“Impact of natural disaster and complex emergencies on of women, vulnerable communities”

QEUTTA: The better understand and address the Impact of natural disaster and complex emergencies on the lives of women and vulnerable community, Gender and child cell of provincial Disaster Management Authority Baluchistan (PDMA), organized a community hearing with support of UN Women (the united Nations Entity for gender Equality and the Empowerment of women), through their women leadership in social reconstruction programme.

Participants included PDMA, Secretaries and/or Directors from various Department, media, academia, National Disaster management Authority, Danish Embassy and civil Society.

During proceeding of the day 10 women testifiers from live districts of Baluchistan presented their testimonies and an expert respondent panel shared their comments. These comments will draw the action plan for the advocacy campaign on active inclusion of women in DRM planning and policy.

Women from local communities of various districts of Baluchistan shared progress made at their respective provincial and local levels over the last few months in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. Guest speakers from the national Policy Guidelines on Vulnerable Groups in Disasters to the Group.

In the welcome Mr. Tahir Munir Minhas, Director General, Provincial Disaster management Authority said: “talking into consideration the gender aspect of climates and its impact, a Gender & Child Cell was notified in 2012 that was further supported by UN Women”. Prior to the hearing, GCC PDMA conducted several focus group discussions, around Gender and Emergencies and its impact on women & vulnerable communities, with community members of different districts in Baluchistan Province. In the result of comprehensive community interaction, the issues related to gender & emergencies were identified and potential testifiers were selected.

The presentations from all testifiers were quite rich and diverse and highlighted the link between disaster and vulnerabilities, with its specific impact on the lives of women in different parts of the province. The local issues and concerns and voices from grassroots women were linked with that is happening at provincial and national level. The hearing also focused on who is accountable and what can be done for adaptation and mitigation, especially at the time of SDG set targets. Important issues were highlighted regarding gender, poverty & impact of disaster that included areas like girl child, youth involvement, food & livelihood security and violence against women. The participation and involvement in the event was quite encouraging and hearing got lots of attention as a key tool for mobilization and policy advocacy.

The expert testifier and the respondent panel stated that Baluchistan has been traditionally vulnerable to natural disasters due to its unique geo-climatic conditions. Earthquakes, floods, droughts, cyclones, and landslides have been recurrent phenomena.

They stated that there are some learning’s/experience from the last floods 2010-12 in Baluchistan that vulnerability, protection concerns and violence against women increase in the wake of natural disaster and that the increased risk is associated with gender inequality and the limited representation of women in disaster responses. Yet facts and figures are lacking when it comes to the effect of natural disasters and complex emergencies on the lives of women and girls. So the tribunal is a good way to bring about these facts and case studies for policy advocacy.

It was concluded that there is lack of awareness; information and capacity, at various levels, with regards to coordinated disaster risk management, women and vulnerable communities find it difficult to deal with the differential impact of natural disaster, while at the planning level such differential impact should be assessed right from the onset. DRM policy and Provincial Disaster management Acts should have gender mainstreamed in it. PDMA shall institutionalize Gender and child cell and shall rescue teams. It is recommended that the policies & Programs in Sector like water, agriculture, forests, and disaster should include provisions to protect communities from the adverse impact of climate change and adaptation measures be suggested. Out of 12 vulnerable ecosystems in Pakistan 8 are in Baluchistan and the living fossils (Juniper forest ecosystem is one of them. The Government with support of UNESCO must be brought into action to declare it as a WORLD HERITAGE. It will not only help in forest conservation and protection but the livelihood of people living there can be sustained. Government should ensure the compliance with building codes-specially in Quetta to Earthquake hazard.

Expert testifier Dr.Irfan Baig presented the Expert Test many and gave a holistic picture of the province. The recommendations will be shared with Minister for Home and Tribal Affairs for advocacy to the Provincial Government.