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Editorial: Responding to storm

Meteorological centers in South Asia warned of a deadly storm approaching fast towards northern, eastern and central parts of Afghanistan. The storm will hit the country on Wednesday, but at wee hours. Eastern and northern provinces of the country could be hit by worst natural disasters. Flooding, landslides and hail might disrupt public life and inflict heavy financial losses. Cold weather will add to the problem as temperature will drop to single digit especially in the areas where the snow covers summits of Hindu Kush. It will rain for a few days if the prediction becomes reality. The storm, which is also predicted by the Afghanistan’s metrological center, can also claim lives if precautionary measures were not taken.

The country’s meteorological department said that it had sent weather reports and warnings to the national disaster management authority and other relevant officials to take steps and prepare for the untoward situation. As natural disasters had crippled public life in Badakhshan, Panjshir, Takhar, Kunar, Nuristan and other provinces in the past due to dilatory response of the government, therefore, this early warning alert is of utmost importance. It cannot help to prevent the storm. However, it will provide a time window to the authorities to draft precautionary measures mechanism. Without such mechanism the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority will be unable to respond quickly in urgent and serious situations. To ensure a rapid response where there is an imminent risk of severe harm to people, it is imperative to have a plan and remain on standby.

Since our past experiences are not worth appreciating. Thus, this time the government should plug all the loopholes in its current disaster management policies. In the past people were left on the mercy of humanitarian organizations. Many people lost their homes and lives due to this cold-shoulder response of the leaders. The dilemma with the disaster management organizations is that they are always caught unprepared, though they claim that they have stocked medicines and food items. If we were not fortunate, this time the intensity of the calamities could shock the policymakers in the power corridors.

Unfortunately, by preparations the government means allocation of budget and distribution of aid on the basis of first come, first served. The authorities shall also educate people. It is an important step towards controlling the damages caused by the natural disasters. How can public deal with natural calamities when they don’t know when they would be hit? As many people are illiterate, therefore, they don’t know how to protect their family members. The actions people take and the choices they made in such critical situations matter a lot. People are always first to respond to disasters.

Therefore, the government shall inform the public through media how to prepare for the worst. People in northern and eastern provinces shall store food stuff and fuel. In adverse conditions and without heat, they would need blankets to keep warm. First aid kits should be provided to the elders in northern areas to save precious lives at the critical hour.

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