WITH the monsoon season approaching, the National Disaster Management Authority has warned that 29 million people countrywide may be affected by flooding this year. At a recent press conference, the authority’s head advised the provinces to “invest in disaster preparedness” as disaster management was primarily the provinces’ domain following devolution. He added that 29 districts had been identified as being vulnerable to monsoon flooding. Also, it has emerged that repair work on the Left Bank Outfall Drain in Sindh will not be completed before the monsoon season. The drain was damaged during last year’s floods. It has been reported that the repair work started too late, while third-party evaluation of the repair work is not being carried out. Other reports indicate that encroachments on waterways in Sindh remain an issue.
The country has been devastated by two years of intense floods which displaced millions and caused billions in damage. Given the impact climate change is having on global weather, more extreme events such as 2010’s ‘super flood’ cannot be ruled out. Work has been done on repairing waterways and dykes damaged in 2010’s flood, yet as stated work remains on key waterways such as the LBOD. The challenge is to get the work done in time and to not compromise on quality. The authorities at all three tiers of government — the centre, the provinces and the districts — must be prepared and have an integrated plan of action ready to deal with floods and their aftermath. Apart from the repair of waterways, it must be ensured that evacuation plans exist and that arrangements are made for the provision of shelter, food and medical care to flood victims at short notice. Issuing warnings ahead of time is commendable; now these words must be translated into action to ensure damage is mitigated and the mistakes of the past are not repeated.