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March 28, 2013

Pakistan Approves a National Disaster Management Plan

Pakistan is one of the world’s most disaster-prone nations.

A 2005 earthquake killed an estimated 75,000 persons, almost four times the number of victims of Japan’s own 2011 tremor. Floods, cyclones, droughts and landslides devastate this land of 180 million people with alarming regularity.

photoResidents under training for disaster prevention conducted as part of the project

Japan has consistently helped Pakistan with emergency assistance following repeated natural disasters, but for longer term results has now helped to develop the country’s first ever National Disaster Management Plan which was officially adopted earlier this year.

Recognizing its vulnerability, Pakistan had earlier created a National Disaster Management Ordinance and a National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in 2007.

But recognizing the need to strengthen and expand its existing infrastructure, government authorities and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) began a project to develop a countrywide Disaster Management Plan, incorporating many of the lessons of previous prevention activities both in Pakistan and Japan itself, another nation prone to natural catastrophes.

photoAhmed Kamal (center) with National Disaster Management Authority explains the National Disaster Management Plan

A recent report by the Asian Water Development Outlook underlined the urgency of the project when it gave Pakistan the lowest rating in the region on its ability to handle water-related disasters.

Although the National Disaster Management Plan was ready for approval by National Disaster Management Commission (NDMC) chaired by Prime Minister of Pakistan in September 2012, it was shelved due to sudden changes in political weather in Pakistan. However, NDMC was convened in February and approved the plan.

Having worked with JICA on an earlier flood risk management program in the Lai Nullah Basin, Pakistani official Ahmed Kamal, a key player in formulating the plan, noted: “Flood damage was dramatically reduced in the Lai Nullah Basin. I knew a disaster prevention plan could be also developed with support of JICA to reduce the impact in other disaster-prone areas.”


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