By Shadman Zain
The recent GLOF and torrential rains have wreaked havoc in the length and breadth of the country resulting in affecting almost 35 million people which constitutes roughly 15 percent of the total population of Pakistan. The national loss is huge and unprecedented, the extraordinary times require remarkable efforts to effectively respond to calamities of this magnitude.
The state machinery mired in political and economic turmoil, doesn’t possess at this stage of time, the required wherewithal’s to single handedly and efficiently respond to the flood emergency in the country. Yet, it has set out within its capacity to mobilize and carry out the relief and rehabilitation activities. As the emergency response is underway in major parts of the country, the rehabilitation of the affectees poses great challenge and require coordinated efforts.
Given the scale of destruction and subsequent appeal from the government of Pakistan, the NGOs, foreign governments, and other local and international funding agencies are ramping up their efforts to assist the government of Pakistan in this time of need.
While the efforts are commendable, the real difference would only be brought about by the efficient, effective, and systematic utilization of the incoming funds. The ultimate assurance of that is possible through creating a coordinated system, informed, and steered by the principle of project management, assisted by evaluations and strict accountability mechanism.
As is evident that, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the country are comparatively more resourced and efficient in terms of expertise, accountability, knowledge, and skills to attend to the needs of emergencies, relief, rehabilitation, and developmental initiatives. Hence, the government needs to acknowledge the reality and create a diverse pool of non-government organizations and groups already working in the district level and are specialized to address issues of such natures. Afterwards, instead of initiating projects on its own, it should channelize the funds to the particular NGOs, organizations, and departments. The entire supervision of the process may rest with the deputy commissioner of respective districts, who will regularly seek reports from all the stakeholders and call progress review meetings to ensure that, the interventions are organized, efficient and timely attending to the needs.
The team of district level organizations under the command of the Deputy commissioner, after thorough review of each other’s strengths and weaknesses should divide the responsibilities based on their individual capabilities. For instances, some organizations are better equipped to generate creative and innovative ideas to design projects or carry out the initial assessments, whereas others possess monitoring and evaluations expertise or project implementation knowledge and skills. It will add to the collective efficacy of the desired interventions.
The first and foremost step before initiating the projects is the rapid needs assessment which is carried out to identify the specific needs of the affected families. The outcome/result of the study will then inform and guide the designing phase of the project to make sure that, the proposed interventions are aligned with the requirements of the beneficiary communities. This process should be consultative and must include all the stakeholders such as the community members, local government elected representatives etc.
The needs assessment will immediately be followed by the design and implementation of the projects. To ensure the long-term sustainability of the projects, area specific controllable/possible causes of the recent floods, such as location of the houses, overgrazing in hilly areas etc. should also be taken into account while designing the interventions.
While the magnitude of devastation is huge and beyond the capacity of the government alone to respond, the money would pour in through the pledges made by the foreign governments and other donor agencies. It is what will determine the success to get through the testing times is the compassion, will and determination on the part of government to allow and employ the NGOs and other agencies to systematically plan, manage and utilize the funds to address the genuine needs of the affectees.