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PESHAWAR, Jan 28: Natural scientists and environmentalists here on Saturday said that communities’ involvement could mitigate the negative effects of glacial lake outburst floods in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s higher regions, preventing loss of lives and properties.

They said that the human and technical capacity building of the provincial public sector institutions dealing with climate change would enable them to understand and take measures for the prevention of disasters because of glacial lake outburst floods, a natural phenomenon.

“Warming trend in our region is greater than the global average, which is increasingly becoming obvious since 2009,” Wajid Ali Khan, the provincial minister for environment, said while addressing the participants of an orientation workshop of a newly-launched project.

The project “Reducing Risks and Vulnerabilities from Glacier Lake Outburst Floods in Northern Pakistan”, funded by the UNDP, has been launched to minimise risks of natural disaster as a result of floods caused by a glacial lake outburst.

The minister said that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had made it as its top priority to protect people’s lives from natural disasters by taking appropriate measures.

“Few avalanches, massive landslides, floods, and cloudbursts during the last one decade wreaked havoc in Pakistan and now the glacial lakes have been posing an imminent threat of floods,” said the minister. He said that the problem of climate change needed to be dealt with effectively on the part of provincial government, taking measures to minimise the risks of losses to human life, property, livestock and infrastructure.

He said that communities vulnerable to threats of natural disasters should be involved in the implementation of the project to effectively conserve the natural resources of the provinces for sustainable development.

Mujtaba Hussain, the national project director, explained the objectives of the project and said that it was aimed at developing human and technical capacity of public institutions to address immediate threats to vulnerable communities in Northern Pakistan, enabling them to understand and respond to glacial lake outburst floods.

He said that the project would help the communities of higher regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Northern Areas of the country to adapt to growing climate change pressures.

Speaking on the occasion, Bilal Qureshi, a UNDP representative, said that his organisation realised the need for the vulnerable communities to adapt to climate change for which the new project would help to introduce them to best practices, conserving environment and mitigating risks of natural disasters.