Expedited efforts necessary to devise strategy against heatwave: Sherry

ISLAMABAD, May 17 (APP): Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman on Tuesday said it was necessary to expedite the government efforts to devise a comprehensive communication strategy and precautionary mitigating measures to tackle the menace of soaring heatwave.

The minister chaired a meeting of the Task Force on Climate Change held in pursuance of the Prime Minister’s directive on May 16, 2022 at the PM house, said a news release.

The meeting was convened to take stock of immediate preparedness and response measures, prepare an action plan on precautionary measures, prepare a comprehensive public communication strategy and take cognizance of water shortages in agriculture and other sectors.

“Our country is already water-stressed, and lack of water may lead us to water scarcity by 2025. PM’s task force on Climate Change will endeavor to present immediate, midterm and long term measures by cooperating with provinces,” Sherry Rehman said.

While chairing the meeting, she emphasized that “Pakistan is currently faced with the warmest months on record since 1961 and the Meteorological Office has predicted that the heat wave will continue till June.”

One of the most significant decisions taken in the meeting was establishing central control rooms located in the NDMA to ensure effective coordination with all emergency response units in order to expedite flow of information regarding heatwave. In the same vein, the Task Force directed the provincial governments to provide information on the number of emergency response centers within each province so that Ministry of Climate Change can proactively disseminate that information to the general public.

Taking NDMA on board, Sherry Rehman stated, “The biggest issue Pakistan faces right now is absence of adequate data or statistics. To this end, a centralized control room, operated by NDMA, will be established where provincial governments will provide statistics and data on the number of people treated at the emergency response centers, any causalities, number of livestock mortalities, etc. Such a forum would ensure better service delivery along with increased efficiency.”

Being an agrarian country, a well-functioning irrigation system is need of the hour. The Task Force directed Ministry of National Food Security to provide a comprehensive report on the current irrigation needs along with livestock related challenges and remedies. Provincial governments were also requested to provide information on water levels and water shortages to the Ministry of Water Resources on daily basis, a data that is vital for any future remedial measures.

Focusing on measures to ensure water conservation and availability, Sherry Rehman questioned the provincial chief secretaries on the current situation in their respective regions. Taking the example of Sindh, she said, “There needs to be equitable distribution of water resources, else Sindh will bear the brunt of the carelessness of other provinces. The operationalization of the desalination plants should be the main focus of the provincial administration. This process is being used throughout the world, the delay in Sindh is alarming.” To further bridge the communication gaps and coordination issues, Ministry of Climate Change will work with Ministry of Information Technology and National Information Technology Board (NITB) to establish a centralized IT portal to collate information on daily basis.
Addressing the issue of lack of a communication strategy in climate change response, Rehman stated, “The new Task Force will work diligently to devise a robust electronic and media campaign together with Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Creating public awareness is one of the major aim of the Task Force.”
Conclusively, it was decided that the Ministry of Climate Change will finalize recommendations in consultation with the provincial governments for a medium to long term strategy to meet the challenges of global warming and Green House Gases (GHG) emissions in due course of time. The Task Force will be meeting again on Friday 20th May.

The meeting was attended by Minister for National Food Security Tariq Bashir Cheema and Minister for Water Resources Syed Khursheed Shah and also included secretaries and provincial chief secretaries via Zoom.