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Fata disaster management in tatters

July 23, 2012


PESHAWAR, July 22: The government is yet to regularise the resource-strapped Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) that was established to respond effectively to natural and man-made disasters in the volatile and remote tribal areas of the country, according to officials.

In the wake of growing militancy, the federal government had set up FDMA in October 2008 after extending National Disaster Management Ordinance, 2007 to tribal areas to achieve sustainable social, economic and environmental development in the region through reducing risk and vulnerabilities.

Mandate of the authority was to equip and train the line departments for the future natural or man-made disasters and design feasible plans for seven tribal agencies and six frontier regions to respond to any calamity in time and reduce the risk of losses.

But the government neither inducted additional manpower and resources nor gave permanent status to the body, leaving it to drift in the wilderness of Fata.

Officials said that strength of the authority had shrunk and it was now dependent on funding from donor agencies to carry out relief activities. An official said that presently there was one director general, four assistant directors and 15 support staffers at FDMA’s headquarters in Peshawar.

“It is very difficult to manage affairs in a troubled region with such a meagre staff and resources,” he said, adding that the authority had the responsibility to coordinate with international and national non-governmental organisations working in Fata to rehabilitate victims of the conflict and reconstruct damaged infrastructure in the area.

He said that major task of the authority was to facilitate work of the donor agencies and national and international organisations to accomplish the task of rehabilitation of displaced persons and reconstruction of the damaged infrastructure.

The federal government had sanctioned Rs97.5 million for bearing establishment cost when FDMA was set up. Sources said that future of the FDMA was uncertain as it would stand dissolved by 2013 if the government did not extend or award permanent status to the body.

More or less two million people in Fata have been displaced owing to violence. Most of them have taken shelter in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other provinces. Infrastructure has been damaged in Fata, but FDMA is yet to establish or strengthen its network in the region.

Over 200,000 IDPs from Khyber Agency who have taken shelter in Jalozai camp are being looked after by UN agencies and Provincial Disaster Management Authority that reduced responsibility of FDMA. The FDMA has opened small offices in Khyber, Kurram, Bajaur and Mohmand agencies and Tank. The office of the authority in Tank is looking after relief and other activities in South Waziristan Agency.

The authority has no office in North Waziristan Agency for unknown reasons, it is learnt. Its offices in Kurram, Khyber and Tank have skeleton staff and their function is to keep the headquarters updated if any emergency or disaster occurs in their respective tribal agencies. Skeleton staff in some tribal agencies is paid by the donor agencies.

Officials said that the authority had no staff at its offices in Bajaur and Mohmand agencies since the internally displaced persons had returned to their homes. Earlier, they said, the FDMA had 104 support staffers in those two tribal agencies and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was paying salaries to them.

The UN agency relieved those employees when IDPs returned to their homes in Bajaur and Mohmand agencies, they said.

“FDMA does not have even skeleton staff at its offices in Bajaur and Mohmand agencies,” said an official.