The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has decided to introduce 105 monitoring systems that will provide valuable insights into the weather for the next 10 days. The hope is that upon looking at global patterns, we may be able to decipher certain warnings and prepare ourselves accordingly. Given the degree of devastation caused by the recent floods, such a step could be a useful tool in natural disaster management—provided it is accompanied by contingency plans as well.

The initiative to improve the forecasting system comes in the backdrop of enhanced cooperation with the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) for improving Pakistan’s response to climate change. The country’s problem right now is the absence of a disaster management plan due to which, despite weather predictions, immense losses are suffered. The infrastructure, resources and funds needed to install protective measures simply do not exist or if they do, they are not utilised properly.

What this means is that we have skipped the first few steps we needed to take to become more prepared. A 10-day accurate weather prediction and monitoring system will do well in giving the alerts and warnings beforehand but it would be a shame if this lifesaving information—and initiative—is put to waste because of the absence of a disaster management plan. A warning is only useful if there are certain precautions that can be taken to avoid disastrous circumstances.

Having said all this, we cannot take away from the fact that this enhanced monitoring system may be more accurate and helpful in the future. Advanced technology is being used and we are making the move away from the traditional method of making an educated guess by observing surrounding weather conditions. This gives us enough information to safely predict the weather for the next few days whereas the new system will extend the timeline for more than 10 days. This timeline could be enough to change our approach to disaster management entirely but for it to be a success, we need pre-existing contingency plans which can be relied on and improved upon.