Floods in Pakistan demonstrate that commitments made six years ago to save lives have not been met
Islamabad - Commitments that were made by governments in 2005 to ensure that people are better prepared for disasters in Pakistan have fallen short and will not be met by the deadline of 2015, international aid agency Oxfam said today as the country marked the six year anniversary of the devastating 2005 earthquake in Pakistan Administered Kashmir.
As the floods in Pakistan continue, Oxfam said that more needed to be done to implement the Hyogo Framework for Action to ensure that the country was better prepared for disasters.
In 2005, 168 governments agreed to adopt a ten-year plan known as the Hyogo Framework for Action, which commits to strengthen people’s resilience to disasters.
The failure to invest more in disaster prevention in Pakistan has meant people are less able to cope with the devastating impact of natural disasters such as this year’s floods. Oxfam called on the Pakistan government and donors to respond to the dire humanitarian needs now and also invest in disaster prevention measures to ensure that this year’s crisis is not repeated. The donor response to this year’s floods has been poor – and there is a risk of the aid effort running out of resources in a few weeks unless donors immediately step up their efforts.
"Everyone is aware of how disasters have taken their toll in Pakistan and how they are continuing to put people at the brink of desperation. Until we start preparing for these events and having systems in place to cope in an effective and properly invested way, the vicious circle of suffering will continue to affect millions", said Neva Khan, Country Director of Oxfam in Pakistan.
Oxfam said there were concrete examples of how lives had been saved through disaster prevention. For example, after the earthquake of 2005 in Pakistan Administered Kashmir, Oxfam built retaining walls in areas that were close to a river and when the area was hit by flooding in 2010, these walls saved over 1500 people. This also meant that people had time to evacuate with their belongings over a period of three days. Also, in 2010 over 200,000 people were evacuated by rescue boats with the help of Oxfam and its partners as flood waters rose in different parts of the country.
Oxfam called on the government to take urgent steps to implement the framework. The agency urged the government to ensure early warning systems are placed throughout the country and that vulnerable communities have the means to prepare themselves for disasters – for example by building houses on raised platforms or constructing barriers to prevent the spread of flood water. The agency said that such measures would save lives and money in the long term.
"Pakistan is highly disaster-prone, with two major disasters in the past five years alone, yet major losses are not inevitable. Excellent management policies exist to minimise the impact of disasters, but they are not being implemented on the ground, and during the floods huge gaps became apparent. This is not good enough, and it undermines efforts to help the economy to grow, to minimise food insecurity, and to improve social and political stability", said Khan.
Slideshow: Oxfam responds to fresh flooding in Pakistan
Notes to Editors
- A major earthquake struck Pakistan-administered Kashmir on October 8, 2005 causing at least 76,000 deaths.
- Oxfam was able to reach nearly one million people through its response. Oxfam also launched a three-year reconstruction program which benefitted more than 1,57,000 individuals through the provision of livestock support, capacity building sessions, improved water infrastructure, female adult literacy programmes, health interventions, better community access, rehabilitation of two schools, Village Disaster Management Plans, construction of flood retaining walls, disaster education for children, disaster preparedness training and establishment of a hydropower station.
- Photos from Pakistan are available on request.
- Oxfam staff are available for interviews.
- Through the on-going flood response Oxfam and our partners have reached more than 448,832 people. We have provided 228,091 people with clean water supplies, conducted hygiene promotion sessions with 39,349 people, provided 33,789 people with hygiene kits, provided kitchen kits to 23, 738 people and assisted in the search and rescue of 58,208 people. Oxfam aims to reach 850,000 people over the duration of its response and is working in the eight worst affected districts of Sindh.