Chitral, October 13th, 2020: In order to prepare the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for rapid disaster recovery and response, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) arranged a hand over ceremony for District Emergency Response Cell (DERC) equipment to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Disaster Management Authority (KPDMA). The ceremony was held under UNDP’s Scaling Up of Glacial Lake Outburst Flood Risk Reduction in Northern Pakistan (GLOF II) project, under the auspices of the Special Assistance to Prime Minister on Climate Change, Mr. Malik Amin Aslam. Attendees of the events also included National Project Director GLOF II/ Additional Secretary Ministry of Climate Change, Mr. Joudat Ayaz, representatives of Government Line Department, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan and GLOF-II project team members.
GLOF-II project, a joint initiative of the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) and UNDP, aims to equip Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for streamlining the communication system between KPDMA and District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMAs) for any unforeseen disaster situations. The DERC equipment was formally handed over to Mohammad Ayaz, the Director-General Rescue 1122, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Disaster Management Authority (KPDMA).
Mr. Malik Amin Aslam thanked all the stakeholders of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for their keen interest in GLOF-II project interventions. He further mentioned that he had personally visited most of the vulnerable project areas and met both direct and indirect beneficiaries. He emphasized that the project can play a vital role in minimizing the risk from Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) as Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries to Climate Change impact and Chitral being one of the most affected areas to the increasing temperatures. He explained that the project is spending a total of approximately PKR six billion in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). The project will benefit 24 valleys of KP and GB.
He touched upon the recent floods at Golain, where no lives were lost due to timely intervention and awareness raising by the project. He also mentioned that through the GLOF-II project, each vulnerable community will receive a revolving fund of USD 50,000 in order to respond to any unforeseen Climate change induced disaster.
Mr. Malik Amin Aslam further stated that: “I am optimistic that the DERC equipment will strengthen the capacities of KPDMA at District level to deal with any disaster situation with full enhanced efficiency.
To mark the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction the project further conducted a seminar at the University of Chitral along with a plantation drive under the Adopt a Tree initiative and mock drill by Rescue 1122. The seminar consisted of various talks on disaster risk reduction from an educational perspective and impacts of disasters on biological species.
Chief Guest Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change spoke at the seminar highlighting Pakistan’s vulnerability to the adverse effects of Climate Change and exposure to natural disasters. He used the example of the occurrence of various GLOF events in the northern regions of Pakistan. Mr. Malik Amin Aslam added that the GLOF-II Project is providing support to communities vulnerable to the effects of climate change through the installation of Early Warning Systems, flood protection infrastructures, and help in increasing the forest land in the area to enable and equip vulnerable communities.
The Special Advisor to Prime Minister highlighted that disasters hit hardest at the local level and said “It is also at the local level that capacities need to be strengthened urgently. The Government of Pakistan is committed to work together with its partners to help address the adverse impacts of climate change. Projects such as GLOF-II are an example of our commitment to enable and equip vulnerable communities.”
To further emphasize on the need for DRM, the GLOF II project conducted a Volunteer Plantation Drive under the Adopt a Tree initiative, in collaboration with University of Chitral. The objective of this campaign is to contribute to environment preservation and reduce the impacts of climate change. The aim is to achieve results by active community participation especially by the youth of the region. Over 100 volunteers and students have been taken on board; for each tree that survives and is in good condition, students will be granted grace marks. This will inculcate healthy competition amongst students and benefit the community likewise.
To end the day, a Mock Drill exercise was conducted by Rescue 1122 to demonstrate relief and rescue to disaster affected people. The purpose of this mock exercise was to test the efficacy of the Disaster Management Plan and master the use of machinery, during a disaster situation, through practicing safety-related measures pertaining to GLOF and other disaster events.