Supporting the Flood Relief Efforts Through Spatial Analysis

As the recent tragedies in Haiti and Japan demonstrate, the speed and effectiveness of a state’s response to natural disasters is critical in saving lives and helping countries re-build. Pakistan experienced a major flood last summer, and to establish entitlements, coordinate relief and ensure that no village is left behind, it was important that detailed demographic spread be available to the coordinating agency for flood relief. At the request of the government, the IGC-Pakistan programme funded the creation of a website that made publically available the locations and names of more than 9000 settlements in the flood affected area, along with dated updates of the flood extent, search capability and printable map options (http://floodmaps.lums.edu.pk/flood-map). Many NGOs and government agencies made use of this data, especially the Punjab Government’s disaster management portal (http://floodrelief.punjab.gov.pk).

This work is now an important input into the government’s new growth strategy emphasizing the importance of cities as engines of growth. One aim is to create a GIS-based information system for the Government of Punjab that provides spatial information on flood disaster, relief and reconstruction. The analytical component of the project will use the information tool to estimate the degree of mistargeting and identify its causes. The design of the information system is being utilized by the Federal Bureau of Statistics for the next population census that will enable monitoring of service delivery at the smallest administrative units (mauzas) country-wide. Importantly, Punjab Urban Unit has been using the methodology developed in this research for zoning of cities and mapping of services for optimal targeting of public investments to generate higher growth in Punjab cities; both Punjab and Sindh urban planning authorities have expressed an interest in taking this work forward.

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