Islamabad February 23, 2012 (PR):
The second day of the "National Conference on Learning from Disasters" continued with focus on the role of the media towards disaster risk mitigation and preparedness. Chief guest Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the media plays a very important role in impacting the masses but it must play a constructive role and highlight the emergent need for disaster preparedness. She hoped that the national conference has increased awareness among all the stakeholders and participants and the importance of joining hands towards disaster risk mitigation. Dr. Awan concluded by saying that we must move from disasters to development with a positive response and the role of the media was most important in making that possible.
Mr. Jean Luc Siblot, Country Director WFP and Acting Resident Coordinator United Nations Pakistan, concluded the two day national conference by addressing the need of donors, civil societies, NGOs and INGOs to improve their response in various disaster scenarios. He emphasized that it was crucial to join hands with the government and NDMA to implement disaster risk reduction strategies and preparedness.
The guest of honour, Mr. Changez Khan Jamali presented his views on adopting a planned approach on disaster risk mitigation and advised all members to initiate a proactive approach towards tackling future disasters. He also stressed on the importance of climate change and sustainable urbanization and the absence of disaster preparedness for which the support of the donor agencies, civil society, the UN and philanthropists was much needed. He concluded his speech by congratulating NDMA, UN-HABITAT and other supporting partners on the success of the conference and hoped that the lessons learnt would be bring a positive change on disaster risk preparedness.
Chairman NDMA, Dr. Zafar Qadir, while continuing the discussion said that ERRA and NDMA were both on ground realities and could co-exist at a federal level considering their specialized set of expertise. He discussed the National Disaster Management plan for 2012, and the 3-year programme. He also endorsed the need for disaster insurance of communities.
General (Retd.) Nadeem Ahmed, former Deputy Chairman ERRA and former Chairman NDMA who was also a key speaker, stressed on the possibility of NDMA being the lead decision maker and subsuming ERRA for a more functional and efficient disaster resilient nation. He urged to finalize the national disaster management plan and move forward to adopt a more demand driven approach towards the provision of disaster relief.
Brig (Retd.) Pervez H. Niazi, Director General Planning ERRA, emphasized the need for the government to define roles of the disaster and emergency management authorities in Pakistan in order to avoid duplication of efforts and efficient service delivery.
Speaking on the role of media in disaster risk reduction, Dr. Shahid Masood from ARY referred to his own past involvement in covering natural disasters and lauded the efforts of the local media. He attributed the dissemination of accurate information in a timely manner to the media and appreciated the dedication of NDMA despite limited resources. Also present on behalf of the media, Mr. Fahad Hussein emphasized on how powerful the media had become and could reach any destination in a minimal amount of time for reporting. However, he stressed on additional training for them in order to increase efficiency in communication. Shazia Harris, Media Advisor ERRA, stressed upon the need to take the media on board and to have a dedicated media fund for mass awareness in order to avoid loss of human life and risks in the Disaster Management Strategy. Addressing the need for capacity building and training requirements in reconstruction, Dr. Noman Ahmad, Professor NED University, stressed upon the need on incorporating disaster management training as a part of social education.