CHITRAL, April 26: Glacier lake outburst floods (GLOF) pose grave threats in the Hindukush-Himalaya region and can play havoc with human settlements if timely steps are not taken to reduce the risks.
Addressing a workshop on ‘Reducing risks and vulnerabilities from glacier outburst floods in northern Pakistan’ held under the aegis of GLOF Project here Thursday, the speakers said northern Pakistan was home to 3,218 glaciers, 2,420 and glacier lakes, out of which 52 had been declared potentially dangerous.
They said the outburst of glacier lakes had devastated a number of villages including Sonoghur in the upper Chitral and many other valleys were intimidated to be at the risk by GLOF, which is a climate-induced phenomenon.
The speakers included DCO Rahmatullah Wazir, National Programme Manager GLOF Project Khalil Ahmed and deputy secretary of Ministry of Climate Change Syed Mujtaba Hussain. They said GLOF was the sudden discharge of a huge volume of water from glacial lakes and causes flooding up to the hundreds of kilometers of downstream and undermines the already meagre sources of livelihood of mountain people and downstream communities. “The communities settling in GLOF-prone mountain valleys are highly vulnerable which is compounded by poverty, increasing pressure on natural resources, high risk settlement patters and they needed greater education and public awareness on how to reduce the risks from GLOF threats.
A project is being launched in Droongagh valley in upper Chitral which lies in the vicinity of Gohkir and Bindo Gol Glaciers with a household of 1500.
The project will help the local communities in reducing the risks from the floods and will also help to minimize the losses to their property, lives and livelihood in the project area for which 4.1 million US dollars have been allocated. The workshop was participated by the representatives of the civil society organizations of the project area, senior government officials, climate change experts, academicians from the local colleges and exponents of NGOs working for environment, climate change and disaster risk reduction.–Zahiruddin