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Preparedness, awareness key in disaster prone areas of AJK: Masood Khan

Islamabad:    (Parliament Times)     President Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan has said that there was a dire need to constantly revise and update disaster preparedness and risk mitigation plans in disaster-prone areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir to ensure the best response to unforeseen calamities.

The President made these comments while speaking to a delegation led by Brigadier (retd.) Faiz Hussain Shah, Senior Capacity Building Specialist National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM). The delegation included Mr. Waseem Ahmed, Capacity Building Specialist NIDM and Ms. Zahra Hassan, GIS Officer at the National Disaster Management Authority.

President AJK while speaking to the delegation said that during the recent flash flood in Leswa, Neelum, due to a cloud-burst extensive rescue and relief operations were successfully undertaken by the District Administration, the Pakistan Army, the AJK-Red Crescent and the State Disaster Management Authority.

He said that rescue operations were a challenging task in Leswa due to lack of access to the affected areas and a total breakdown of communication channels. He said that despite numerous challenges immediate relief was provided to the locals. He said there is always room for improvement and the AJK Government will continue exploring ways to mitigate the loss of human life and o property occurring due to natural catastrophes.

The President said that there is a need to develop ‘early warning systems’ engineered according to local challenges which may include battery-operated or solar-charged megaphones and sirens to help alert people in cases of impending danger.

President Masood Khan said that people in disaster-prone areas must be provided basic awareness related to precautionary measures that can be taken for their safety. The key, he said, was to instilling the message by the repetition of essential concepts and also conducting multiple drills simulating disaster scenarios.

He said that it is pertinent to engage first responders including volunteers, district administration and SDMA officials and people from similar organizations by helping train them in creating awareness relating to disaster management and also relating to rescue and relief activities.

Brigadier (retd.) Fiaz apprised the President of NIDM’s plans to introduce training sessions and workshops at AJK public-sector universities. He said, in the beginning, their interactions will focus on creating awareness about disaster management practices and later on measures will be taken to help introduce Disaster Management courses at under-graduate and post-graduate levels. He said that they hope to foster linkages and build partnerships with national and international academic institutions and develop a network of disaster management professionals and master trainers working in various disciplines in the country and abroad.

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