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    Torrential rains: Calls for investment in advanced forecasting technologies, early warning system to avert climate change damages

    Torrential rains: Calls for investment in advanced forecasting technologies, early warning system to avert climate change damages

    PESHAWAR (APP): Following forecast of more torrential rains and ascending of water in River Kabul, Sohail Sardar (28), a poor farmer and resident of Mohib Banda was seen shifting livestock in urgency to safer places to avoid financial losses during possible flooding.

    It was a hardworking day for poor Sohail, who quickly moved towards his cattle farm to shift goats, sheep and buffaloes in a three trucks for onward transportation to a secure area after seeing rise of floodwater in River Kabul, which an inundated low-lying areas of Nowshera and Peshawar districts.

    “Since Monday morning, I was closely monitoring water level in River Kabul that was continuously rising with each passing hour, leaving me with no other option but to shift my cattle to the house of maternal uncle at Wapda Town on GT Road Nowshera,” he said, adding he was yet to fully recovery of the 2022 flood damages.

    Like Sohail, several villagers were seen shifting their cattle to Pabbi, Amankot, Khudarzai and other adjoining areas following heavy rainfalls that lashed parts of Khyber Pakthunkhwa including Nowshera and Peshawar districts for the last couple of days including on Monday.

    “These torrential rains have signified Pakistan’s vulnerability to climate-change which started affecting almost all sectors of life including livestock, wheat crop, strawberry and watermelon orchards and agriculture,” said Dr Muhammad Mumtaz Malik, former Wildlife Chief KP while talking to APP.

    He said that Pakistan was among 10 countries affected by climate change and the recent torrential rains and flash flooding in Balochistan, Khyber Pakthunkhwa and Punjab provinces was evident of it.

    “The World Meteorological Organisation report has endorsed that Asia bore the brunt of climate and weather disasters in 2023 where temperatures climbed up almost two degree centigrade above the historical average, thus exposing living creatures to heatwaves, torrential rains and devastated floods,” he said.

    Dr Mumtaz Malik said that Khyber Pakthunkhwa was most vulnerable to climate change as evidenced by the 2022 flooding that swept away star hotels in Swat and affected about 33 million people and killed over 1,739 besides hundreds of thousands homeless.

    “These floods and torrential rains are a wake-up call for the all stakeholders in Pakistan to respond quickly,” he said, adding time has come to strengthen the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMAs) and Provincial Disasters Management Authorities (PDMAs) in terms of financial resources, manpower, capacity building of staffers and equipment to minimize floods and storms related damages.

    Dr Mumtaz said in developed countries, advanced forecasting technologies and early warning systems enable the governments and relief organizations to take preemptive measures, adding such systems were also essential for Pakistan.

    He said that investing in advanced forecasting technologies and expanding early warning systems in Pakistan would help ensure timely and accurate weather updates besides help provinces to take preemptive measures.

    Underscoring the need for an inclusive strategy for climate resilience and climate- change adaptability, he said it will help strengthen infrastructure, bridges and buildings to withstand extreme weather patterns, ensure sustainable agricultural and forests practices imperative for a secure food and water resources, and empower local populations through community-based disaster-risk management programmes.

    He said that about 27,000 hectares of forest were being lost per year in the country mostly in KP and Gilgit Baltistan where the high rate of deforestation mostly in watershed areas and community lands that have adversely impacted agriculture yield, food security and quantity of water at outlets besides triggering land degradation, loss of biodiversity and floods besides swallowing lands.

    Dr Mumtaz said the high rate of deforestation has not only amplified floods and facilitated sea water intrusion but also inflicted huge economic losses due to the government kitty as evidenced by devastative 2010 and 2002 floods that affected about 33 million people and 8.2 million homeless besides nearly 1700 perished.

    Fazl Elahi, Chief Conservator Forests KP said that forests were main weapons to win the fight against floods and mitigate effects of climate change.

    To counter climate change, he said that green growth initiative (GGI) was launched focusing on six focal sectors including forestry, national parks, clean energy, climate resilience, water and sanitation besides water management.

    Capitalizing on the GGI, he said billion trees afforestration project was launched on November 2014 under which 1208 million saplings including 732 million through enclosures on 306,983 hectares land, 316 million through plantation on 263,213 hectares land and 160 million through farm forestry planted in KP where 6.3 percent increase in forest covered areas has been registered.

    The project was later extended to the entire country with a plantation target of 10 billion including additional one billion plants to KP for 2018-2023. Under the 10 billion trees project, he said about 707.36 million saplings were planted in the province till December 31, 2023.

    The Forests Department chief said that Khyber Pakthunkhwa Chief Minister has principally decided to initiate the Billion Tree Plus project in order to enhance forest cover area. He said that direction has been issued to the quarters concerned to complete homework for launching of the project at earliest to mitigate effects of climate change.

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