFP will work with the PMD to expand the existing automatic weather stations to Tharparkar and DI Khan for better validation of community-based early warning.
The weather data retrieval system will also be strengthened by providing GPRS sets through which more than 40 automatic weather systems installed throughout the country would become more efficient and cost effective in terms of retrieving weather information.
The information will be correctly and swiftly transmitted to Met dept headquarters for further dissemination to provinces and districts.
There has been some progress in forecasting cyclones and floods in Pakistan in recent years, while steps are also being taken to avert devastation by earthquakes.
Drought analysis and monitoring has been done regularly since 2002, and fortnightly advisories are provided to guide short-term interventions in the farming sector.
However, an analysis of the early warning best practices globally has shown that the benefits of scientific advances can be fully realised information and warnings are heeded on time.