Expert call for inclusive and participatory urban management



Islamabad, SEPT 5 – The climate experts urged the federal and provincial governments for strong local governance, mainstreaming of climate adaptation and meaningful planning and implementation of disaster management. All this needs to have vigorous policy advocacy and incorporation of climate vulnerability into the development projects, besides awareness raising among the stakeholders including grassroots communities.

Speaking to a webinar on “Pakistan’s preparedness for climatic calamities”, the experts also showed their grave concerns over the rapidly increasing population and decreasing ratio of per capita social investment. All federal government policy frameworks would mean nothing if provinces don’t adopt it in a letter and spirit and trickle down funds to strengthen the local governance.

The webinar was organized by the Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan) on Saturday in the context of sustainable urban management. The panel included Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam, Chief Engineering Advisor Ministry of Water Resources Ahmad Kamal, UN-Habitat Country Manager Jawed Ali Khan, climate and water expert Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, and senior journalist Shabina Faraz. Well-known environmentalist and Devcom-Pakistan and DTNTV Director Munir Ahmed hosted and conducted the webinar.

Malik Amin Aslam said Pakistan’s vulnerability to climate impact is rising very fast. In recent years, the frequency and intensity of extreme events has gone up by three times while the funding resources have been reducing. We need to act efficiently on adaptation mechanisms for which the climate induced practices and development need to be promoted on all levels. After the 18th amendment, the provinces are more responsible for taking care of the grassroots management of sewage, water and sanitation, encroachments on the pathways of the flash floods.

He said disintegrated decision making would lead to more damage to lives and livelihood if adaptation mechanisms are not implemented on grassroots level. He also cited several steps taken by the federal government to combat the climate change impact. He said Sindh province is more vulnerable to climate impact and the provincial government need to act accordingly while the federal government is all out to support the provinces for their portative initiatives.

Ahmad Kamal said flood management plans have worked efficiently because of the early warning systems installed on the riverine system that has reduced the impact significantly. A well-defined disaster management system is in place with the leading role of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) where all provincial and national authorities and organizations mandated to cope up with the challenges of natural disaster interact.

He said the problem is with city governments where right and rational decision making is absent on sustainable urban management. He suggested strong local governance based on inclusive and participatory mechanisms.

Ali Tauqeer Sheikh asked for the private sector to support the city governments. The government should provide soft loans and incentives to the private sector to manage its sewage, water and sanitation, and solid waste management. There are more than one organizations taking decisions about the fate of people. The segregated decisions are hampering the sustainable management of cities. The other foremost challenge is rising population. Most of the newborn are in the poverty group, hence vulnerable to climate impact from day one.

Shabina Faraz while citing the miseries of Karachi city said it is very unfortunate that different interest groups are playing havoc with the citizens. Funds are not invested in the actual development of infrastructure while the political groups playing blind on the encroachments, different mafia are active. When the media highlights the actual playful tactics, the journalists are maligned and blamed for blackmailing and negative reporting.