WWF – Pakistan highlights the urgent need for improved governance and management of water resources for minimizing the impact of floods; supports local communities with relief and rescue efforts
4th August, 2010
Lahore: WWF – Pakistan has urged the need for improved governance and management of water resources for minimizing the ravaging effects of the recent floods. The floods have not only caused damage to human life, which totals around 1,400 deaths so far and displacement of more than 3.2 million people, but also the loss of precious agriculture land, infrastructure and wildlife habitat. The situation has been further aggravated by monsoon rains that will continue to fall for the next two weeks, according to the Meteorological Department.
The death toll is expected to increase due to vulnerability of the flood victims to water borne diseases. In this grave time of need, various programmes and projects of WWF – Pakistan have initiated rescue and relief efforts for the victims of the flood to support the army and local government. As one of the most active initiatives, the Pakistan Wetlands Programme’s Central Indus Wetlands Team, that is now based near Kot Addu mobilised Programme and local resources into a proto-team equipped with eight motorised boats to rescue 1,387 stranded people from riverbank and island villages. To achieve this, they leaned heavily on the Programme’s good working relationship with Wetlands Conservation Committee and communicated extensively with village elders to persuade community members to leave their properties in the face of the flood and seek safety. The Gilgit and Karachi offices of WWF – Pakistan are also interacting heavily with local communities and training them in first aid and rescue techniques so that they may be able to help themselves and create further local awareness
The need of the hour is to have a pertinent flood forecasting and management strategy in place, as well as effective management of watershed and catchment areas. Proper management of the existing reservoirs can truly counter the devastation caused by floods. According to experts affiliated with WWF – Pakistan, there is a need for scientifically assessing the need to have small and check dams on the river Indus and its tributaries, and to raise the capacity for additional water storage. The other issue is related to governance and settlement. Most of the areas on the flood plains of the rivers were inundated by floodwater. The authorities must be compelled to counter encroachments in sensitive areas such as these and have better planning with regards to storm water drains, reservoir operations and management.
Hammad Naqi Khan, Director Programmes at WWF – Pakistan regarded the situation as disappointing and stated the need for better coordination between federal, provincial and local governments. He said, “The entire approach to search and rescue, as well as environmental impacts of this disaster, has been reactive rather than proactive, as in the case of a lot of other areas. Responsibility should be taken by concerned authorities for better cross-departmental cooperation and action should be taken to overcome these difficulties.”
The time is right to approve and implement National Water Policy, which covers the institutional and legal framework to improve the existing water resources and helps support flood management initiatives in the country. Provincial irrigation infrastructure should be the priority task for betterment in water management system and better practices should be adopted so that we can cut our losses and move towards a safer Pakistan for all.
About WWF – Pakistan:
World Wide Fund for Nature - Pakistan was formed in 1970 to address the growing environmental and conservation issues in Pakistan that not only affected the flora and fauna, but were also affecting the human population. WWF – Pakistan is a non-profit organisation, working preserve, conserve and save our environment and natural resources. Today, WWF - Pakistan works through 31 offices with a team of approximately 340 dedicated staff members. We have our Head Office in Lahore, regional offices in Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar, Gilgit, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Quetta, and project offices wherever there is need and the potential to make a difference.
For further information
Hammad Naqi Khan
For media queries:
Nuzhat Saadia Siddiqui
Co-ordinator, Press & Media Relations