We are not far from the next monsoon season. After the devastation of 2010 and 2011, when Sindh in particular was badly affected, the thought of the coming monsoon season should fill us with trepidation. However, this does not appear to be the case. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) have warned the government that 29 districts of the country may be in danger from serious flooding. However, so far, there is no indication that the government has put in place any plan to combat what could turn out be another catastrophe.
Last year, too, the charity Oxfam had stated that Pakistanís apparent unwillingness to think ahead about such disasters puts its people at great risk. The people of Sindh are still struggling to recover from the destruction caused by the floods. It is quite obvious that emergency measures need to be put in place immediately.
The NDMA and the PMD have suggested that the federal and provincial governments allocate a sum of money to deal with impending floods. But will anyone show the foresight to put such steps in place? In the past, we have treated monsoon rains and other natural calamities as acts of God, which we can do nothing about. It may be true that we cannot stop the rains from falling from the skies, but what can certainly be done is setting up proper measures to guarantee the safety of people, both by issuing early warnings and by organising evacuations in a sensible manner. We already know from past experience how acute the needs are of those who are forced to flee homes. This is the time to prepare for the possibility of flooding. It will not prevent the disaster, but it could go a long way in avoiding the kind of suffering that people endured in the past and may have to do so again if nothing is done in this regard. The government must wake up now rather than twiddle its thumbs and wait for the rains to fall.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2012.
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