LAHORE: Pakistan has been unable to develop its capacity to deliver reliable information and services on weather, despite its key economic sectors depending heavily on managing weather and disaster risks sectors, documents available with Pakistan Today revealed.
The documents regarding Pakistan’s hydro-meteorological sectors, indicate that the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) does not have the capacity with respect to implementation and supervision of environmental and social safeguards.
The documents stress to increase the satisfaction of user departments and target communities, and correspond to their needs by providing information on time.
A number of key federal institutional actors were identified within the hydro-meteorological sectors, and a number of provincial and local government agencies.
The documents clearly noted that the products and services currently provided by the PMD do not respond to the requirements of users and stakeholders. They suggest that modernisation of the service is essential for the economic and social development in the country.
Pakistan is prone to a range of hydro-meteorological hazards including flash floods, riverine floods, droughts, heat waves and cyclones. Pakistan is one of the most flood prone countries in South Asia. The 2010 floods were particularly catastrophic, affecting approximately 20 million people with around 2,000 lives lost and 2 million homes damaged or destroyed.
Flood exposure is very high throughout the country, due to the runoff from snow-fed rivers through mountain ranges, and heavy rains during the monsoon season.
In addition, people of Pakistan are subject to greater flood risk because of limited existing meteorological and flood forecasting capabilities in the country.
On the other end of the spectrum, most of Pakistan experiences low rainfall and as much as 60 percent of the country is classified as semi-arid to arid, with the most susceptible regions experiencing drought 2 or 3 years every decade.
The documents indicate that the adverse effects of climate change could increase Pakistan’s vulnerability to natural disasters. Globally, Pakistan is considered the 6th country to be most affected by extreme weather events, constituting a major challenge for development.
The possible effects of climate change in Pakistan are expected to increase the glacial melt, which in turn would raise the sea level along Pakistan’s coast, and increase periods without precipitation, potentially leading to dry spells and droughts. Increased glacial recession in the present and near future will result in re-distribution of seasonal water inflow to the Indus River Basin.
The performance of Pakistan’s key economic sectors depends heavily on managing weather and disaster risks. Sectors such as agriculture, aviation, water, urban infrastructure and hydropower, underpin economic productivity, employment and poverty reduction efforts. Improved development and delivery of information, services and early warnings can make important contributions to economic productivity while also enhancing community resilience to natural hazards.