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Building Disaster Risk Reduction capacity in Pakistan through academia

Although the October 2005 earthquake played a significant role in creating general awareness about disasters in Pakistan, the 2010 floods in Nowshera district became a turning point. The Principal and the Faculty at the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) Risalpur Campus found it imperative to start working towards building capacity to reduce disaster risks in Pakistan. They started to offer a Masters in Disaster Management and the first batch of graduate students joined the programme in 2012. 

Case Study

Building Disaster Risk Reduction capacity in Pakistan through academia.

HFA Priority of Action

HFA Priority 3.

Location

NUST, Risalpur Campus, Pakistan.

How was the problem addressed?

A post-graduate programme in Disaster Management has been started at NUST, Pakistan. One batch of graduates has completed the degree, the second batch is in the research phase, while the third batch has recently started

The Rector NUST and Principal NUST Risalpur Campus were involved in planning and finally launching this programme.

The initial challenge was the lack of qualified faculty members to run the programme.

Four Ph.D faculty members were sent to the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok, Thailand, for certification in Disaster Management. 

Another challenge was to convince people about the importance of this programme as most of the people involved with running disaster management issues at government level are not qualified or experts in this field.

There is still a lot to be done, but things are moving in the right direction. As the knowledge base in this field becomes stronger and more competent, the institutions will gradually become stronger and well equipped and prepared to handle disasters in near future.

The enrollment at NUST for the programme is, however, limited to private students and persons from non-governmental organizations (NGOs). With the passage of time, we foresee the involvement of government and public sector in this programme, which is the need of the hour.

Results

This is just a start; and nothing is guaranteed. The first batch of graduates, however, is now out in the field. Knowledge and awareness about disaster management are growing with qualified people now available to manage the issues. Pakistan is likely to improve a lot in DRR related activities at government level, which at this moment is restricted to few NGOs who are in far flung limited areas and sectors.

Measuring Success

When the right qualified persons get involved in institutions and organizations dealing with disasters, drastic improvements are expected in this highly disaster prone country in near future.

As stated earlier, it is just a start and it will take time for the impacts to become visible; the positive outcome is that we have started moving in the right direction.

Relevance to HFA

The main problem is that Pakistan lacks the capacity to deal with disasters. By starting this programme, the capacity building initiative has been taken. This is likely to encourage other academic institutions to start similar programmes thus increasing the knowledge base required to create awareness among the masses in Pakistan.

Academicians need to be given more of a role in the HFA2. In countries like Pakistan, there is a need to create a knowledge base as a start, because no matter how badly a country is affected by disasters, unless and until its local capacity is built, international and local NGOs will not be able to solve the problems or address the issues in tackling disasters.

Potential for Replication

Some of the other universities and institutions have started a similar programme but it’s limited to a post-graduate diploma in Disaster Management. A higher level of education on this issue is still lacking in Pakistan.

By providing better employment opportunities and encouraging qualified people to work in disaster related Institutions and organizations, capacity building in Pakistan can be improved. This will take the country towards building a disaster resilient country.

Contribution by

Engineer Fiaz Hussain Shah, Ex-Principal, NUST, Risalpur Campus, Pakistan. Email: fiazhussainshah@yahoo.com

Dr. Naeem Shahzad, Assistan Professor, Faculty Disaster Management, NUST, Risalpur Campus, Pakistan. Email: naeemshahzad@mce.nust.edu.pk

Dr. Syed Hassan Farooq, Associate Professor, Faculty Disaster Management, NUST, Risalpur Campus, Pakistan. Email: farooqhassan@mce.nust.edu.pk