by Nasira & Farasat Ali
Hydro meteorological hazard can be defined as a process of atmospheric, hydrological or oceanographic nature that may cause loss of life, injury or other health impacts, property damage, loss of livelihoods and services, social and economic disruption, or environmental damage. Hydro meteorological hazards include tropical cyclones (also known as typhoons and hurricanes), thunderstorms, hailstorms, tornados, blizzards, heavy snowfall, avalanches, and coastal storm surges, floods including flash floods, drought, heatwaves and cold spells. Hydro meteorological conditions also can be a factor in other hazards such as landslides, wildland fires, locust plagues, epidemics, and in the transport and dispersal of toxic substances and volcanic eruption material.
Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) is particularly exposed to hydro-metrological hazards which were identified as priority hazards during the consultative workshop convened in January, 2008 by Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority with collaboration of UNDP. These hydro-metrological hazards have same causative factors and impacts on the communities of GB. Evidences show that the hydro-metrological hazards have increased in GB in the last few decades.
Some important and frequently occurring hazards, identified with help of the communities are flash floods, riverine and glaciers lake outburst floods, snow and windstorms, lightening. Often flash floods trigger secondary hazards like landslides, mud slide, denudation and some time avalanches. These hazards are serious threats to the wide spread communities of GB. The life and critical facilities of the poor communities are highly vulnerable because any high magnitude hydro-metrological hazard can affect their life, socio-economical and environmental setup at any time.
The most recent hydro-metrological events in GB region are floods, drought, soil erosion and secondary hazards like landslides, mudflow and debris falling. During 1999, 2000,2001,2002,2205 and 2006 the hydro-metrological hazards affected almost all districts of Gilgit-Baltistan. The area also faced drought periodically. However worst and most recent drought was during 2000-2003 which affected about half of the population of the area.
UNDP-ECHO realizing the seriousness of the situation, has initiated a project, regional climate risk reduction with collaboration of WWF-Pakistan Gilgit office which is providing implementation support to UNDP Pakistan for this initiative in the most hydro-metrological hazards prone districts of Gilgit – Baltistan, including Gilgit, Astore and Nagar area.