EARTHQUAKE RISK REDUCTION IN RAWALPINDI CITY
Rawalpindi city is a cluster of quaint old buildings and shiny new buildings jutting into each other in a commercial hub whose history goes back more than five hundred years. Rawalpindi’s dense bazaars and narrow residential alleys lie on a seismic fault line. Yet the enforcement of seismic building codes has not been taken serious by the city management. The city has seen dramatic population increase during the last forty years. Space for a rapidly increasing rate of inhabitants in the historic city is made through upwardly constructed additional units. The weight of new additions often exceeds the strength of the old and original foundations due to poor monitoring.
PPLDM’s founder Zeenia Sadiq Satti started advocating for earthquake risk reduction of Rawalpindi city in 2014, even before PPLDM formally existed as an NGO. A walk down the city and observation of its structures led her to conclude there was dire need for earthquake risk reduction at three levels:
- Hazard mapping of Rawalpindi city to ascertain the level and scale of risk
- Teaching of CBERM (Community Based Earthquake Risk Management) skills
- Retrofitting of critical life-saving structures such as hospitals and building that serve as transitional shelters.
PPLDM is also lobbying the Punjab government to prepare a mass casualty medical preparedness and fire safety plan for Rawalpindi city.
From June 2015 to October 2015, PPLDM wrote letters to public representatives who reside in Rawalpindi city to sensitize them to the danger the city faces. PPLDM has outlined a risk reduction plan and sent it to Punjab Chief Minister Shahabaz Sharif in July 2015. Additionally, PPLDM mobilized Rescue 1122, Pakistan’s Red Crescent Society, (PRCS) Civil Defense (Punjab), ERRA (Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority) Eidhi Foundation (Pakistan’s – indeed the world’s – largest philanthropic network) plus Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP). PPLDM guided personnel from the aforesaid entities in conducting earthquake focused CBDRM in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. In July 2015, PPLDM held a large meeting at Liaqat Bagh – Rawalpindi city’s equivalent of Hyde Park – in which earthquake survival skills were taught to members of the community by experts from ERRA and PPLDM.
PPLDM is currently seeking funds for its project on earthquake proofing the historic and dense city of Rawalpindi. PPLDM hopes once the project finishes, it will serve as a model to be replicated for urban earthquake risk reduction in all vulnerable cities of Pakistan.
For more information on the project contact PPLDM’s Executive Director Zeenia Sadiq Satti Zeenias@ppldm.net
SHELTERS FOR DAILY WAGE EARNING LABOUR FORCE
Pakistan’s internal migrant labour force that migrates from rural areas to urban areas to look for gainful employment sleeps rough on the pavements and parks of the city of their choice due to income uncertainties. Employed on daily wage basis, internal migrant workers cannot afford to rent accommodation. Additionally, they have to fend for their families back in the rural area they come from. Hence they are content to sleep out in the open or on the verandas of market places after the shops shut down at night. Sites of daily wage earning labour force rough sleeping in the open are common in Pakistan’s commercial hubs.
This practice is no longer sustainable due to climate change. The UN plus international climate experts have warned of the linkage between climate change and the outbreak of new and lethal viruses.The linkage renders rough sleepers vulnerable to disease. PPLDM has therefore started a campaign to build shelters for daily wage earners in all urban areas of Pakistan to keep them – and by extension the entire urban population – safe from communicable disease.
Rough sleeping daily wage earners have no medical facilities. If they contract a virus, it is likely to go unnoticed till it has caused an epidemic. At that stage, it becomes difficult to safeguard the city’s population. Viruses thus spread can even lead to pandemics. PPLDM considers it not just a national but an international health issue.
The economic cost of epidemic, especially if there is no vaccine for one, is forbidding. A travel ban to and fro the inflicted country can cause individuals and business entities huge losses. Rapidly spreading epidemic at national level can lead to “quarantine” for the country thus stricken. Tourism can come to a halt and with its end, much needed revenue for the local population can dry up. Financial deprivation can make individuals and families more susceptible to ill health. A cycle of deprivation, poverty and illness can adversely impact the nation’s development at all levels.
PPLDM is currently working on creating model shelters called “Mazdoor Adda Shelter” in the federal capital Islamabad and the provincial capital of Punjab, Lahore. We hope our effort will be replicated by other NGOs and provincial governments all over Pakistan. Urban shelters is a necessity dictated by climate change, severe weather, and the outbreak of dangerous new viruses for which vaccines have yet to be invented.
LAND SLIDING RISK REDUCTION IN HILLY AREAS OF PAKISTAN
The page is under construction