Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam, on Wednesday said that strengthening the human and technical capacity of public institutions and vulnerable communities in Pakistan’s north and enhancing public understanding about risks climate change-induced glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) is vital to improving resilience of the northern regions against such disasters. However, initiatives are being taken to reduce risks and vulnerabilities from the glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) and snow-melt flash floods in the northern region, which have emerged to be a grave challenge for the country, he said in a press statement issued here today. Malik Amin Alsm emphasised, “Besides infrastructure, lives and livelihoods have also become exposed to the mountain risks of the GLOF incidents, which are becoming more interest and frequent as average temperatures are rap idling spiking in the northern parts of the country. Thus, protecting lives and livelihoods of the mountain communities has also been assigned equal importance.” The approaches for accomplishing these very goals involve building up the capabilities of local level institutions (Agriculture, Livestock and Forest departments of Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral regions. As a part of this, initiatives have been kicked off under the UNDP-supported Glacial Lake Out Burst Flood Risk (GLOF) Project of the climate change ministry to boost resilience of the public infrastructure and lives as well as livelihoods against GLOF risks by understanding the nature and extent of GLOF dangers in the country and their effects on human and economic development in all sectors; taking measures to improve risk mapping, early warning and disaster prevention planning as a part of plans to provide an evidence-based for replication and up-scaling in other communities. SAPM Malik Amin Aslam said further that most of the regions of Khyber-Pakhtunhwa province are at a growing risk of urban and glacial lake outburst floods. Therefore, in order to prepare the provincial Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for rapid disaster recovery and response, technical and technical support is being provided to the provincial government to deal with risks of such flood incidents. To be managed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Disaster Management Authority (KPDMA), a District Emergency Response Cell (DERC) has been recently set up under the GLOF project, which has been provided with different technological tools for timely prediction GLOF risks and dealing with them effectively, which would help avoid deaths and displacements from these disasters, he explained., Explaining the contributions of the GLOF project in protecting lives, livelihoods and public infrastructure in mountain regions of the country, this is a major joint initiative of the climate change ministry and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which aims to equip the KPK province and Gilgit-Baltistan region with technical know-how and technology for streamlining the communication systems between KPDMA and district disaster management authorities (DDMAs) in both GLOF risk-vulnerable areas for any unforeseen disaster situations. He further said that he had personally visited most of the vulnerable project areas recently and met both direct and indirect beneficiaries, which believe that empowerment of local institutions with the latest technology and technical know-how is of unprecedented importance for managing the GLOF risks. Malik Amin Aslam vowed that he would personally look after the GLOF project and ensure it plays a vital role in minimising the GLOF risks. He said that under the GLOF project, six billion rupees would be spent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan regions to mitigate the GLOF risks and their impacts on the public infrastructure, lives and livelihoods of the mountain communities. However, this hefty spending would benefit 24 GLOF-vulnerable mountain valleys of KPK and GB areas, SAPM Malik AMin added. HE said further that each vulnerable community in the 24 villages would also receive a revolving fund of USD 50,000 under the GLOF project, which would be utilised by the mountain village communities to respond to any unforeseen climate change-caused disaster including GLOF. Making a mention of the recent flood event in Chitral’s mountain valley of Golain, Malik Amin said that fortunately no loss of the life reported from the areas thanks to provision of early warning systems and capacity building of local disaster management authorities, which helped timely prediction of the GLOF incident and resulted in saving of lives. “Given the encouraging outcomes of the first phase of the GLOF project so far, I am optimistic that models of the provision of DERC equipments, capacity building of the local mountain communities and enhanced awareness among them about the GLOF risks and their handling would be replicated to all other parts of the climate-vulnerable regions of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan regions,” Malik Amin hoped. Earlier today, while speaking at a seminar held at the University of Chitral in the context of the International Day for Disaster Reduction, SAPM Malik Amin said role the university students and teachers is of paramount importance in helping protecting the people from growing risks of climate change-caused disasters in the area. “They should play their part in telling communities about various ways and means of improving their guard against these risks and adopting climate-smart living style and farming practices,” he underlined. Talking about the International Day for Disaster Reduction day marked in the country under the banner of the climate change ministry and local disaster risk management authorities, Malik Amin Aslam told the seminar participants that the Day has been marked all over the country to promotes a culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction among people by showcasing how people around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters and what lessons they offer for Pakistan to adopt for climate-resilience building. Highlighting Pakistan’s growing climate vulnerability and exposure to natural disasters, the SAPM referred to an example of the occurrence of various GLOF events in the northern regions of Pakistan, highlighting that the present government is very much committed to addressing these risks under the GLOF project. “Under the project, support is being provided to the mountain communities vulnerable to the effects of climate change through the installation of Early Warning Systems, flood protection infrastructures, and help in increasing the forest land in the area to enable and equip vulnerable communities,” he explained to the seminar participants. Maik Amin highlighted, “Disasters hit hardest at the local level. however, it is also at the local level that capacities need to be strengthened urgently.” He pledged that the present government would work together with all relevant partners and play its part address the adverse climate risk and introduce more projects in different socio-economic areas including agriculture, irrigation, water and energy on the paradigm of the GLOF project.