Pakistan: Disasters are inevitable, but devastation is not
Five years ago Pakistan faced massive destruction caused by the Kashmir earthquake. Today, over twenty million people are affected by the biggest floods the country has ever seen. Disasters do not have lead to devastation, and today Oxfam called on the Government of Pakistan and the international community to invest in measures that reduces and manages the risk of disasters at district and community levels.
In a disaster prone country and with future disasters likely to be more intense, more substantial investment should be made at district and community level so that men, women and children are protected from the impacts of future disasters and damage is minimized. With early recovery and reconstruction work underway, Oxfam said that it is vital to invest in local authorities that can tackle and address risks better - working with communities to protect their families, livestock and houses during disasters such as earthquakes and floods will be critical for this to become a reality.
Javeria Afzal, Oxfam’s Program Coordinator-Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change in Pakistan, said, “The massive devastation caused by this worst flood in living memory for Pakistan was compounded by inadequate investment in strengthening the national disaster management system. There must not be a next time. The damage caused could have been less, if more substantial investment had been made in Disaster Risk Management. Plans to prepare and adapt for future disasters must receive investment and be implemented now.”
In villages where such programs have been implemented people have experienced less damage and loss with this recent flood even though the flood was the worst that they have ever seen.
Laskhar Pur Village, District Muzaffargarh in South Punjab where Oxfam introduced a Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) program in 2006 has encountered considerably less damage than neighboring villages that had not participated in the program in the recent and biggest flood they have ever seen.
Javeria Afzal said, “Oxfam has been working with communities for years to prepare for disasters by developing contingency plans, early warning systems, practice evacuations and helping them to adapt to the changing environment, through initiatives as simple as raised homes. And now we know that this has worked.“
There is not a moment to lose if Pakistan is to learn and invest in Disaster Risk Reduction programs so that future calamities cause minimal damage and loss to the country and its people.
Notes to Editors
1. The Kashmir earthquake that took place on 8th October 2005 killed 75,000 people. Most of the devastation hit north Pakistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir. In Kashmir, the three main districts were badly affected and Muzaffarabad, the state capital of Kashmir, was hardest hit in terms of casualties and destruction.
2. Oxfam’s DRR program started in Muzaffargarh District, South Punjab in 2006 working with 50 villages with a total of 2,637 families. Disaster Risk Reduction is part of Oxfam’s long-term development program.
Photos and testimonies of Oxfam’s Disaster Risk Reduction program work in South Punjab
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