Monday, August 30, 2010

Review of FFC and Flood Management System

In Pakistan floods are no novelty.A total of 12 floods came between 1947 and 1995,giving an average intermission period of 4-5 years.This ,however,is an average;it can come again in the next one or two years or in more than fiver years,but surely it will.It is important that we identify mistakes and shortcomings and take steps that these are not repeated again.Not only that,but potential future mistakes are avoided as well.

PMD reportedly did make a flood forecast early in June.But how credible these were?Apparently these were credible enough to lead into what one may be apt to call strategic pre-view.But does PMD system issues a formal probabilistic data,and the relevant agencies give credence to it and the formal follow up SOPs are tied to PMD ,is not known.A clear indicator is that WAPDA did not start emptying its dams ahead of time,so as to make room for the coming flood water.Every body appears to have played safe to save his skin,and unsaved the system as a result.There are two remedies to it;formal system and protocols dealing with quantified uncertainty and operational coordination.Both have been lacking.Federal Flood Commission thinks that it is a scientific body only and has no extra powers of coordination, a claim that we would examine in the light of statutory and written role a bit later.

All of this indicates the need for a formal and independent third party review,to inter alia,include the following aspects;

1.Review of the PMD forecast system,as to how scientific and structured it is.How much of possible traditional safe playing is involved.Is there a formal stochastic procedure available to deal with the uncertainty e.g.99%,95%,90% or just 50-50 probabilities based predictions.
2.How good ,inclusive and extensive is FFCs(Federal Flood Commission ) working. How simplistic or sophisticated is the so-called computer modelling;what are its variables;what is the scope of its output, quality,frequency and time-liness;does it limit itself to barrages only or goes down up to village levels;does it includes dykes and structures and their level and condition of repair;does it include topographical details at the required map scale to be able to generate forecasts for village inundations dynamically.Do they produce flood maps regularly and dynamically?Has adequately detailed flood zoning been done and tied to flood scenarios?Most probably their system does static analysis and generates broad macro outputs of limited value in flood management,otherwise eleventh hour and totally improvised management by local administration would not have been there.
3.Where is the flood manual?It was not visible at all.Is it adequate?when was the last time it was updated?How frequently it was used? what were the problems using it?
4.NDMA/PDMAs have apparently only a role in relief assistance and fire fighting,which it reportedly did with the assistance of Pakistan Army and Navy.NDMA. was established in the wake of Earthquake of 1995?.It has not been given much of a mandate and role in Flood Management.Every body including provincial governments believed that FFc is responsible for flood coordination and management,which FFC denies that it has such responsibility.FFC says it is only a scientific body.In that case it may be advisable that NDMA be given the responsibility of flood management and coordination,both in terms of planning and execution,while FFC continues to perform its purely technical functions it is capable of.

5.Consideration may be given to organize NDMA on the lines of FEMA(Federal Emergency Management Agency) of the USA.More centrist outlook may have to be adopted than the delay prone federalist structures in such emergency situations.There is certainly a major role of provincial and local governments in relief operations.However,the executive authority of emergency management may not be diluted by federal principles for the benefit of constituents themselves.

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