GB To Get 28 Weather Monitoring Stations, 238 River Discharge Sensors Under GLOF-II

GB to get 28 Weather Monitoring Stations, 238 river discharge sensors under GLOF-II

GILGIT, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 1st Jun, 2021 ) :The increasing risk of glacial flooding due to rapidly melting glaciers in Gilgit Baltistan (GB) demand effective disaster risk reduction measures to protect local communities, livelihoods and critical infrastructure from glacial lake outburst flood destruction.

The Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) after arduous efforts in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) expedited UN-funded GLOF-II project worth US$40 million with financial assistance provided by the Green Climate Fund (GCF), told APP a senior official of the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC).

The GLOF-II project, he said would be completed in June, 2022 which would help install 28 Weather Monitoring Stations (WMS), 238 river discharge gauges and sensors in GB enabling 100 percent of households in targeted communities to receive and respond to early warnings and take appropriate measures following the GLOF alerts.

Early warning system (EWS) means an adaptive and advance measure for climate change, using integrated communication systems to help communities prepare for catastrophic climate-related events. A successful EWS saves lives, jobs, land and infrastructures, he said while explaining the EWS.

The melting of glaciers due to rising temperatures in Gilgit Baltistan has resulted in the formation of over 100 glacial lakes in the Northern Areas that have increased five times. From just 30 in 2015, within just three years in 2018 there have been 150 glacial lakes formed in the North, he said.

Gilgit-Baltistan is a disaster prone region of Pakistan, particularly facing water-induced hazards.

A survey conducted by International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), over 250 villages in GB in 2017 were at risk due to natural disasters including flash floods, glacial lake outburst floods, and earthquakes.

Due to lack of adequate early warning mechanisms in GB the intense and rapid floods cause considerable loss of lives and property downstream.

By using indigenous, regional, and global knowledge and experiences natural disasters could be managed where the early warning systems have been developed globally to provide flood information, the official said.

Government of Pakistan is taking all-out measures to mitigate adverse impacts climate change-caused disasters on mountain communities in Pakistan.

Last year two major agreements were signed among United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to protect lives and livelihoods from disastrous impacts of the climate change-induced disasters.

The project was delayed due to some technical reasons, but now all modalities had been sorted out and work was in progress according to the schedule.

The outbreak of coronavirus pandemic was one of the main reasons that proved to be stumbling block in initiation of the project that was aimed at protecting the local communities against flash floods due to outburst of glacial lakes.

Now the project (continuation of last agreement) worth US$40 million regarding installation of early warning systems in 24 valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan to avoid flash floods, under the Green Climate Fund, would be completed in June 2022 Under this agreement UNDP would provide technical, financial support to the government of GB to save lives and livelihoods of the mountain communities.

The agreement will include the installation of scaled-up early warning systems and automated weather stations to mitigate the impact of GLOFs, Risk assessments, GIS mapping of hazard locations and completion of forestry surveys is also part of the accord.

Various experts of climate change described the agreements as an unprecedented importance that build Pakistan's ongoing partnership with the UNDP to build the community resilience against climate-induced disasters.

The project would benefit the most vulnerable rural communities in Pakistan's high-altitud areas.

"The Ministry of Climate Change and UNDP in consultation with relevant provincial departments is closely working to make this first project a success and are committed to provide their full support to local communities within the project framework" the official of the Ministry told.

In Gilgit Baltistan a flash flood occurred in May last year due to glacial lake outburst in Shishper glacier at Hasanabad Hunza. The floodwater carried huge boulders from the melting glacier and destroyed cherry, apricot and walnut orchards. It also damaged many homes and forced the area people to move to makeshift residential arrangements.

In response to the this emergency UNDP with a joint mission of Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) and Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority (GBDMA) experts went to conduct a feasibility study and install Automated Weather System (AWS) in the area. As a result, the AWS has now been installed to avoid and reduce the impact of hazards such as flash floods created due to lake outbursts phenomenon.

To manage hazards in GB, World Wildlife Fund for nature (WWF)-Pakistan and ICIMOD, with technical assistance from the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) and GBDMA, have installed five community based flood early warning systems in the districts of Ghizer, Shegar, Ganchay and Hunza, providing early warning regarding debris and flash floods respectively.

At the same time, the development of disaster management policies and the introduction of weather monitoring stations, flood gauges, hydrological modelling and early warning systems will increase the ability to respond rapidly to flood scenarios.