Pakistani Officials Support Early Flood Warning System Implementation in Gilgit Baltistan

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A hazard is an agent that harms or damages life, health, property, or the environment. It can be either natural or attributable to an anthropogenic activity that results in imbalances in ecological cycles and ecosystems as a whole. The rough terrain, steep slopes, loose soil, sparse vegetation, heavy rainfall, and snowfall that characterize the Upper Indus Basin (UIB) region of Gilgit Baltistan (GB) in Pakistan trigger several hazards. 

Installation of DCP

To manage hazards in the region, World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Pakistan and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), with technical assistance from the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) and the Gilgit Baltistan Disaster Management Authority (GBDMA), have installed two community based flood early warning systems (CBFEWSs) in the district of Ghizer. These systems have been installed in Dammas and Sherquilla, where they are used to provide early warning regarding debris floods and flash floods respectively. 

Installation of ARTU in Dammas Valley

A CBFEWS mainly consists of three main parts: sensor (water level sensor and radar sensor), data collection platform (DCP), and audio remote terminal unit (ARTU). These components are highly dependent on each other and work together like organs in the human body. It is essential that all components of CBFEWSs be within sight for proper coordination. Sensors are installed in nullahs (watercourse, riverbed, or ravine) from where flooding will occur. The sensors are set at certain threshold levels and send information to DCP. After processing data, DCP transmits signals to ARTU, which consists of loudspeakers to disseminate information transferred by the DCP, and rings the flood alarm.

Installation of WRTU at Derani nala

Local stakeholders play an important part in determining the success of any project and getting fruitful results. In a meeting that followed the visit, the AC discussed the replication of early warning systems in other parts of the region so that local stakeholders might be able to get involved in ensuring the safety of vulnerable areas. As the installation of the system is challenging, it was decided that AKAH would train two technical professionals to be caretakers of the systems and safeguard the installations. The meeting wrapped up with a vote of thanks, acknowledging  the officials and participants. Furthermore, WWF-Pakistan is planning to coordinate with the DC of Ghizer to improve the systems in place to ensure proper preparedness in the event of future natural disasters. 

Officials having discussion during the meeting.