The year 2015 was significant in terms of repeated natural disasters which struck different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, affecting a large number of people and causing substantial damage to public and private infrastructure. The Mini-Cyclone on 26th April, Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) and flash floods in July-August, a massive earthquake on 26th October followed by earthquakes in November and December, caused 232 deaths and inflicted grievous injuries to many people. Around 98,000 housing units were either fully or partially destroyed. The total estimates of reconstructing damaged public infrastructure i.e. roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, irrigation channels, public health schemes etc., are Rs.40.756 Billion. The total amount spent on cash compensation only during the year 2015 was Rs. 10.535 Billion while the amount spent on restoration of damaged public infrastructure was Rs.24.654 Billion. The frequency and intensity of these incidents reveals that the province will face the worst effects of climate change in the future. In addition, the province is confronting the existing challenges of terrorism and displacement.
These natural disasters are overstretching the limited resources of the province and severely affecting its development process. The province, in addition to these natural disasters, has faced the challenges of the influx of TDPs/IDPs from FATA region and accommodating and managing them in camps established in settled areas which resultantly, again creating a huge challenge. These factors have created huge pressure on each and every sector from public service delivery to health, education, livelihoods and governance. The resulting social and economic vulnerabilities, if combined with natural disasters, may lead to further turbulence and social unrest.
The experience of the year 2015 highlighted the underlying gaps in the capacities of both government departments and the public ability to effectively respond to disasters. The line formations of the vital government agencies like C&W, Irrigation, Education, Health were found not to be fully equipped with essential equipment and contingency funds to manage immediate response. District Disaster Management Units (DDMU) led by District Nazims/Deputy Commissioners need to be reorganized and strengthened. The impact from 2015 demands that all government and non-government agencies must ensure a high level of preparedness against natural disasters in future. Resource planning of the government and non- government agencies should essentially include the element of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). Moreover disaster mitigation strategies need to be adopted at all levels.
The development portfolios of all government departments require alignment with Disaster Risk Reduction strategies so as to minimize life and property losses. Government agencies need to fully equip their line formations at the district or regional levels with necessary equipment so as to enable them to offer efficient and effective response. Better coordination amongst all agencies involved in rescue and relief activities also need further improvement. In addition to this, the unorganized state of the community and lack of their capacities to cope with emergencies is also a burning issue which requires the proper attention of all concerned.