PESHAWAR: The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) has prepared a contingency plan to cope with various natural hazards in winter.

The plan has been finalised under the guidance of relief, rehabilitation and settlement department to ensure a unified response for minimising the impacts of various winter hazards on people.

The natural hazards mentioned in the plan include extremely low temperature, fog, smog, snowfall, rainfall, landslides, flash floods and seismic activity along the mountainous north and west.

PDMA Director General Sharif Hussain said here on Tuesday that the process of the winter contingency plan was started in mid-October by involving all stakeholders of the federal government, provincial line departments, district administration and development partners.

Areas have been categorised as very high, high, medium and low risk districts

Digital tools for data collection were used in the process and information regarding district-specific hazards and vulnerability profiles, hazard impact, damage, compensation, resource mapping, need assessment and coordination was shared with all stakeholders.

He said that the plan provided a detailed overview of the district profile of winter hazards for the entire province. The document also covers details about the ‘composite risk score’ of every district, based on different types of hazards the districts are prone to. It also explains the corresponding risks that are associated with it along with the approximate vulnerable population in case of any untoward situation.

All the districts have mapped out their vulnerable sites and prepared a plan wherein all available resources are represented and the corresponding response is chalked out to identify clearly defined roles and responsibilities of various departments in case of any unfavourable scenario.

The province is prone to heavy snowfall, extremely low temperatures, cold waves, avalanches, landslides, heavy rainfall, fog and smog. Every hazard has its challenges.

For instance, heavy snowfall in the upper regions of Malakand and Hazara divisions disrupts routine life in different ways, ranging from road closures, collapse of buildings and subsequent shortage of essential commodities. Similarly, low temperatures and cold waves increase acute respiratory infection diseases.

The plan has mapped very specific challenges, hazards and risks of each district, based on composite risk index. This year, the flood-affected population has been counted as one of the indicators for the vulnerability assessment of each district.

Based on the historical data of events, losses to flood-affected people and scientific interpolation of weather parameters, the areas have been categorised as very high, high, medium and low risk districts.

The plan is a stakeholders-inclusive exercise that takes stock of what exists in terms of plans and resources and hazards analysis to determine the likely relief caseload as a planning assumption.

The resources and estimated caseload with clear roles and responsibilities of different departments for dealing with untoward emergencies in the province have also been included in the plan.

The plan will ensure initiation of required mitigation measures and a coordinated response to minimise losses in case of disaster.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2022

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