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13 December 2019

Climate Change adaptation and disaster risk reduction

Sher Wali, Geographer
Sher Wali regularly writes on Climate Change and Social issues.

Precipitation and temperature are two basic parameters of climate mechanism, hence these two parameters vary, and there would be a change in the global temperature. Climate scientists are of the opinion that the changes within the climate in a time span of 30 years could anticipate climatic change phenomena in a geographic realm. Having an observation of this time scale if we took a glance on our region it is evident that the temperature in our region has significantly changed for last 3o years. although being located in a remote valleys, there is no scientific tools and technology installed to gauge the changes in the temperature, precipitation and over all run off, however visual observations and indigenous knowledge of the locals  suggest that snow line has been shifted to a considerable elevation, melting of glaciers have been accelerated, frequency of flash floods have been increased and snow avalanches decreased, thus these changes have alarmed a rapid climate change process, having a negative impacts on the socio-economic conditions of the people. 

IPCC report (2007) states that due to the increase of global temperature the developing countries would be facing acute challenges as compare to the developed countries. In current century 16 warmest years have been recorded of which 2010 is ranked at the top, following 1998, 2005, 2003 etc. in 2010 Super flood Pakistan badly suffered, according to the WFP Initial Vulnerability Assessment some 10.1 million people were in need of Shelter and humanitarian assistance. In 2010 Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral recorded 104 Flash flood events (FOCUS Pakistan). This is the evident of the climate change phenomenon which stake the region at high risk of these natural hazards, and human being is one of the factors to contribute in this natural phenomenon. The UN has rated the floods in Pakistan as the greatest humanitarian crisis in recent history, with 13.8 million people affected and 1,600 dead. Flooding in China has killed more than 1,100 people this year and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage across 28 provinces and regions. In Russia the morgues are overflowing in Moscow and wildfires are raging in the countryside after the worst heat wave in 130 years.

Pakistan geographically located in a warm climate zone, where the temperature increased is expected to be higher than the average global temperature. About 60% of the area in Pakistan received less than 250mm rain per year, while 24% rain between 250mm to 500mm. If we observe this climate situation it is likely that the rivers which are fed by larger glaciers from Karakuram and HinduKush mountains are in process of rapidly melting which result disasters in shape of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF), Flash flood and landslides. If we look at the current disaster history of Pakistan, the country has encountered multiple disasters which are only caused by the climate change phenomena, which includes coastal flooding, drought, and flash floods. Among these the melting of glacier causing glacial out bursts observed an unprecedented events in northern part of the country. In 2005, 2007, and 2010 Chitral alone experienced Glacial Lake outburst floods from Brep Glacier, Sonoghor Glacier, and Booni Glaciers respectively. Similarly in Gilgit-Baltistan, Glacial lake outburst floods occurred from Passu Glacier, Gulmit Glacier, Gulkin Glacier, Karumber Glacier and Darkot Glacier. Similarly drought in the southern region of Pakistan, and monsoon rains have been increased in recent decade. 

Under Hyogo frame work 2015 (HFA), some key concern areas have been identified to reduce the disaster risks. Capacity building and institutional meanstramng, undertaking mitigation measures and developing effective Early warning systems (EWS), are some of those key areas. Countries which are at high risk of disasters have been emphasized to enhance their capacity to overcome the unprecedented consequences.  

As the frequency of disasters is increasing, and more people and properties are at risk, it is time to exploit the natural resource in a way that we can contribute to reduce the global warming. Effective disaster management measures should be taken, and mass awareness, institutional mainstreaming, and integration of DRR into development are to be ensured at all level.