To improve and strengthen the flood early warning system and management capacity of Pakistan, UNESCO with financial assistance from the Government of Japan is collaborating with Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) and a number of other Pakistan partners and Japan organizations, UNESCO category II Center ICHARM and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). UNESCO, PCRWR and PMD jointly organized a two-day international workshop aimed atsetting up a common understanding and direction for river modelling data requirements, from acquisition and measurement methods to effective use in river floods simulations which will be extended from Indus IFAS system to the tributary rivers of the Indus i.e. Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej. The two day international workshop is part of UNESCO's "Strategic Strengthening of Flood Early Warning and Management Capacity of Pakistan" Project, phase 2 which was launched in March 2015 this year.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the workshop, Chief Guest, Mr. Hiroshi Inomata, Ambassador of the Japan commended the immense efforts of UNESCO, PCRWR, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), for their efforts. He said that Pakistan unlike Japan is a natural disaster prone country that are frequently confronting massive flooding, earthquake and Tsunami in the past and recently, today's workshop will further accelerate efforts for improving Strategic Strengthening of Flood Warning and Management Capacity Project.
Addressing the audience, Dr. Shahbaz Khan, Director, UNESCO Regional Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific extended his gratitude to the Government of Japan for their support and highlighted the success of Strategic Strengthening of Flood Warning System and Management Capacity of Pakistan Project. He informed that based on the successful accomplishments of the phase 1 project, countries like Namibia, South Sudan, and Myanmar also showed their interest in seeking help from UNESCO and ICHARM to strengthen their flood early warning system. He said, though capacity of Pakistan Meteorology Department (PMD) is enhanced but PMD needs further support to enhance flood forecasting capacity in the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej Rivers. These rivers have trans-boundary catchments which can use satellite based rainfall estimates developed under phase-I of the flood project to improve forecasting ability. Phase-II of this project will focus on the Eastern Rivers of Pakistan.
Mr. Mitsuyoshi Kawasaki, Representative of JICA said that JICA is contributing to the Grant Aid (GA) Project through UNESCO to protect and mitigate flood damages since 2011 through developing Indus IFAS (Integrated Flood Analysis System) Models. He said the phase II of the project will contribute to develop and extend the coverage of IFAS and would play a key coordinator for other Disaster Management Projects in Pakistan.
Dr. Ghulam Rasool, Director General PMD in his remarks expressed that till 1991, there was only one weather radar in Pakistan, and during 90's Government of Japan assisted PMD to deploy further three (3) radars, which are very crucial in predicting the monsoon floods. He said that Integrated Flood Analysis System is on the right track and with integration of Eastern Rivers and glacier snow melt component, the flood forecasting model will become complete.
Dr. Muhammad Ashraf, Chairman PCRWR in his welcome remarks highlighted that Pakistan has one of the largest irrigation systems in the world and approximately irrigating an area of 17 million hectare which is relying on the River Indus and its tributaries. The irrigation system is confronting many issues including the concurrent floods. He thanked UNESCO and the Government of Japan and assured his full cooperation and support to all partners for strengthening this important initiative.
The two day international conference is being attended by representatives from national and international partner organizations such as International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency - JAXA, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Federal Flood Commission (FFD) and international experts from Australia, France, Indonesia and Japan and their expertise will further enhance river modelling and flood forecasting models for Indus and the Eastern Rivers.