Speakers call for disaster prevention mechanism


There is a need for accountability and public awareness in bringing greater transparency to the disaster-prevention mechanisms, said former justice Nasira Iqbal on Monday while speaking on the topic of “Flood 2014: Beyond Tragedy, System Failure and Lessons for the Future” at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) before an audience of civil society campaigners, budding activists and students.

The occasion profiled other eminent speakers including World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Pakistan’s Ali Hasnain, Research Society of International Law executive director and international law expert Ali Sultan and Sikander Shah from the LUMS Law Faculty.

The purpose of the event was to advance and move the discourse away from a relief-centric approach to floods and discuss other factors such as system failure, lack of accountability and deficient flood-warning mechanisms that exacerbate the disaster. Using statistical references, Ali Hasnain from WWF, talked about the need for systematic proactive relief planning that is centred not only to prevent disaster but conserve water. He proposed the creation of Damair Bhasha Dam, clearing wetlands from residential pockets and the free flow of water to the Indus Delta as means to prevent floods.

Ali Sultan elaborated the critical role of early preparedness in the prevention of flood, the role of public awareness in minimising damage, the need for more serious legislation and governmental effort to consolidate flood-prevention.

Invoking the European example, Sikander Shah presented a contrast between the way disaster management and energy issues are dealt with in Pakistan and globally. Benefits of Europe’s special focus to the environment when designing energy projects were discussed.

He highlighted the responsibility of the city district governments in ensuring timely flood detection, prevention and relief.

The talk concluded in a dismissal of the popular belief that large dams solve the problem of floods and can address Pakistan’s water related issues. Creation of small dams, devolution of powers to local governments, better coordination between all agencies associated with both the detection and prevention of the natural disaster emerged as potentially effective solutions.

The event was hosted by Amnesty International at LUMS in collaboration with the Concerned Citizens Group and Research Society of International Law.