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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Mariam Malik

Disaster Management in Pakistan Earthquake Risk Reduction in Karachi

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and sustainable development are essentially each other’s prerequisites. While it is difficult to prevent most natural hazards like earthquakes, strategies can be developed to prevent fatalities, mostly caused by building collapse in earthquakes. Pakistan also lies on a high density of active faults, at the intersection of three tectonic plates. Since 1935, due to earthquakes alone, the area where the country is located has suffered more than 140,000 deaths, costing more than USD 5 billion.
This research focuses on Karachi, a population of more than 21 million, located near active faults. It was hit by a massive earthquake in 1945, killing more than 4,000 people and according to geologists, the potential of another earthquake in the area cannot be ruled out. In the presence of DRR guidelines and frameworks, there still exists a gap between legislation and implementation. Considering the limited effectiveness of government’s policies, this research reflects on DRR practices from better prepared nations of the world in order to ascertain which methodologies can work best in indigenous circumstances.
Exploring the challenges and opportunities based on local socio-economic conditions, this study identifies five fundamental DRR approaches from best practices in Japan and Turkey; thereby devising a Multi Prong Strategy designed for Karachi. A key factor in the proposed model is Early Warning System, utilizing the already strong telecommunication network and existing Cell Broadcast Technology in Pakistan, to work in conjunction with the associated upgradable seismology network. Another basic element of the strategy, seismic retrofit of school buildings is found to be a feasible solution based on its multi-purpose usefulness during catastrophes. Community Based Disaster Mitigation, the third key factor is idealized for slums in the city suburbs, where costly interventions like infrastructure retrofitting are not viable. Finally, in order to strengthen all aspects of DRR, the overall strategy must incorporate the cross-cutting elements of awareness and training as well as local and international collaboration among stakeholders.
Conclusively, Karachi demands attention from researchers, government agencies, NGOs, international organisations and citizens alike to take precautionary measures in order to build resilience among the citizens of this metropolis.