When the earthquake hit us on the morning of 8th October 2005, we said that the disaster caught us with our pants down. The mini disasters of Cyclone Yemyin in 2007, the Ziarat earthquake in 2008 and the presently unfolding mega disaster suggest that we never bothered to pull our pants up and are continuously trying to cover our nether regions with Post-It stickers. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was launched in 2007 with a lot of fanfare but a quick look at the (recently lapsed) National Disaster Management Ordinance tells us that it is another toothless tiger whose job is to ‘coordinate’ among its provincial, regional and district-level counterparts. Now, we are a very funny nation. When it comes to taking responsibility for public, we quickly don our ‘federal’ garb and declare that the centre cannot interfere in a job that is primarily provincial/local. Such commitment to federalism, alas, is never forthcoming when it comes to resource exploitation, but that is another story.
NDMA’s mandate can perhaps be classified into three categories: mainstreaming risk-reduction in development programmes, overseeing contingency planning, and coordinating response to disasters.
Before the media promotes NDMA over Zardari and fake-degree holders, as being chiefly responsible for all our woes, it would be pertinent to look at the organization’s capacities and powers. After its establishment, a retired army official was appointed as its head. It took a while before the consultants hired by the United Nations could come up with an organizational structure. But NDMA could not attract the best of professionals chiefly for the work environment. This resulted in NDMA ending up mostly, with pen-pushers. Continue reading