The chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Lieutenant General Omar Mahmood Hayat said the existing four laws on disaster management need to be consolidated to strengthen the authority’s role in dealing with mega natural and manmade disasters.
The chairman was addressing the National Workshop on Role of Media in Preparedness here on Tuesday.
He said that media was considered to be the fourth pillar of the society owing to its crucial role in shaping public opinion and disseminating information. He emphasized media’s responsibility in creating awareness among public in disasters and said it was necessary to identify responsibility of media, NDMA and other stake holders in disaster management.
Hayat informed that NDMA had the responsibility to ensure standardization of relief and lay down adequate policy guidelines to help out provinces to cope with mega disasters. Pakistan was a disaster prone country as among the top ten countries directly affected by the severe climatic changes, he said.
The chairman appreciated the workshop and said such interactive session was necessary to develop enhanced association among the journalist community and NDMA.
He said that Pakistani nation was the most resilient one in the world as it had remained steadfast in consequent natural and manmade disasters including the 2005 earthquake and 2010 super floods including huge losses caused due to terrorism in the country since past 15 years.
The workshop was based on three interactive sessions based on disaster management system and developing partnerships, role of media in creating awareness and facilitating institutions in resource mobilization, gaps in disaster reporting and ethics of objective reporting respectively.
The panelists including senior NDMA officials of NDMA and expert from National Humanitarian Network Pakistan (NHN) apprised the participants about the status of disaster management in the country, existing policies, and media’s role in disaster reporting and its impact on the society, limitations of existing disaster management setup and disaster reporting ethics followed by the media.
They believed that well-equipped and properly trained disaster response force other than the armed forces would help to reduce disaster risk in serious catastrophic situations with efficient response. It was also believed that objective and unbiased reporting with persistent focus on the causes, results and repercussions of disasters to not only pinpoint lacunas of the system rather help to develop a way forward.
The discussants also claimed that Pakistan had learnt a lot from its experiences of various catastrophes occurred that had totally changed the disaster management system and helped to strengthen NDMA in the light of the lessons gained from the disasters.