Disaster Management in Pakistan

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Disaster management in Pakistan

By Irshad Ali Sodhar (FSP)

Outline
1. Introduction
2. Disaster; definition and types
3. Disaster management
4. Phases of disaster management;
a. Mitigation
b. Preparedness
c. Response
d. Recovery

5. History of disasters in Pakistan
6. Disaster in the wake of recent floods
7. Structure of disaster management in Pakistan
8. Role of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)
9. Abysmal state of disaster preparedness and management in Pakistan 10. Impacts of weak disaster management
i) Food crisis
ii) Health hazards
iii) Ravaged infrastructure
iv) Unemployment and economic loss
v) Militancy and crime
vi) Political upset

11. An organised disaster management is the need of the hour. 12. Measures to improve disaster management in Pakistan
13. Conclusion

Pakistan is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world. Generally divided into natural and man-made, all disasters are managed by a systematic process of disaster management that aims at minimising the damage and restoration of people to their normal state. Pakistan is well familiar with disasters which have caused a heavy toll in terms of men and material.

However, due to its inadequate preparedness to manage disasters, it has failed to effectively cope with them. Though, after earthquake-2005, a systematic effort was geared up to develop a viable structure of disaster management evolving into establishment of NDMA, it has yet to achieve the required standards. The heavy floods of 2010 exposed its unpreparedness and frail management resulting in unprecedented proportion of losses and damages. Since, the magnitude of implications is too heavy to bear; the efficient disaster management comes, on the priority, second to none of other needs. Therefore, it is necessary to formulate an organised disaster management system to cope with disasters that may break out in future.

Disaster is defined as "a catastrophic event that brings about great damage, destruction and devastation to life and property." The damage caused by disasters varies depending upon geographical location, climate severity and above all, the types of disasters. Disasters have been classified into two categories - natural disasters and man-made disasters. Cyclones, tsunami, floods, droughts, earthquakes and volcanoes are a few examples of natural disasters; and wars and nuclear accidents fall in the category of the man-made disasters. All these calamities and catastrophes incur heavy toll on man and his habitat. However, the disasters can be mitigated and losses can be minimised with efficient preparedness and management.

Disaster management is the mechanism of coordinating and utilising available resources to deal emergencies effectively, thereby saving lives, avoiding injuries and minimising losses. This also deals with strategic and organisational management processes used to protect vital assets from hazard risks in such emergencies.

As mentioned earlier, disaster management is a systematic process, consisting ostensibly of four main phases: response, recovery, relief and rehabilitation. However, it remains incomplete without mitigation and preparedness, which are basically pre-disaster management phases. All these phases are crucially important in managing disasters. Mitigation, the very first phase of disaster management, is a sustained action that reduces both short-term and long-term risks to people and property from the hazards and their effects. It involves activities like scientific hazard analysis, vulnerability analysis, risk assessment, avoiding construction in high risk zones, launching awareness campaigns, training and capacity building of responders and managers, etc. Mitigation, therefore, is a persistence effort to lessen the impact that disasters may incur.

Preparedness, the second phase of disaster management, is defined by Global Development Research Center as "a set of steps that enhance the ability of...
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