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Rescue 1122 service soon to begin in Sindh

11 January, 2014

KARACHI: Sindh Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) will soon initiate Rescue 1122 service in the province.

The pilot project in this regard, would be initiated in a couple of districts, said an official of the PDMA here on Friday.

Ajay Kumar, an Assistant Director at Sindh PDMA was speaking at a seminar on "Revisiting Disaster Response Interventions (2010-2013): Towards a Future Course" organised by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER).

He said the PDMA was preparing a contingency plan for the province. He said the Rescue 1122 service was effectively working in other provinces. The PDMA official pointed out that the government was establishing 10 warehouses in 10 districts of Sindh, while the work on two such warehouses was underway.

The other speakers included Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) CEO Naseer Memon, Hisar Foundation's Dr Sono Khangharani; PILER Executive Director Karamat Ali and Oxfam (GB) Dr Manzoor Awan.

The speakers underlined the need for community and civil society mobilisation on provision of basic rights and facilities to the people. They expressed their dissatisfaction regarding the prevailing conditions for vulnerable sections in the society, who were affected by natural and man-made disasters both. "This vulnerable section was further marginalised after a disaster, since they also lose their resources and livelihoods because of an absence of any support mechanism," the speakers said.

SPO's Naseer Memon regretted that during disasters, the government does not pay attention to solving people's problems. For example, he said after last year's earthquake in Awaran Balochistan, the government did not allow both local and foreign NGOs to provide relief to the affected people. Even though Chief Minister of Balochistan allowed the SPO to provide relief to the earthquake affected people, the organisations concerned did not issue the NOC for this purpose.

However, he said, "Religious outfits were allowed to operate freely, without any restrictions and also given the NOCs without any questions asked." He said a disaster itself was not a serious challenge, but it often became a political matter in Pakistan.

Agreeing about the limited capacity of the civil society, he said that during 2010 and 2011 disasters, when about 20 million went homeless, the civil society played an important role in provision of relief and rescue to the victims.

He regretted that the donor funded NGOs have damaged the image of the civil society a lot. He emphasised that only advocacy was the tool left for the civil society to raise the issues of the poor and vulnerable.

In Pakistan, he opined a severely flawed engineering model was being practiced. In 2010 floods, all the buildings collapsed which were built after 1947, while the ones built earlier withstood the disaster.

He underlined the need that the disaster management should be made part of the South Asian regional level agenda.

Karamat Ali of PILER said the budget was spent on purchasing arms and ammunitions and the government sought the IMF loan without any prior discussion in the parliament. "There is a law which binds the government to seek approval of National Assembly as well as provincial assemblies before acquiring a loan," he said, adding this time the government has acquired a $6 billion loan without any discussion in the parliament.

Inequalities in the society are increasing in Pakistan because influential and wealthy people are sitting in the parliament.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Sono Khangharani of Hisar Foundation said during 1960s, health department overcame the challenge of smallpox, but polio was still a challenge.

Dr Manzoor Ahmed said before 2005 earthquake there was no disaster management body. In 2007 though a disaster management authority was created, it was not until 2009 that it was notified, following which provincial bodies were established. However, he said even though now we there were district level authorities (DDMA), none of this was affective due to a lack of local government.

End.

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