Workshop on Impact-Based Forecasting and Anticipatory Action planning held in Islamabad, Pakistan

A workshop on “Impact-Based Forecasting (IBF) and Anticipatory Action planning” was held in Islamabad, Pakistan on Tuesday, the 31st of January 2023. The workshop was organized by the Pakistan Meteorological Department, in collaboration with RIMES and FAO.

The attendees included senior representatives from Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Geological Survey of Pakistan and other key sectoral agencies in Pakistan. Other participants included representatives from non-governmental institutions such as ECHO, WFP, UN-OCHA, UNDP and ICIMOD among others.

At the workshop, chief guest, Mr. Idrees Mahsud, Member Disaster Risk Reduction at NDMA appreciated the contribution of FAO and RIMES towards resilience building in Pakistan, especially through their continuous efforts in strengthening collaboration among the stakeholders. He emphasized the increasing need for strengthening forecasting capabilities, dissemination mechanisms, and creating an understanding of what forecast and warning means.

“The series of recent catastrophes in Pakistan has strengthened the resolve of the government to strengthen the national emergency operation system which will not only cater to response but also for resilience, mitigation, and preparedness before the onset of disasters.”, he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Mehar Sahibzad Khan, Director General, Pakistan Meteorological Department-PMD said that IBF and anticipatory action are emerging areas and there is a pending need for standardization of these approaches. He said that the Pakistan Meteorological Department has been actively making progress from hazard-based forecasting to impact-based forecasting.

Currently, the IBF approach is being implemented in select districts of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with the support of Punjab Agriculture Department and is expected to be refined and extended to other districts in the near future. The process of establishing viable impact based forecasting and warning systems, and anticipatory action planning is reliant on strong collaboration and coordination among the sectoral partner agencies. This, however, has been identified as the biggest challenge so far which has caused considerable hurdles in streamlining the desired processes. Acknowledging the support, Mr. Khan noted that PMD is open to collaboration and partnerships to attain desired results.

In her closing remarks, Ms. Florence Rolle, FAO Representative in Pakistan stressed on the need for the government to take interest and ownership of programs supported by various partners for ensuring sustainable results. She also thanked the participants and encouraged them to build strategic partnerships for effective implementation of such programs.

“The more all partners work in harmony, the better and easier it is to achieve objectives.”, she said.

During the workshop, presentations were made by Dr. K J Ramesh (Senior Advisor, RIMES), Dr. Zaheer Ahmad Babar (Director National Weather Forecasting Center, PMD), Dr. Sarfaraz (Chief Meteorologist, RMC, Karachi, PMD), Ms. Asma Jawad (Director National Agro-met Center, PMD), Mr. Damien Riquet (Anticipatory Action Expert, FAO), Mr. Atif Khan (Program Manager, FBF German Red Cross), Mr. Naeem Iqbal (Social Protection and Resilience Specialist, FAO). The presentations focused on steps in implementing IBF and warning services, the importance of building partnerships for IBF and elements of partnerships and best practices for effective communication in disseminating IBF and reducing risks.

Impact-based forecasts and warnings are increasingly being used worldwide to communicate the risks and potential impacts of climate-related disasters to the end users, thus enabling anticipatory action planning and reducing the impacts of these disasters. There is a growing understanding, need, and demand for providing scientifically accurate information for people to timely and efficiently respond to risk.

The workshop was organized as part of the ‘Strengthening Last Mile Communications’ program, which is being implemented in four countries across the South Asia region including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. It aims to work on climate resilience through effective dissemination of timely early warning information among last-mile users for improved disaster preparedness and risk mitigation. The program is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through UCAR - The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and implemented by RIMES.