Wednesday November 30, 2022

Use of ‘G-Governance’ to manage natural disasters stressed

October 03, 2022

Islamabad : Pakistan has sufficient access to satellite data, imagery, and indigenous research that can immensely help in pre- and post-management of natural disasters like floods. However, as pointed out by experts, most of the space technology resources remain underutilised due to poor governance, lack of funds, and the disinterest of the related institutions and decision-makers.

This was observed by experts during a roundtable session on ‘Pakistan Recent Floods from Space: Technology Perspective,’ at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) here. According to climatologist Dr Ibrarul Hasan Akhtar, despite having free access to five satellites whereby flooding can be aptly monitored through daily space statistics on rainfall, flood inundation, flood damages, ground data collection analysis, etc., Pakistan lacks timely decision-making.

In this regard, the absence of readily available land data, necessary for the integration of satellite and ground data, is the major issue in Pakistan. Consequently, the decision-makers are not given timely information, giving rise to time lag and issues of quality, availability, and sharing.

He also highlighted the absence of dovetailing the information in government’s decision-making to be a major missing element, as the information shared by research-based institutions is mostly ignored. Former climate change secretary Syed Akif opined that unless the pattern of governance is changed, there will remain a knowing-doing gap, and incapability to turn knowledge into performance, in related institutions, like the Ministry of Climate Change and National Disaster Management Authority, which also lack resources, workforce, and funds.

While endorsing the lack of governance and knowing-doing gap, Dr Muhammad Irfan Khan of the International Islamic University Islamabad said natural disasters couldn't be mitigated effectively without properly utilizing the data and bridging the gap between research and policy.

Senior research fellow at the National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA) stressed the utilization of indigenous resources and available data to create future resilience and adaptation. He recommended that instead of waiting for climate funding from developed nations, Pakistan indigenously build its capacity to implement the data and research under the right governance. Dr Kamran Azam of the University of Haripur underscored the nation’s need to find indigenous resources, ways, and methods to protect itself from the vagaries of climate change by building resilient structures and lifestyles. Even though Pakistan is a victim of climate change, triggered by the 15 most prosperous nations, it can’t stop its manifestations, like the glacial melting. He, however, said with timely actions and the utilisation of technology, such as early warning systems, things can be made better.