ISLAMABAD, June 21: Highlighting the significance of an effective framework for disaster risk management in the country, a policy dialogue demanded immediate compensation for the flood-affected communities particularly the women and the vulnerable sections of the society.

The policy dialogue titled, 'Floods 2010: Governance Issues in Disaster Risk Management' was jointly organised on Tuesday by ActionAid-Pakistan and Institute of Social and Policy Science to mark the first anniversary of the devastating 2010 flood.

The speakers, while pointing out the institutional, legal and financial lacunas in the national disaster management, asked the government to introduce appropriate systems to deal with the grievances of the flood-affected people who could not get Watan cards. They also demanded immediate release of second installment to those who had been given the Watan cards.

The speakers said that at policy level, the government should give special considerations to the women heading households and other such vulnerable groups in issuing the Watan cards while facilitating them at the implementation level.

They said that the Provincial Disaster Management Authorities (PDMAs) lacked required capacities to efficiently respond to the disasters and appropriate steps should be taken to improve the skills and abilities of the PDMAs so that they might play a leading role in coordinating response to the floods and other disasters.

They said presently the structure of the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) did not exist at the district level causing serious issues in responding to the disasters. They demanded of the government to make DDMA functional fully and there should be an effective national coordinating mechanism.

They criticised the Parliament for not putting proper efforts in drafting the National Disaster Management Act 2010. They said that NDM Act 2010 should be reviewed comprehensively to avoid duplication of roles and responsibilities.

Jemal Ahmed, Country Director ActionAid Pakistan, in his opening remarks said that the basic objective of holding the policy dialogue was to discuss and debate legal, institutional, financial and implementation challenges for effective Disaster Risk Management (DRM), particularly in the context of floods 2010.

Dr Salman Hamayoun, Executive Director ISAPS said that lack of coordination in response to floods 2010 was not only among the public and civil society organisations but it was also evident in different organs of the United Nations dealing with the flood disaster.

Member NDMA-DRR, Ahmed Kamal said that the existing budgetary allocation for disaster risk management had many flaws as more than 99 per cent of the funds were being spent on flood response whereas literally a meager amount was being spent on disaster preparedness.

He said that NDMA was in a process of finalising the national contingency plan that would soon be made public.

PDMA representatives from Punjab, Balochistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir were also present on the occasion. They noted down the observations made by the participants of the policy dialogue and pledged to incorporate the feedback in their future course of actions.

Azhar Lashari of ActionAid laid emphasis on the need of effective institutional framework to cope with the disasters such as 2010 flood.

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