Pakistan is one of the most natural disaster-prone countries in the world and during July-August 2010 the worst ever flood in its history occurred. It may take months if not years for the people to recover from the devastating impact. Natural disasters often result in great losses, both in terms of materials and people’s lives. Vulnerability to natural disasters combined with socio-economic vulnerability of the people pose a great challenge to the government machinery. Disasters are exacerbated where there is inadequate government support for emergency situations. These situations are complicated because the breakdown of the government structure makes assistance or intervention difficult. This type of emergency is usually associated with the problems of displaced people during times of civil conflict or with people in need caught in areas of conflict. The actual disaster results in substantial damage to the population in terms of loss of life and property. This direct result can be termed the ‘first disaster’. Another wave of damage triggered by a chain of cause-and-effect events relating to the first disaster results in indirect damage to people remote from the original disaster. For example, the people cannot repay their loans, resulting in losses to money lenders. Such events can also result in higher incidences of problems relating to health (heart attacks, strokes), emotional responses (suicides) and crime (homicides). This is called the ‘second disaster’ and can be in greater magnitude than the ‘first disaster’. Appropriate rehabilitation and care of the victims in first disaster can break the chain of events leading to the second disaster. This paper summarizes the important and new developments in disaster situations, particularly for the higher flood risk zones, in an endeavour to mitigate the impact of the ‘second disaster’.
Key words: Disaster, flash floods, hydro-meteorology, Pakistan, strategies.
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