THE recent glacial lake outburst flooding (GLOF) and torrential rains have wreaked havoc on the country, affecting about 15 per cent of the national population. These extraordinary times require extraordinary measures to effectively respond to calamities of such magnitude. The state machinery mired in political and economic turmoil, does not possess at this juncture the required wherewithal to single-handedly and efficiently respond to the flood emergency.

Given the scale of destruction and subsequent appeals by the government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), foreign governments, and other local and international funding agencies are ramping up their efforts to assist the government in this hour of need.

While such efforts are commendable, the real difference would only be brought about by efficient, effective and systematic utilisation of the resources so available. A coordinated system, informed and steered by the principle of project management, assisted by evaluations and strict accountability mechanism can do wonders in this regard.

NGOs in the country are comparatively more resourced and efficient in terms of expertise, accountability, knowledge and skills to attend to the needs of emergencies, relief, rehabilitation, and developmental initiatives. Hence, the government needs to acknowledge the reality, and create a diverse pool of NGOs already working in the field and are specialised in addressing such issues.

Afterwards, instead of initiating the projects on its own, the government should channelise the funds through participating NGOs, organisations and departments. The entire supervision of the process may rest with the deputy commissioner of respective districts, who should regularly seek reports from all the stakeholders, and call progress review meetings to ensure that the interventions were organised, efficient and timely with respect to addressing the needs.

The team of district level organisations under the command of the deputy commissioner, after thorough review of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, should divide the responsibilities based on their individual capabilities.

For instance, some organisations are better equipped to generate creative and innovative ideas to design projects, or carry out the initial assessments, whereas others possess monitoring and evaluations expertise, or project implementation knowledge and skills. It will add to the collective efficacy of the desired interventions.

The first and foremost step before initiating the projects is the rapid assessment of needs that is carried out to identify the specific needs of the affected families. The outcome/result of the study then informs and guides the designing phase of the project to make sure that the proposed interventions are aligned with the requirements of the recipient communities. This process should be consultative and must include all the stakeholders, such as the community members, local government, elected representatives, etc.

The assessment will immediately be followed by the design and implementation of the projects. To ensure long-term sustainability of the projects, area-specific controllable/possible causes of the recent floods, such as location of the houses, over-grassing in hilly areas, etc., should also be taken into account while designing the interventions.

While the magnitude of devastation is huge and beyond the capacity of the government alone to respond, the money would trickle in through the pledges made by the foreign governments and other donor agencies.

What will ultimately determine the success or failure would be the compassion, the will and the determina-tion on the part of the government. The larger the resource pool, more are the chances of getting to the other end intact.

Shadman Zain
Chitral

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2022

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