The International Life Saving Federation expresses its sincerest condolences to the people of the Pakistan who have been affected by the nation’s worst flooding since 1929.
The flooding is estimated to have claimed over 1,100 people and is expected to impact the livelihoods of over 2.5 million.
As global advocates for the prevention of drowning the ILS reflects upon the knowledge that many of those who have perished will have drowned when caught in inundated areas, swollen waterways or in initiating a rescue.
The international relief effort is underway. Donors are contributing significant funds to emergency relief efforts. Disaster relief agencies are implementing plans to minimise the risk of disease and to support those displaced. Eventually these efforts will turn to rebuilding communities.
Flooding is known to claim the lives of approximately 200,000 people each year. It also impacts many hundreds of millions who are displaced, lose possessions and/or their livelihood as a result of large flooding events.
Unfortunately it is the most vulnerable who suffer the greatest burden. Women, children, and the elderly are over represented in terms of mortality, and in terms of the health, economic and social impacts in the days, weeks, years that follow a disaster of this magnitude. Low and middle income countries, particularly those in equatorial regions prone to monsoons and significant low pressure systems, are impacted with regular frequency.
Drowning and disaster is an area in urgent need of further research. The preventability of drowning in everyday life, prompts the international lifesaving community to emphasise both individual and community level drowning prevention skills as a strategy for disaster risk reduction.
As the impact of drowning in disaster occurs long before international or national relief efforts are dispatched, it is resilience at a community and/or individual level that saves lives and prevents further loss of life during emergencies such as severe flooding.
Whilst many ILS members are well placed to contribute to their own national disaster management plans, it is the work conducted well before such an event that is highly valued by governments and the community. Building skills in survival swimming, lifesaving, drowning prevention, basic life support and rescue among their membership and the community remains a strong focus for lifesaving agencies. The lifesaving systems developed to nurture these skills and their membership are also of vital importance in times of emergency.
The ILS supports the implementation of the United Nations Strategy for Disaster Reduction and emphasises its willingness to contribute through the Hyogo Framework:
- Ensure that disaster risk reduction is a national and a local priority with a strong institutional basis for implementation
- Identify, assess and monitor disaster risks and enhance early warning
- Use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels
- Reduce the underlying risk factors
- Strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels
ILS members wishing to contribute to emergency relief effort in Pakistan are encouraged to donate funds to one of the reputable international aid agencies.
Further, it is of vital importance that as advocates for global drowning prevention the ILS and its members take the tragic circumstances in Pakistan as an instance to strengthen their own efforts to research, design and implement strategies to prevent drowning in times of disaster.