Disaster Risks in the Province

Balochistan is beset with a long list of natural and human induced hazards that threaten to effect the lives and livelihoods of its citizens, natural hazards including floods, earthquakes, cyclones, Tsunami and drought to human induced disasters such as fires, civil unrest, terrorism, refugees, health epidemics an d transport accidents. This has severe repercussions on Balochistan’s sustainable development process. The increased de mand for suitable human settlements, food, land and fuel wood following increasing population, has resulted in clearing of the natural vegetation cover and consequently the depletion of native species of plants and animals has negative impacts in the long run if left unchecked. Ground water is getting depleted because of unsustainable use of tube wells. Balochistan lies in an active seismic zone. The city of Quetta and its populace have suffered heavily from earthquakes in the past. Similarly, Balochistan has a 770 kms long coast line which is expected to develop fast due to development of Gwadar port city and coastal highway. The towns along the Makran coast are expected to have immense increase in population in future. This will bring a new dimension of vulnerability to lives and property of people from tidal waves and tsunamis. The pollution of coastal waters by human activity may have profound impacts to people’s livelihoods along the coast. Inappropriate development initiatives and lack of an integr ated and holistic approach towards addressing development problems have made the environment a rather complex iss ue in Balochistan, thus complicating the disaster risks and vulnerabilities in the province. An influx of massive refugees from Afghanistan has intensified the pressure in the province leading to environmental degradation, as well as pressure on governance and administrative structures. The lack of coordinated and collaborative efforts towards addressing the underlying problems has led to the complexity of addressing development issues in the province. Resultantly, poor urban planning, unregulated use of natural resources, rangeland degradation, dichotomy of water scarcity and inefficient use, loss of forests, wildlife, habitats, biodiversity and increased level of pollution all combined have led to an increase in disaster risks and vulnerability in Balochistan. Damages and losses are all too evident and the needs are all too clear once disaster strikes. Managing disaster risks presents different challenges than those faced when managing disasters themselves. The risk factors that lead to disasters are very often hidden, largely invisible to policy makers, the general public, relief workers, development professionals, and the information communication people. Disaster Risk Reduction and Management thus depend not on identifying the consequences of disaster but rather the root causes. These causes need to be made visible and real so that the risks can be perceived, understood and reduced. Knowing about risks that lead to disasters, understanding how they affect our livelihoods and environment, and dedicating collective efforts to manage those conditions are crucial to protect our lives, our possessions, our social assets and indeed the land, water and natural resources on which human life depends. To stop these hazards from having negative devastating effects once they interact with humanity; certain timely and effective measures need to be put in place for effective disaster risk management.