President ECOSF participated in the Panel Discussion on Water-related Disasters and Hydrological Changes organized by UNESCO Islamabad on 15 December 2017

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A Panel Discussion on Water-related Disasters and Hydrological Changes was organized by the UNESCO Islamabad on 15 December 2017 in Islamabad. The Purpose of the panel discussion was to provide intellectual input and thematic guidance for stakeholders to understand the present situation and make knowledgeable decision on how to address the water-related hazards in Pakistan. The event also marked the launch of “Multi-Hazard Early Warning Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)” developed by UNESCO Islamabad. Thematic areas of the panel discussions included floods, droughts, tsunamis, glaciers outburst floods and cyclones. On behalf of ECOSF, President ECOSF Professor Dr. Manzoor H. Soomro along with Engr. Khalil Raza Scientific Officer participated in the event. The event attracted a number of participants from diverse backgrounds representing the government agencies, academia, disaster risk management professionals and development professionals.

Ms. Vebeke Jensen Director, UNESCO Islamabad welcomed all the panelists and participants to the panel discussion. Ms. Jensen expressed that natural disasters, particularly water related disasters have a huge impact on social and economic welfare in Pakistan. She called for developing a well designed natural disaster management strategy for Pakistan in the backdrop of the recent severe natural calamities that have caused loss of billions of dollar to Pakistani economy. She stressed over development of effective early warning practices in the country and there is a need to link all stakeholders in a coherent manner. Ms. Jensen shared that the SOPs for Multi Hazard Early Warning System has been developed on current practices and aims to support the capacity building of relevant authorities involved in disaster situations and provide the road map for future interventions.

The Panelists included: 

  1. Sarosh Hasmat Lodhi, Vice Chancellor NED UET Karachi.
  2. Ahmed Kamal, Chairman Federal Flood Commission
  3. Ashfaq Ahmed Sheikh, Director General Pakistan Council for Research in Water Resources.
  4. Muhammad Hanif, Chief Meteorologist, Pakistan Meteorology Department
  5. Dr. Zia Hashmi Head Water Resources and Glaciology Section GCISC.

Major takeaways of the Panel Discussion are as follows:

Mr. Ahmad Kamal said the Government of Pakistan (GoP) is in the process of developing Integrated Flood Management Plan. Mr. Kamal said that when formulating a Flood Policy, we need to take a more holistic view of the floods, one that goes beyond looking at the immediate misery that floods can cause. We need to move away from flawed strategies of “flood control” to more practical and achievable strategies of “Flood Risk Management”, he said. The Integrated Flood Management Plan would provide a framework whereby flood management in the country can be improved through necessary institutional and legal reforms.

Dr. Sarosh Hasmat Lodhi emphasized over effective Tsunami Disaster Risk Management and people need to be aware of, particularly those living in coastal areas around the Arabian sea. The eastern part of the Makran mega thrust in Pakistan has the potential to produce large earthquakes. Dr. Lodhi said there is a need to develop adequate preparedness measures and people need to be aware of Tsunamis, particularly those living in coastal areas around the Arabian Sea. Dr. Lodhi shared that an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.1 off the coast of western Pakistan in 1945 caused a tsunami that killed about 300 people along the coasts of Pakistan.

Dr. Ashfaq Ahmed Sheikh presented his talk on “Development of Effective Strategies for Drought Mitigation in Pakistan”. Pakistan is predominantly arid with low rainfall and higher solar radiation over most parts of the country, he said. Pakistan is basically an Agricultural country and its economy is mainly agrarian. While, water is one of the most limiting constraints for agricultural production in Pakistan. Dr. Sheikh proposed his recommendations for developing the reservoirs to store water during the rainy seasons. Whereas, areas vulnerable to draughts should be linked with main aquifers through canal-links. He affirmed that droughts can be predicted very accurately if early-warnings are reliable and fully authentic, and Pakistan Meteorological Department needs to be strengthened to achieve self-sufficiency in this area.

Dr. Muhammad Hanif delivered his talk on Tropical Cyclones in Pakistan. Dr. Hanif said that it is possible to make forecasts about development of tropical cyclones in Pakistan. He said that the predictability of coastal rainfall by ensemble prediction system (EPS) could provide best estimate about occurring of any Tropical Cyclone activity. He further said that multi-model ensemble system has the potential to predict the sea surface temperatures of the Arabian Sea.

Dr. Zia Hashmi delivered his talk on “Water Resources and Glaciology in Pakistan”. Dr. Hashmi said that Pakistan is consistently among the top ten countries most affected by climate change. The Indus River System which is the lifeline of Pakistan's society and economy, depends critically on glacial and snowmelt from the Himalya Korakorum and Hindukush system. Dr. Hashmi expressed his sever concerns over the climate change impact in Pakistan, which has already led to a recession of some of the HKH glaciers, and although some others are stable or even appear to have increased in mass, future projections present a rather bleak picture.

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