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Community-based flood early warning: First national-level hands-on training in Pakistan

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Participants at the CBFEWS training. (Photo: WWF-Pakistan)

In collaboration with the Pakistan Meteorological Department, WWF-Pakistan, and Burraq Integrated Solutions, we organized a four-day hands-on training on Community Based Flood Early Warning Systems (CBFEWS) in Islamabad from 9 to 12 November 2021. A total of 50 participants including officials from national and provincial disaster management agencies, community caretakers, and civil society organizations attended the training.

Since 2016, we have organized four regional CBFEWS trainings in Kathmandu. Officials of disaster management agencies in Pakistan, including Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Gilgit Baltistan Disaster Management Authority (GBDMA), Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH), as well as representatives from WWF-Pakistan, and community caretakers of the CBFEWS pilot sites from Gilgit Baltistan attended these trainings. Trainees from the earlier regional level CBFEWS trainings functioned as master trainers during this hands-on training. Further, since CBFEWS is community-based, half the participants were community members. Hence, the training enhanced their capacity to operate, maintain and ensure the sustainability of the systems on the ground.

Delegations from the National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF) comprising five male and 14 female officials also attended the training. The trainers briefed them about the four-step CBFEWS approach and the operation of the equipment. The NDRMF through AKAH and BIS has out scaled this CBFEWS model to five sites in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. Of these, three were installed in Chitral in October 2021. The training enhanced the delegations’ understanding of the approach and operation of the system. Khurram Khaliq Khan, General Manager Operation and Projects at NDRMF, vowed to promote the CBFEWS approach and model with future financing.

The State Disaster Management Authority of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) also participated in the training and expressed interest in organizing similar training for their staff with support from ICIMOD and potential replication of the CBFEWS model.


Way forward with scaling opportunities

The Government of Pakistan has approved the first National Master Plan for Flood Telemetry System to monitor the major tributaries of the Indus in Pakistan. This provides an excellent opportunity to embed the low-cost and effective Early Warning Systems (EWS) developed by ICIMOD and our partners into the plan. Ahmed Kamal, Chair, Federal Flood Commission (FFC) stated that the FFC plans to coordinate with relevant stakeholders and will work with them to consolidate a better strategy to cope with flash floods.

The Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority (GBDMA), the custodian of the pilot CBFEWS, facilitated the training session. GBDMA and ICIMOD will be collaborating to review GB’s Disaster Risk Management Plan. The aim is to convert the post-disaster approach to a proactive/pre-disaster risk management approach. We hope to integrate CBFEWS in the revised plan and scale it up based on the learnings from the pilot sites.

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