Need community-led strategy to identify vulnerabilities for effective disaster management : Speakers

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MUZAFFARABAD,  (Parliament Times) : Speakers at a seminar emphasized the need for a coherent grassroots community-led strategy to identify vulnerabilities and develop an action plan for effective disaster management and risk reduction.
The seminar titled “Earthquake Awareness and Preparedness” was jointly organized by the Institute of Geology and Directorate of Students Affairs, University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (UAJK) in connection with the 17th anniversary of the devastating earthquake of October 8, 2005.
Speakers called for an inclusive capacity-building program for the service providers, sustained awareness campaigns on Disaster Risk Management (DRM), and the establishment of multilayered disaster response teams backed by emergency response centers at the gross root level.
Addressing the seminar as chief guest, the Chief Secretary AJK government Dr. Muhammad Usman Chacher said that no country in the world is immune to disasters and such events do not respect any border, religion, or origin.
“I can proudly say that today, the state government and the state disaster management authority (SDMA) are now in a much better position to deal with any disaster-like situation,” the CS added.
Dr. Chacher underlined the need for the capacity building of the organizations directly or indirectly dealing with catastrophes.
He said it was after the devastating earthquake in 2005 that the importance and need for robust and effective disaster management and disaster risk reduction were truly realized. “The calamity was taken as a wake-up call that led to the establishment of a comprehensive disaster risk management system in the country”, CS said.
Referring to the recent flash flood in the country, the Chief Secretary said that we are facing a cascade of accelerated climate events with great frequency, and with this challenging phenomenon; we confront extreme weather events as a new normal in the region.
Dr. Chacher further said that such a situation merits timely preparation by all the actors and the academic role of being the expert and the professional was very crucial.
He appreciated the University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir for holding a seminar on such an important topic and thanked the guest speakers for enlightening the audience on this very core issue of concern.
The Chief Secretary expressed his hope that the outcomes of the workshop would be fruitful and recommendations may enable the government and other relevant agencies to devise a comprehensive mechanism to safeguard the people of the region and their properties.
Addressing the occasion, the Vice Chancellor Professor Dr. Muhammad Kaleem Abbasi highlighted that random and unscientific construction patterns and tremendous increase in population since the last major earthquake combined with a warning level of seismic hazard and high liquefaction potential index leads to the insecure future of the region.
He said with the profound degree of hazard imposed by future earthquakes in the Kashmir valley, the lack of proper disaster mitigation measures increases the level of hazard.
“The region is also a politically conflicted zone where resolution of the political issues is considered more important than disaster preparedness”, he pointed out.
Dr. Abbasi suggested several measures including a Safety audit of buildings in terms of resilience to impending hazards and requirement of retrofitting of critical infrastructure and the strict implementation of building codes.
The Vice-Chancellor called for the constitution of teams for review and effective enforcement of these codes for government, semi-government, corporation, and private residential buildings completed or under construction in urban and rural areas.
He also stressed the need for capacity building of stakeholders, service providers, and first and second-line disaster responders with the backup mechanism.
Dr. Abbasi underlined the need for the introduction of disaster management as a subject school at the college and university level and the conduct of mass awareness programs at block, district, and state levels.
In conclusion of his address, Prof. Dr. Kaleem Abbasi recommended more geological, and geotechnical investigations to document the active near source seismogenic structure which would help formulate safer design decisions.
Prominent speakers include Dr. Kamil Ahmad Qureshi, University of Houston USA, Prof. Dr. Muhammad Rustam Khan Institute of Geology UAJK, Dr. Wahid Abbas, COMSATS University Islamabad, Dr. Farhan Javid National Center of Physics Islamabad, Muhammad Shahid Ayub Secretary State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), Mr. Mushtaq Pirzada Director Land Use Planning and others.
Deans faculties, Principal Officers, Faculty members, and Students attended the event.

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