GILGIT: Early warning and radar systems under the Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) Project are being installed in over 200 valleys across Gilgit-Baltistan, Chief Secretary Mohyuddin Ahmed Wani said on Monday.

The project will have safe havens, well-equipped high-tech schools, dispensaries and community centres.

An Italian team recently trained the individuals selected for handling the early warning system. The personnel were trained in operating components like advanced automatic weather stations, rain gauges, snow depth sensors, water depth gauges, water discharge gauges, data loggers and warning posts.

The chief secretary said the equipment would be installed at 211 locations, spread over 16 valleys and 10 districts of GB. “The system will help communities build resilience and save lives in case of any disaster induced by climate change.”

The first early warning system will be installed at Hassanabad, Hunza, next month to monitor the Shisper glacier.

“We are building 17 state-of-the-art community-based disaster risk management centres in the most vulnerable areas of Gilgit-Baltistan under the GLOF-2 project,” Mohyiddin Ahmed, the chief secretary, said.

“These fully equipped facilities will double as emergency shelters, community hall and IT hub for the youth,” he added.

According to the United Nations Development Project, installation of the system would go a long way in building up resilience among local communities against natural disasters.

The Ministry of Climate Change and the UNDP’s GLOF-II Project are working with the GB authorities for the construction of base platforms for project valleys.

According to Met Office, Gilgit-Baltistan has over 5,000 glaciers and countless glacial lakes. Some of them have been declared “most dangerous”.

A large number of people living alongside these streams are at risk of flooding. According to the GB Disasters Management Authority, over 20 GLOF events were reported across GB last year. Seventeen residents were killed in floods in Ghizer district on Sunday.

Glacial lake outburst floods are abrupt events that can cause the release of millions of cubic metres of water and debris, resulting in the loss of lives and property in isolated and impoverished mountain villages.

The GLOF-II is a continuation of the four-year “Reducing risks and vulnerabilities in northern Pakistan’ project” under GLOF-I.

Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2023

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