Flooding threats

Published May 23, 2024

WITH temperatures in GB and KP forecasted to be four to six degrees higher than normal this week, the threat of Glacier Lake Outburst Floods and flash floods looms large. GLOFs, triggered by the sudden release of water from melting glacial lakes, can lead to widespread destruction, including loss of life, damage to property, and the disruption of essential services. The increasing frequency of these events, driven by climate change, necessitates urgent action. The immediate response must focus on ensuring the safety and preparedness of regions likely to be affected. Timely and accurate dissemination of warnings is critical. Local administrations should activate evacuation plans, prepare temporary shelters, and mobilise emergency services. Residents must stay vigilant, avoiding travel to high-risk areas and preparing emergency kits with essentials. Given that summer is in full swing and GB is a popular tourist spot, the authorities should ensure that visitors are well-informed about potential hazards and safety protocols.

In the long term, a comprehensive disaster management strategy is essential. The Scaling-up Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF-II) in Northern Pakistan project by UNDP and the Green Climate Fund is a laudable initiative. It includes constructing protective infrastructure, slope stabilisation measures, and early warning systems. However, more is needed. As has been described in these pages, continued investment in infrastructure is crucial. Building flood barriers, improving drainage systems, and regularly monitoring glacial lakes with satellite technology can mitigate the impact of GLOFs. Pakistan should collaborate with international climate bodies for technical expertise. Sustained community involvement is equally vital. Local groups and leaders must foster awareness and preparedness through campaigns, drills, and forming disaster risk reduction committees. Establishing emergency response teams within villages can ensure swift action. By fostering a culture of preparedness, we can protect lives from the mounting threats posed by climate change.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2024

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