IRC unveils reports to mitigate calamities turning into human disasters

ISLAMABAD: The International Rescue Committee (IRC) on Tuesday launched its recent reports on local adaptation plan of action (LAPA) conducted in four districts, two each from Balochistan and Sindh, to mitigate natural catastrophes turning into human disasters through informed policy guidelines and recommendations at local level.

The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) organised the launching ceremony of IRC’s LAPA Reports carried out in Thatta of Sindh and Chaman of Balochistan here and also hosted a detailed panel discussion to initiate expert discourse on the action plan document. The session was moderated by Director Policy, SDPI Dr Shafqat Munir Ahmed.

Executive Director SDPI, Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri in his welcome remarks underlined that informed decision making and enhanced resilience was all about adaptation at the local level. He added that the catastrophes turning into human disasters could be avoided through better and well conceived policies and their strong implementation.

He said the LAPA Reports were right policy documents at the macro level and was a good topic of discussion. “2022 is the manifestation of warming planet be it unprecedented heatwaves in Pakistan, glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF), unprecedented downpours in monsoon. It is warming due to anthropogenic human activities.”

Dr Suleri mentioned that Pakistan was one of the least emitters of carbon dioxide emissions but this planet would continue to warm, adding, “But we can’t sit idle and have to do our lot like local level adaptation plans, mitigation through local resources and tap international support where possible.”

He noted that Pakistan would plead its case for concrete loss and damage at the 27th Conference of Parties (COP-27) in Sharm El-Sheikh as the country was highlighting climate justice, compensation, loss and damage and others.

He underlined that LAPA was the timely policy framework that would act as one stitch in time saves a nine.

Country Director IRC Shabnam Baloch said the present era masses were unfortunately living in a world facing extreme natural disasters. “One in seven Pakistanis are affected due to floods and there were diseases spreading, and economic losses ripping off the country’s economy.”

She noted that the catastrophe of massive torrential rains and floods had put the country 25 years back as Covid-19 pandemic was also a massive set back in terms of education, economy and social impacts on the masses.

“We are sitting on the brink of many natural calamities as we underwent unprecedented heatwaves where Jacobabad became the hottest city in the world with blazing 51°C temperature and drought in Cholistan which is the country’s second largest desert.”

He said that the study launched in four districts two each of Sindh and Balochistan reflected existence of short-term approaches and long-term strategies, adding, ” Climate Change is not only a macro rather a micro level issue impacting the communities at local level.”

At the end of the inaugural session Senior Joint Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) Muhammad Farooq and IRC Country Director Shabnam Baloch along with Executive Director SDPI Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri launched the LAPA Reports.

The author of LAPA Report on Thatta, IRC Study Consultant and Climate Change Expert Dr Shakeel Hayat briefed the participants on the LAPA Reports. He said the local knowledge on climate change and weather patterns was crucial for planning to ensure community resilience. “LAPA is a community based approach and an all inclusive effort taking bottom up approach with a participatory and contextual planning which makes it more effective.”

He added that overarching objective of LAPA was all about giving support and protection through development initiatives.

He said the aims of LAPA was to identify governance issues, existing indigenous plans, impacts of climate change on socioeconomic conditions of the local people and then integrate LAPA into national and indigenous plans of adaptations.

A panel discussion moderated by Dr Shakeel Hayat initiated a detailed discourse on the LAPA Reports that also garnered interest of the participants and ended with a robust question and answer session.

The panelists including Climate Change Expert, Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC) Dr Hammed Jamali, Chairman Federal Flood Commission Dr Ahmed Kamal, Consultant World Bank and Climate Change Expert, Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, and Dr Imran Khalid from WWF-Pakistan shed light on the length and breadth of the policy documents.

Participating in the panel discussion, Senior Joint Secretary MoCC, Muhammad Farooq informed that the Ministry was preparing National Adaptation Plan and LAPA would help guide us in the process.

“There is need of a national player to meet the target of developing community resilience against climate disasters. There can be reservations on the national level policies but holistic goals cannot be achieved at the local level. There are eight priority sectors of forestry, agriculture, urban sector, energy etc and developed long term solutions for these sectors adaptation to climate change.”

He added that the stakeholders needed to have legal structures to ensure adaptation plans and this was not a new normal rather needed a national level policy to cover all aspects. “The seriousness of the government at the moment is unprecedented to address climate disasters. However, the policy making process’ streamlining at the district level will bring a positive change.”

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