Monday, October 10, 2011

Disaster Hit Pakistanis – Victims of Own Negligence

Noor Muhammad
It is not easy to blame nature for the flood disaster that killed more than 440, including 113 children, displaced over 5 million people and destroyed standing crop spread on up to 2.1 million acres of land in the Sindh province of our beloved country.

Nature gave us enough warnings, and punishments, last year and the years before. But, stubborn and inefficient, as we are, we continue to ignore the ‘signs’ and refuse to create and maintain systems that can save lives, properties and infrastructure.

Ironically, hundreds of thousands of people affected this year are the ones who were already suffering from last year’s super flood.

The best that our government leaders could do, apart from gimmicks like walking in rain water, was to organize a press conference and ‘request’ the international community to come, yet again, and save the millions of our hungry and homeless Pakistani brothers, sisters and children.

Is it inevitable that our people should always suffer? Can a society not be in a position to anticipate risks and avert them, or at least reduce their impact through mitigation? Can the vulnerable populations not move, or be moved, to safer locations in time?

Shall a natural phenomenon always lead to a humanitarian catastrophe in Pakistan?
The answer to all these questions is that very clear. Everything can be done. Embankments of water courses can be strengthened and populations can be mobilized to save themselves from death and destruction. Low cost and indigenous early warning systems can be established to share life-saving information in time. Risks can be accurately anticipated and preparations can be made to safeguard lives and properties.

Majority of the countries in the developed and most of the developing countries have been able to successfully reduce impact of the natural phenomenon, through better preparations and organized responses.

One such, recent, example is that of Japan, the island country that was hit by a 9.0 magnitude tremor in the month of January 2011. The earthquake was so huge that it shook most of the country. Sky-scrappers in Tokyo and other cities shook for several minutes, but did not fall. Had it not been for the earthquake resilient building codes of Japan, millions of people may have perished and hundreds of thousands of buildings may have been razed to the land. The massive earthquake caused a catastrophic Tsunami in the Pacific Ocean which lashed on the Coastal areas of Japan, destroying huge swathes of land. The number of people who perished in these two huge disasters was around 18,000. Had the tremor not caused the huge Tsunami, the death toll could have been significantly lower.

On the other hand, the October 8 earthquake in Kashmir, which was significantly lower (7.6) in magnitude than Japan (9.0), led to the death of more than 88,000 people and completely destroyed hundreds of villages and several cities, like Balakot, Muzaffarabad and Mansehra. Roads, residential and commercial buildings, including one in Islamabad, government offices and other public infrastructure were leveled to the ground, crushing thousands of people to death, including at least 17,000 children, who died inside their poorly built and maintained schools.

The huge difference in scale of impact, despite of the greater intensity earthquake in Japan, shall sever as an eye-opener for those who tend to hold nature responsible for the destructions caused by geo-meteorological and other natural hazards.

We need to understand that through better preparedness and robust response, the impact of almost every natural hazard can be significantly reduced. This understanding and realization, as well as the level of preparedness and alertness, will have to be developed at schools, colleges and universities.

Inclusion of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) related courses in our syllabus is imperative for inculcation of disaster resilience in our national psyche. Also, the government, civil society organizations and corporations shall join hands to popularize international DRR related themes and movements in Pakistan. Through active participation in DRR related activities, our children and youth may be able to be part of the solution, instead of just being mere sympathizers or onlookers.

Neither shall we always feel vulnerable to natural forces, and nor shall we just blame nature for the destruction that befalls us every now and then. Most of the time, we are victims of our own negligence.
Source: Maati.TV


    اگر ممکن ہے تو اپنا تبصرہ تحریر کریں

    اہم اطلاع :- غیر متعلق,غیر اخلاقی اور ذاتیات پر مبنی تبصرہ سے پرہیز کیجئے, مصنف ایسا تبصرہ حذف کرنے کا حق رکھتا ہے نیز مصنف کا مبصر کی رائے سے متفق ہونا ضروری نہیں۔

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