Nature, the nurturing and kind entity that we depend on for our sustenance, when shifts to malevolence, births phenomena which are hazardous to humans. These natural hazards become disasters without any plan of action to prepare for their eventual arrival. The magnitude of devastation caused by these events cannot be contained but begs the question of what we can do about it. The answer to that question could not have been answered individually and a framework was required. To that effect, the United Nations specified a day to be observed as a Disaster Risk Reduction day in 1989. A dedicated secretariat to facilitate the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) was established in 1999. October 13 was specified after a call by the United Nations General Assembly to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction. The day is a celebration of resilience and how people and communities around the world are minimizing their exposure to disasters and raising awareness.
Where do we stand?United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) is the culmination of our fight against these hazards. The mandate maintained by the organisation is that there is no such thing as a ‘natural disaster’, only natural hazards. The scale of a disaster depends on how much impact a hazard has on society and the environment. To reduce the risk posed by these hazards, we need to minimize our exposure to the hazard, lessen the vulnerability of people and property, wise management of land and the environment, and improved preparedness and early warning for an adverse event.
UNDRR has coordinated with foremost consultants and has provided a framework to enhance resilience and awareness. The Sendai Framework is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement according to which the state is at the forefront to reduce the disaster risk but this responsibility is to be shared with local government, private sector and other stakeholders. It aims for substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries.
Pakistan and disaster risk:Pakistan has faced many disasters and is very vulnerable to these hazards. Pakistan ranks seventh on the Global Climate Risk Index of countries which are most affected by climate change from 1996 to 2015. Pakistan has seen a range of disasters in the past decade which affected over 50 million people, incurred US$25.5 billion in damages and caused 80,708 fatalities.
The Government of Pakistan in 2019 published a plan called ‘The National Disaster Response Plan’ which outlines the guidelines for managing and responding to such hazards and to stop them from evolving into disasters.
The plan has been formed by taking in considerations from the 2010 disasters. The plan aligns with previous disaster management plans and the Sendai Framework. The plan seeks to increase the ability of the country in the management of disasters and a comprehensive national approach. It aims to facilitate efficient coordination from multi-level agencies.
Pakistan has faced adversities in a higher frequency in the last two decades. The government has tried to adopt policies that increase the resilience of the infrastructure but there are obvious lapses present as well. The need to spread awareness and resilience is an everyday struggle. International days provide an effective opportunity in this regard. The importance of UNDRR day is apparent by the frameworks it has produced and changes it has brought around the world. The climate is changing for the worse by every year and the need to cope with the hazards that climate change brings is appropriately highlighted by such observances.
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