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Pakistan enhances disaster management system

Islamabad, Pakistan: The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) claimed that the existing integrated early warning system now can evaluate and communicate information in better way in time to all stakeholders in case of flooding or even tsunami threat in the Indian Ocean.

Zahid Rafi, principal seismologist and director of the National Seismic Monitoring Centre of PMD, said the recent mock tsunami alert exercise jointly carried out in 23 countries has greatly helped test the existing tsunami alert system as well as local flood early warning system. He said that UNESCO has helped develop a national tsunami centre, strengthen operational 24X7 national warnings services through the National Meteorological Services as part of multi-hazard approach to national warning system, prepare warning response plan for coastal regions, assess environmental flashpoints at sub-national level for use in preparedness and spatial planning and disaster risk reduction and finalise intermediate and long-term plan for sustainable tsunami warning and response system.

Zahid Rafi said the newly launched Regional Tsunami Service System (designed in Germany) and successful mock exercise has established the fact that countries along with the Indian Ocean now have a separate tsunami alert system other than the similar systems being operated on Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

Referring to a report by Judicial Flood Commission (JFC) he said they have started modernising and strengthening their forecasting and warning services that included automation of surface observing systems and real-time data acquisition, radars and radio systems for weather monitoring, automation of weather data analysis, weather and precipitation monitoring using the earth satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) facilities. He added that they are working on remote-sensing based climate and flood warning technology that would help upgrade flood management and build the capacity of PMD and other agencies responsible for flood forecasting, early warning and management at the national, provincial and district levels.

It is pertinent to mention here that Dr. Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry, former director general of the PMD, in his report, mentioned the fact that the experiences of the Indian Ocean tsunami, the hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and many other recent events such as heat waves, droughts, famine, wildfires, floods and mudflows, point to significant inadequacies in existing early warning systems.

“In many cases, especially in developing countries like Pakistan, warning systems lack the basic capacities of equipment, skills, and resources. Among both developed and developing nations, the weakest element is the warning dissemination and preparedness to act. Warnings may fail due to inadequate political commitment, weak coordination among the various actors, and lack of public awareness and public participation in development and operation of early warning systems,” the report said.

Source: The News