Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hope for a Green District

After the 2005 earthquake in northern parts of Pakistan that killed approximately 73,000 innocent people, the government of Pakistan came up with the National Disaster Management Ordinance 2006. Under the ordinance, the government established Disaster Management Authorities at federal, provincial and district level to work for disaster management in the country. The government started a pilot programme in District Mansehra and established District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA). According to the studies, there are major fault lines in this region, making the area highly vulnerable to earthquake and other natural calamities such as landslides, flash floods due to deforestation and extreme weather.

Despite of these vulnerabilities, District Mansehra is one of the most beautiful spot in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and has always attracted local tourism. It has plenty of natural forests- the major part of existing 4.7% forest cover of the country. Major water sheds, beauty of Saif-ul-Muluk Lake, Siran and Kunhar rivers and number of other lush green hill spots have always attracted people from across the country and abroad who visit here, specially in summer season.

Currently we are implementing a project in World Vision Pakistan, “Strengthening Community Resilience in Siran valley”. It intends to strengthen community resilience against natural disaster through improved knowledge and skills of community on Disaster Risk Reduction and Coordination with DDMA. With the increasing impact of Climate Change and frequent numbers of natural disasters happening in the area, I got the opportunity to talk to the authorities of DDMA. Our theme of the discussion was totally different this time. So I suggested;

“Why not to go for Green District?” Let’s our District Government work for it”

Unlike the bureaucratic style of government, I was happy to see the encouraging responses from the focal person of DDMA Mr. Hareer Shah and Executive District Officer- Social Welfare and Community Development, Mr. Abdul Rasheed. They were quite interested to know about our campaign against Climate Change and the global efforts in this regard being led by honorable Al Gore. We talked about the impacts of Climate Change; changing monsoon and weather pattern, food insecurity and increasing disasters in our region. And we talked about how we are building connectors’ community in our campaign.

The outcome of this discussion was more than encouraging to me. The officials have offered to arrange a consultative meeting of District Disaster Management Authority with the surety of participation from District Coordination Officer and all the members of DMMA (executives from district line departments). We have planned to deliver a presentation on Climate Change to DDMA on 16th March, 2010 and will be formally offering the District Government to work for “Green District”.

My plan will be to advocate authorities and mobilize them to review the District’ annual development plan, initiate efforts for action planning and mobilizing resource for Climate Change adaptation in District Mansehra. Lets see how the administration take the idea of Green District to pilot it.

I am looking forward for the day with the hope for a good start.

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