Agreement inked to protect mountain communities from natural disasters in KPK and GB

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said that the present government is taking all-out measures to mitigate adverse impacts of climate change-caused disasters on mountain communities in the country’s north.

According to the PID press release, on the occasion of a high-level ceremony held on Tuesday regarding the signing of different Letter of Agreements (LoAs) among United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa governments to protect the lives and livelihoods of people in Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa regions from devastating impacts of the climate change-induced disasters, particularly the Glacial Lake Outburst Flood events.

Lauding the role of UNDP in environmental protection and mitigation of climate change-induced natural disasters, he said that the present government is deeply grateful to the financial and technical support provided to various government organisations including the climate change ministry for enhancing the climate resilience of the country against various natural disasters and overall conservation and protection of the country’s environment and natural resources. He highlighted that melting of glaciers because of soaring temperatures in the country’s north has resulted in the formation of over 3,044 lakes in Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, putting some 7.1 million people at risk from potential GLOF events.

“Given the backdrop, I hope that the new agreement signed between UNDP and the governments of Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa would go a long way to help strengthen capacity and ability of the institutions and people in these areas to mitigate socio-economic and environmental impacts of natural disasters,” PM’s aide Malik Amin Aslam stressed.

Spelling out details of the pact with media after the signing ceremony, the National Project Director of the Glacial Lake Outburst Floods project (Phase-II) and Additional Secretary Climate Change Ministry, Joudat Ayaz, told media that under the pact UN Development Programme would provide technical, financial support throughout the year 2021 to the governments of Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to save lives and livelihoods of the mountain communities and usher in climate-resilient infrastructures and improved GLOF monitoring and warning systems.

The Letters of Agreements (LOAs) were signed by Knut Ostby, Resident Representative of UNDP-Pakistan and Syed Abrar Hussain, Additional Chief Secretary of Gilgit-Baltistan Planning & Development Department and Lt (R) Amer Sultan Tareen, Special Secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Planning & Development Department. The officials of the climate change ministry were also present at the event.

Lack of financial resources, preparedness, knowledge, capacity and disaster-resilient public infrastructures are among key issues being faced by the GB and KPK governments that hamper their efforts to protect the lives and livelihoods of the mountain communities in these areas from the deleterious impacts of GLOF events, which wipe out everything on their way when burst out, the additional secretary Joudat Ayaz pointed out. He hoped that however the joining of hands with GB and KPK governments, UNDP would play a vibrant role to addresses the issues.

Sharing further details of the activities to be conducted by relevant GB and KPK government departments in support with the climate change ministry and UNDP-Pakistan, the climate change ministry official said that the activities to be carried out under the LoAs would also seek to achieve significant results in the form of studies undertaken for risk assessments, GIS mapping of hazard locations and completion of forestry surveys, he said.

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