"When planning for a year, plant corn. When planning for a decade, plant trees. When planning for life, train and educate people."
Pakistan is vulnerable to disaster risks from a range of hazards including avalanches, cyclones/storms, droughts, earthquakes, epidemics, floods, glacial lake outbursts, landslides, pest attacks, river erosion and tsunami. Human induced hazards that threaten the country include transport, industrial, oil spills, urban and forest fires, civil conflicts and internal displacements of communities due to multiple factors. High priority hazards in terms of their frequency and scale of impact are:- earthquakes, droughts, flooding, Wind Storms and Landslides that have caused widespread damages and losses in the past.
A reactive, emergency response approach has remained the predominant way of dealing with disasters in Pakistan till now. The Calamity Act of 1958 was mainly concerned with organizing emergency response. A system of relief commissionrate at provincial level was established. An Emergency Relief Cell (ERC) in the Cabinet Secretariat was responsible for organizing disaster response by the federal government. The awareness of policy makers, media, civil society, NGOs, UN agencies and other stakeholders remained low about disaster risk management and the Country as a whole lacked a systematic approach towards disaster risk management.
The loss of life and property and the challenges that were faced in the aftermath of October 2005 earthquake affecting Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the NWFP province exhibited the need for establishing appropriate policy and institutional arrangements to reduce losses from disasters in future.
The need for strong institutional and policy arrangements has been fulfilled with the promulgation of National Disaster Management Ordinance, 2006. Under the Ordinance the National Disaster Management Commission (NDMC) has been established under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister as the highest policy making body in the field of disaster management. As an executive arm of the NDMC, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has been made operational to coordinate and monitor implementation of National Policies and Strategies on disaster management.
The new system envisages a devolved and de-centralized mechanism for disaster management. Accordingly, Provincial Disaster Management Commissions (PDMCs) and Authorities (PDMAs) have been established while similar arrangements have been made in AJ&K and Northern Areas. The District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMAs) have been notified across the country. The DDMAs are going to be the linchpin of the whole system and would play the role of the first line of defense in the event of a disaster.
The National Disaster risk Management Framework has been formulated to guide the work of entire system in the area of disaster risk management. It has been developed through wide consultation with stakeholders from local, provincial and national levels. The Framework identifies National Strategies and Policies for disaster management. Nine priority areas have been identified within this framework to establish and strengthen policies, institutions and capacities over the next five years: These include:-