Gendering Flood Early Warning Systems: The Case of Pakistan (2015)

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After the devastating 2010 flood in Pakistan, an early warning system (EWS) for river floods has been established in the Lai basin passing through the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Inequalities in society are amplified at the time of disasters, and EWS that are people-centred proved more effective in communicating risk and saving people. This article undertakes a gender analysis of Pakistan's EWS for each of the four pillars of people-centred EWS in order to highlight gendered and classed vulnerabilities to flood. Focus group discussions and key informant interviews were conducted with members of relevant institutions and communities in four neighbourhoods across the length of the Lai basin for understanding how gendered vulnerability impacts the acquisition of the risk messages, how congruent are the risk messages in EWS with gendered risk perception, and to what extent formal EWS enable or hinder behavioural responses to the risk messages. The EWS in the capital of Pakistan comes up short on all the criteria for a people-centred gender-sensitive EWS. Technocratic approach, lack of citizens? involvement and communication gap between the official jargonistic early warning messages and communities at risk are the major obstacles. Despite the establishment of ad hoc cells for addressing gender issues, gender is hardly operationalised and does not go beyond a token recognition.
Year: 2015
Language: English
In: Environmental Hazards 14: 312-328

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