ISLAMABAD: (PR) High temperatures and extreme monsoon rains across Pakistan’s mountainous northern areas continue to cause record floods, triggering destructive debris flows claiming lives and devastating homes and infrastructure. The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) and its team of trained Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers have mobilised early warning and response operations, safely evacuating more than 6000 people and providing relief to over 300 families.
Though Pakistan’s mountain communities have long dealt with high natural hazard risks, this summer the multiplier effect of a warming climate seems particularly severe with 100 incidents reported in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral since June.
AKAH has been leading community-based disaster management and response initiatives for the last two decades, establishing early warning and weather monitoring systems, prepositioning emergency stockpiles, training emergency response volunteers, educating communities, and constructing protective walls and other mitigation measures. These trained volunteers work with communities before the onset the monsoon season to prepare for the worst, developing disaster plans, practicing drills, and raising awareness. During the monsoon season they provide weather alerts, organise evacuations, and provide immediate relief if disaster strikes. These efforts have been crucial in saving lives and helping communities cope with the onslaught of devastating floods this summer.
Commenting on the situation, Ms. Nusrat Nasab, the Chief Executive Officer of Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, Pakistan noted, “the intensified monsoon rains have adverse impact in the mountainous area of Pakistan severely damaging settlements, critical infrastructure and lifeline, agricultural land and other livelihoods sources. Our volunteers and staff are working closely with communities, local authorities, and other institutions to manage the situation on the ground. AKAH’s Disaster Assessment Response Teams have done the initial assessment and relief operations are underway. There are challenges related to access at many locations particularly in Upper Chitral. The weather situation is making it worse and hindering our relief efforts to reach the remote villages in Chitral despite several attempts by the AKDN Helicopters from Islamabad.” She added, “the real challenge remains the restoration of critical infrastructures and huge resources will be required for rehabilitation”.
With the frequency and intensity of extreme weather expected to increase due to climate change, rehabilitation efforts must not only help communities adapt to these growing risks but also combat future climate change, incorporating greener solutions and longer-term, risk-informed planning.