Friday, August 19, 2011

Effective disaster reduction steps for Pakistan

Dawn (Pakistan): International aid agency Oxfam has said that an effective disaster reduction mechanism could have prevented the effects of fresh flooding in southern areas of Pakistan. It urged the government to urgently spend at least two per cent of its district budget on disaster risk reduction measures. “Failure to develop and implement effective disaster reduction relief measures after the lessons learnt from mega floods of 2010 will keep crippling country’s economy,” Oxfam said in a statement issued here on Thursday to mark the World Humanitarian Day.

The new flooding has put an additional stress on the government’s limited resources at a time when even a year after the 2010 floods many reconstruction and rehabilitation needs are still unmet, including the repair of embankments. This has particularly put the flood-prone areas at greater risk as the monsoon rains intensify. The fresh flooding has increased the number of those needing shelter, making 60,000 people homeless together with 800,000 people who are still without proper homes after the 2010 floods.

“Humanitarian assistance provides valuable and life-saving assistance to those in need during crises. However, it is the communities that face and cope with the first wave of disaster themselves before the government and aid workers can start their rescue and relief operations.

“Therefore, it is extremely important to ensure that communities are better prepared for disasters so that they are less reliant on outside assistance and can help themselves by mitigating losses at an early stage of disaster,” said Neva Khan, head of Oxfam in Pakistan. She said: “It is unfortunate that despite being a disaster-prone country people still continue to suffer year after year, and absence of effective disaster reduction relief measures is the main reason....

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