ActionAid is a global movement of people working together to further human rights and defeat poverty for all.

Government urged to revise National Disaster Management Act

To mark 2nd anniversary of Floods 2010 & 2011, ActionAid Pakistan held different events at area offices and country office level. Apart from two People's Assemblies held in Lahore and Karachi, ActionAid held a Policy Dialogue on Rebuilding Lives-Post Floods 2010 & 2011. The event was attended by all stakeholders including the flood affectees, the civil society, media, the parliamentarians and Chairman NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority).

The government needs to revisit National Disaster Management Act 2010 to make it more comprehensive and gender responsive with appropriate financial allocations and state-of-the-art institutional disaster management structure at all administrative levels.

 The demand came out at a ‘Policy Dialogue on Rebuilding Lives-Post Floods 2010 and 2011’, organised by ActionAid on Thursday to commemorate second anniversary of floods that wreaked havoc in the country.

Outlining the basic features of future Disaster Management Policy, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Dr. Zafar Iqbal Qadir said that the NDMA has undergone a paradigm shift focusing on human rights based approach while central to it are women rights.

He said that in future, shelter, land and livelihood support would solely be extended to women, adding that gender mainstreaming has become the priority area of work for the NDMA.

 He said that the NDMA had shifted its focus from response to emergency preparedness. Similarly it has also transformed itself from a military institution into a civilian disaster management authority. He emphasised upon participatory decision-making process, which NDMA has adopted after the passage of NDM Act 2010. He told the participants that NDMA has started working on multi-hazard assessment of vulnerability and risk for each district of Pakistan.

ActionAid Pakistan Country Director Jamal Ahmad said that the day while “we commemorate the second anniversary of the devastating floods, we pledge and renew our commitment to step up our efforts for the rehabilitation of flood affectees with special reference to women and children. “ ActionAid Advocacy and Research Unit Manager Policy Uzma Tahir while presenting policy demands said that the government should re- distribute land to women, especially landless rural women to fulfil their constitutional right to have access, control and ownership of land.

The government, she said, should ensure the restoration of livelihood through provision of agricultural inputs by introducing a comprehensive agriculture rehabilitation package.

World Food Programme Advisor General (r) Nadeem Ahmad said that he observed “unspeakable” miseries of the flood affectees. He said that the 2010 floods were of highest magnitude, which wrecked havoc in terms of men and material losses in parts of Sindh.

He said that around 58 per cent people in Pakistan were food insecure adding that the floods 2011 further aggravated the situation to an alarming level. He said that former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani had announced a Zero Hunger policy in March 2012, but no further details were available since then.

He said that red tapism was one of the biggest hurdles to move things forward during the devastated floods. He pointed out that there is an acute malnutrition among Pakistani children, which needs to be addressed without further delay.

Representative of Institute of Social and Polices Studies (ISAPS) Rabia Shabir presented key findings of technical review of NDM Act 2010. She said that Pakistan was a disaster prone country. She said that Civil Defense Organisation should be given more funds to meet disaster. She pointed out available funds were not being utilized properly because of lack of accountability.

A landless woman farmer and a flood affecttee from Kot Addu, Lal Mai said, “The floods washed away our belongings and livestock, which was a sole source of our income. We demand of the government to give us land so that we can better reap the fruits of our hard work in the field.”

Engineer Federal Flood Commission (FFC) Athar Hameed said that a countrywide monitoring of flood works was conducted twice by FFC during Financial Year (2011-12), despite limited resources. He said that work on Preparation of Comprehensive Flood Management Plan for next 10 years (based on integrated and innovative approach) had been initiated through World Bank funded Water Sector Capacity Building and Advisory Services Project (WCAP).

Editors' notes

Policy Dialogue on Rebuilding Lives-Post Floods 2010 & 2011 was a milestone achievemet as it ensured an interactive interface among all key stakeholders. Flood affectees from all parts of the country had a real time chance to make the government institutions, parliamentarians and the decison makers responsible for their acts. NDMA Chairman responded to participants' queries in a splendid way and pledged to them that in future NDMA would prioritize women in its emerergency response.