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Managing Floods to Managing Water Economies, 23-24 April

April 23, 2019

Islamabad, April 23, 2019 (PPI-OT): UNESCO Islamabad in collaboration with the Federal Flood Commission, Federal Ministry of Water Resources organized a workshop on the closing of the seven-year project on Strategic Strengthening of Flood Warning and Management Capacity of Pakistan. The workshop, “From Managing Floods to Managing Water Economies”, is being held on 23-24 April 2019 at Islamabad Serena Hotel.

Floods of 2010 in Pakistan, affected 20 million people, with a death toll of close to 2,000 and total economic impact of approximately US$43 billion. This highlighted the urgent need for improving preparedness at all levels and strengthening flood early warning system of the country. As a response, in 2011, UNESCO launched a major project in cooperation with the Government of Japan that aimed to upgrade the flood forecasting and early warning systems of Pakistan, and the hazard mapping of floodplain in the Indus River Basin.

The project has been successfully completed and now latest flood forecasting and inundation modelling tools are available at the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD). The two-day workshop is being held to formally hand over these flood forecasting models to the Government of Pakistan. Further, the workshop aims to highlight the past seven years of activities and achievements, analyse and assess the project outcome and outputs attained, and discuss the way forward.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Vibeke Jensen, Director UNESCO Islamabad, highlighted key achievements saying that, “PMD is among very few meteorological organizations in the region who have developed Automatic Weather Stations; Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources has developed a dataset of soil characteristics for Upper-Indus catchment and Eastern catchments of Indus River Basin; and, more than 1000 officials of different government organizations have received trainings on hydrometeorology and GIS.”.

Among other speakers at the inaugural session were Mr. Muhammad Riaz, Director General, Pakistan Meteorological Department; Mr. Neil Buhne, UN Resident Coordinator; Mr. Onoe Yoshihisa, Senior Representative, JICA Pakistan; Dr Shahbaz Khan, Director, UNESCO Jakarta; Mr. Shinichi Honda, First Secretary, Embassy of Japan in Pakistan; and, Mr. Ahmed Kamal, Chairman, Federal Flood Commission. The speakers appreciated the efforts made by UNESCO and its partner organizations, including the Government of Japan and JICA, to deliver the project in a successful manner.

The Lieutenant General Nadeem Ahmed (Retired), Chief Executive Officer, National Disaster Risk Management Fund delivered the keynote address. He appreciated the efforts of UNESCO and underlined the value of the model: “The model that has been developed will be very handy in predicting how the monsoon or precipitation or snowfall is ultimately going to impact the entire Indus Basin (including the Eastern rivers)”.

He stressed that the handling of disasters cannot be bound to the geographical boundaries of a country as precipitation in one country can lead to flooding in a neighbouring country. He commended the inclusion of Afghanistan in the project and hoped that a future project would include other neighbouring countries to allow us to have a more wholesome understanding of floods. He further added that “natural disasters require coming together as a region to develop a comprehensive response”. General Nadeem ended his address with the hope that the warning and risk reduction systems along with the government’s efforts to build dams will help to store flood water for the right distribution time, ultimately allowing us to “save this precious water for the country’s economy”.

The Inaugural Session was followed by testimonials of stakeholders, success stories by partners and a discussion of the way forward. Day 2 will feature a conversation on the challenges and solutions to the water sector of Pakistan. The two-day event is being attended by representatives of Governments of Japan, Afghanistan, and Australia, international donors and partners, local university partners, and senior officials from the Federal and Provincial government.

For more information, contact:
National Information Officer
United Nations Information Centre (UNIC)
Islamabad, Pakistan
Tel: +92-51-8355720
Cell: +92-300-8553790

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