Floods on the horizon

The NDMA has to put its shoulder to the task

Crises never end on the weather front. We might be seeing a short respite from the blistering heat on account of the rains, but there are already met reports about upcoming floods. The erratic weather patterns that accompany  global warming are wreaking havoc with the state’s already strained crisis management apparatus. The National Disaster Management Authority has its work cut out for it.

As a nation, we’ve had a long history with the natural phenomenon, with our then eastern wing facing massive cyclones. In the western wing, we’ve seen some pretty bad floods; the terrible instance in the early 90s, and the state’s response to it, became a political rallying cry that eventually led to the then government’s (undemocratic) ouster. We’ve also seen a terrible instance in 2010. Our learning curve in how to deal with the same leaves much to be desired, however. That is not to say there isn’t an institutional memory regarding how to deal with such calamities, and it would be unfair to say our response has not improved. But more needs to be done.

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The government’s strategies for evacuation of the population in most at-risk areas need to be sharpened. The various meteorological departments need to improve their modeling abilities and should be funded as such, so that the latest equipment (and training) is provided to them. Massive relocation of population isn’t possible if there isn’t enough of an advance warning. Also, the practice of human settlements in areas that are periodically wiped out by water needs to be dealt with strongly. Being a soft state when it comes to this on account of the sheer poverty of those residing in these areas will not do, because it would be a mortal disservice to those very same disenfranchised people.

Lastly, there also need to be longer-term strategies. We ignore the role deforestation plays in the devastation caused by the floods. Plus, on the global front, Pakistan, as a member of the comity of nations, needs to slow down its reliance on fossil fuel. And, as a member of the Global South, hold the developed nations’ feet to the fire regarding their own carbon footprints.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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