AS various parts of the country face early monsoon rains, and the threat of floods hovers, the disaster management authority, is now walking a tightrope as it struggles to manage flood disasters in the midst of a pandemic.
We need not go too far back in time to see the havoc and destructions floods caused in 2010 when they ravaged Swat and Nowshera. Moreover, the period from 2011 to 2015 gave little reprieve as floods took toll on the economy and society.
Heavy rains battered the plains of Sindh, the Chenab inundated villages in Punjab and the total losses during this period reached $19billion that surpassed the losses from floods from 1947 combined.
However, in these testing times when floods may occur causing problems for economy and human lives, it is the test of the disaster management authority to tackle the aftermath with logic and prudence. It is evident that our flood management policy is centred on implementing structural measures such as constructing embankments and river training structure.
The non-structural measures have made rudimentary progress, which include early warning signals that are riddled with forecast reliability and integration concerns. Therefore, the disaster management authorities need to plan beforehand in case floods require large-scale evacuation of population.
In this pandemic, when following the SOPs and social distancing is the need of the hour, it is necessary that the relief shelters be prepared in this regard. There should be immense emphasis on sanitation and hygiene to prevent the spread of virus and infections. Moreover, we can learn from Bangladesh and how it has successfully handled the cyclone crisis during this pandemic by expanding the capacity of its shelters, and the authorities scrambled to manufacture and distribute masks and hand sanitisers to volunteers, evacuees and officials.
KARACHI is well aware of the apathy of the PPP and MQM towards it, which is why it voted PTI so passionately. If, despite having a president, a governor, 14 National Assembly seats, dozens of MPAs and multiple federal ministers from Karachi, PTI is still unable to even clean up the garbage, one wonders what exactly it is capable of achieving.
This is a request to the prime minister to allocate a special grant of Rs1 billion for Karachi for cleaning the rainwater drains.
Syed Hamza Ali
Published in Dawn, August 5th, 2020