ISLAMABAD: On the tenth anniversary of the October 2005 earthquake, a survey report has found that 84 per cent of respondents feel successive governments failed to take any concrete steps in the last decade to reduce disaster impacts.
This was observed at the Wednesday launch of the preliminary findings of a study on disaster management and governance, conducted by Pattan, a local non-governmental organisation. The devastating earthquake in Kashmir left over 3.5 million homeless and around 87,000 dead.
Technical experts, human rights advocates and representatives from areas affected by floods and earthquakes shared their concerns at the event. They asked for fair and timely allocation of resources and an improved local government system.
Pattan National Coordinator Sarwar Bari, while sharing findings of the report, said that in terms of construction and rebuilding process, 56 per cent of people expressed dissatisfaction with the houses built after the earthquake, while 34 per cent said the structures were better.
Around 65 per cent of respondents said they did not rebuild houses according to the designs provided by Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority (Erra), due to the exhaustive procedures.
Bari said the media and government usually see disasters as natural phenomena, but while flooding is a natural event, disasters caused by it are not. He said that from 1978 to 2015, Rs27.9 billion had been spent nationwide on flood protection schemes.
The research survey also established that multiple laws and structures at government level caused overlapping lack of coordination and confusion during disasters.
Muhammad Sadiq a resident of Balakot told the audience that even 10 years after the earthquake, “our children are still forced to take classes in the open”.
“Around 5,500 families were allotted plots in the new Balakot city, which are useless due to red tape,” he said.
“We need to see a detailed audit report on the money donated to the government after the earthquake,” he said.
Tahir Pervaiz, a former economist, said global studies had repeatedly proven that any reconstruction activity done without taking the needs of local communities on board would eventually fail.
“Proactive participation of local communities is vital to successful disaster-reduction policies and practices,” NDMA official Ahmed Kamal said.
He said NDMA would launch three programmes this month — multi-vulnerability risk assessment, community-based risk management plan at union council level and mass awareness programme.
The study involved structured interviews of 1,406 people across 98 villages and focus group discussions with government officials, non-government organisations representatives, media persons and academics. Pattan was unable to conduct the survey in Muzaffarabad as they were asked to leave by intelligence agencies.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2015.