PESHAWAR: The Provincial Disaster Management Authority, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has made the first-ever winter contingency plan as the province faces a range of natural hazards in the winter season.
The natural hazards mentioned in the plan include flashfloods, seismic activity along the mountainous north and west, landslides, and prolonged spells of droughts in the arid zones of the province.
Secretary of the relief and rehabilitation and settlement department Mohammad Abid Majeed told Dawn that natural disasters caused massive losses to people’s life and livelihoods, which retarded economic growth.
Secy says efforts will be made to minimise losses from natural disasters
“Under this contingency plan, the department would make efforts to minimise the losses likely to be caused by the natural disasters,” he said.
The secretary said the winter emergency scenarios are based on the last thirty years precipitation data.
He said they’re compared with the assessed precipitation forecast of the winter months furnished by Pakistan Metrological Department and international research institutes.
“Planning for winter emergencies caters for the worst case scenario,” he said.
According to the plan, the latest socio-economic poverty, degree of vulnerability to hazards, scale and scope of risks, historical precedence, remoteness of hazard prone regions, inadequacy of local coping mechanisms are the key criterion in determining the likely affected and vulnerable population, reveals the winter contingency plan.
The PDMA has initiated a process of introducing proactive preparedness regime under guidelines established by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) for streamlining response at provincial and district levels in coordination with all relevant stakeholders.
The process, contingency planning for major hazards, shall enable initiation of requisite mitigation measures and to undertake a coordinated response to minimise loss of life and property in the events of disasters. It is stakeholders’ inclusive exercise that takes stock of what exists in terms of plans and resources, hazards analysis to determine the likely relief caseloads as a planning assumption.
Strategies, objectives, role and coordination aspects of stakeholders are defined in the plan.
Talking to Dawn, assistant director (information) at the relief department Latifur Rehman said the winter contingency planning constituted the first exercise in this regard which would be followed by similar exercises for monsoon based hazards, droughts, earthquakes and industrial and technical hazards to facilitate preparation of national disaster preparedness and response plan by the end of 2019.
He said winter hazards occurring through November to March were accentuated by heavy precipitation in the upper mountainous regions of the province, he said. Snow avalanches and landslides either target vulnerable communities or isolate them by severing communication.
According to the plan, heavy rains can also cause flash floods in the catchment areas and semi-mountainous regions. Poor first responders and local response capacities and insufficiency in logistic resources for early access to disaster prone communities in remote mountainous regions, or for reopening severed land routes further aggravate the situation.
The resource mapping of the district administrations generally indicates sufficiency in meeting shelter, NFI and emergency food needs but would require, reopening of remote roads, restoring potable water sources and livelihood.
Based on the emerging situations, response to a major disaster would entail deployment of Rapid Response Force for search and rescue operations and also to provide immediate relief and emergency healthcare.
The aviation assets to provide aerial relief, Pakhtunkhwa Highway Authority, communication and works department, National Highway Authority, National Logistic Cell, Frontier Works Organisation and Pak Army will be mobilised for early restoration of road communication.
The plan said the Emergency Relief Cell transported shelter, food and NFI utilising PAF strategic airlift assets if required, while the NLC resources could also be deployed to augment land based relief efforts.
Under the plan, Wapda, PTCL and SNGPL would restore essential telecommunication and energy services and the health department bolsters health response and deploys capacities to preempt onset of epidemics.
It said the department of social welfare would mobilise resources for restoring livelihood of vulnerable communities and PDMA will constitute the focal point for handling donor support, consistent with national policies, and also for securing access to Chitral through Afghan territory, consistent with agreed arrangements.
Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2019