The Day that Changed My Life


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I will never forget October 8, 2005, a day that changed my life forever as it did for hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis.
I remember my house shaking violently like never before and my instinctive reaction to get myself and my family to safety outside the house. This was an earthquake that felt distinctly different from others. Things were shaking and moving too much and for too long. When we started seeing plumes of smoke rising from where a high rise apartment building had once stood, we knew this was really bad. Watching the terrified look of affected people on TV shook me inside and forced me to think about difference I could make. When I went back to my job and my life, the question kept nagging at me. When I was presented with the opportunity to work on the earthquake reconstruction project for the World Bank, I took it and have never looked back.

Pakistan Disaster Risk Management

I get tremendous satisfaction in the work that I do, in helping the Government better prepare for disasters which ultimately saves lives and gives people a better chance at minimizing the impacts in their lives due to adverse natural events. In Pakistan, we are working with Federal and Provincial Governments to provide resources for better disaster management, including strengthening capacity of institutions charged with disaster management in Pakistan to actual risk mitigation actions, such as better use of risk information for planning. Our team is working with these institutions for improved institutional clarity and capacity in Disaster Risk Management (DRM), and understanding of disaster risk to increase resilience. More specifically, strengthening operating procedures and protocols with the aim to mitigate risk, as well as preparing for and responding to disasters events in a more coordinated manner. There is a particular focus on innovation in risk identification using the existing capacities and expertise in the country for risk assessment led by the Government of Pakistan. So we are working with local agencies and trying to enhance their capacity to do risk assessments in the country.

Our aim is to support the Government of Pakistan to implement a risk identification and financing framework that will encourage data-driven analysis and lead to a reduction in disaster risk over the long term. Evidence-based risk analysis would be used to sensitize policy making through a series of interventions to build the capacity of the technical agencies and to improve the understanding of risks posed by natural disasters . Additionally, support would be provided to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) for creation of a national platform for data sharing that will help the policy makers, disaster risk reduction practitioners and general public for getting the spatial information on disaster risks faced by the country.
We hope that our interventions would make a difference for the people and help create a disaster resilient culture in Pakistan.



Haris Khan

Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist

Naveed Alam
December 16, 2013

The feeling of saving the lives of someone or making their lives safer from natural calamities will definitely lead to satisfaction. You are doing a commendable job for your countrymen. Pakistan being a developing country off course facing the financial constrain despite efforts like ones you mention will have an impact on sustainable development of the country. The challenge after these activities will be to streamline those DRR measures in developing sector and the sorting out of mechanism of how we can integrate DRR in governance, linking of CBDRM measures with standard scientific mitigation measures and intrusion of DRR into PPP will further strengthen the government and society as a whole.

Muhammad Saleh
December 13, 2013

The proposed DRM can be launched with greater efficacy at behavioral front than at the policy one. Policies can help mitigate the loss but behavioral changes right at the individual households to community, rural to urban centre levels can prevent the potential loss of property and life. NDRR policy 2013 spells out a commendable agenda yet lack of political will right from the parliament/provicial assemblies to NDMA/PDMAs is a biggest challenge. Again, experience shows that the government financial and administrative muscle is not strong enough to cope with the rescue, relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation needs in a post disaster setting. Partnership with private sector viz-a-viz response and relief efforts as and when requried need to be explored.

Kashif Zaidi
December 17, 2013

Harris Khan your article and a short documentary is really great. If world bank is really helping the government of Pakistan for all this great cause and it will help to save innocent lives. It was a neglected issue and by reading this article it looks like that someone is really bothered about the innocent lives of Pakistani people. A great article. Thank you Haris Khan