Disaster reduction a Way of Survival

By Abbas Wafa

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction is celebrated every year on the 13th of October.  The main objective of celebrating this day is to raise awareness about the disaster risk reduction and coping measures. It also encourages people and governments to participate in building more resilient communities and nations.

The term Disaster Reduction is used to define the strategies that may save lives, homes, infrastructure and access to essential facilities in a disaster. It includes observing, detecting, monitoring, predicting and early warning of a wide range of weather, climate and hazards through a coordinated approach. It gives the awareness of coping measures and also educates people and governments to build more resilient communities and nations.

Sustainability of  ecosystems in Pakistan has been negatively affected by a number of short and long term threats, including illicit cutting of forests for fuelwood and timber;over grazing of pasture and unmanaged tourism lead to accelerate flash floods; glacial failure, landslides and river bank erosion. Increasing population and uncoordinated development are also putting tremendous pressure on the ecosystems. Other factors are extreme poverty, lack of alternatives, weak law enforcement, and lack of awareness, education and most prominently climate change.

The rapid changes in the global climate patterns disaster rate in the world particularly in Pakistan has been raised during the last couple of years. That is why many people around the world, and especially in Pakistan, have lost their lives, homes or access to essential facilities due to natural disasters, including earthquakes, heavy flooding, avalanches and landslides. Some of these disasters have also caused economic damage to the communities.

Recent floods in Pakistan which caused a huge distraction were the worst floods in the last 100 years. According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)’s rapid assessment 14,571,885 of the population have been affected, a 132,000 Sq Km area including agricultural land has been damaged and 722,508 house holds damaged or destroyed. According to The media reports, it was more destructive than Hurricane Katrina in the USA in August, 2005.

The series of different natural disasters in Pakistan during the last decade indicates that unsustainable natural resources management practices have put dangerous pressures on the ecosystems, making them increasingly hazardous and more susceptible to disasters.

Climate change is causing glaciers to retreat and dangerous lakes to form at their foot which can burst unpredictably, as happened in upper Hunza in January, 2010. It is urgent to increase awareness and develop integrated strategies and policies to reduce the risk of disaster and disaster risk management at the nation al level as well as international level.

Education, training, and information exchanges are effective ways to help people become better equipped in withstanding natural disasters. Because awareness comes gradually there is urgent need to provide education about the natural resource management at all school levels so that the future generations become aware of natural resource management, it’s scientific significance and most appropriate and objective way for natural disaster reduction.

Training is an essential component to cope with any natural disaster. One of the more significant issues on disaster reduction is that people do not take measures even if they know the importance of preparedness. Safer infrastructural construction and flood protection walls are the most important component for earthquake and flash flood disaster reduction. Communication is the key to getting attention from rescuing teams.  It is necessary to train vulnerable communities about this so that they could save the lives, property and infrastructure in case of any natural disaster.

The most important action to be taken is the scientific research to determine accurate causes of the climate change because it’s the main reason of natural disasters. After a relievable research an objective and practical conservation regimen is also needed to reduce the natural disaster risk.

Disaster is a part the natural process but all of us need to play our role to raise awareness and reduce our vulnerability to future hazards.

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