A magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan, on October 8, 2005, at 8:50 a.m. local time. The epicenter of the earthquake was located near Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir, and approximately 60 miles away from Islamabad, Pakistan. The disaster has already killed more than 50,000 people, injured some 74,000 others and left over 3 million more homeless.The aftermath of the earthquake has brought up the urgency to develop disaster risk reduction and management policies, nine months after the adoption of the Hyogo Framework for Action at the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe, Japan, January 2005, a ten-year plan to combat natural disasters. According to the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), in the broader sense of the expression, disaster reduction involves all measures designed to avoid or limit the adverse impact of natural hazards and related environmental and technological disasters. Authorities truly need to ensure an institutionalized dialogue mechanism and adopt an integrated, comprehensive and multi-hazard strategy for disaster risk reduction, including prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery and rehabilitation. Particular focus is required in the following areas: 1. Gaps in knowledge for disaster risk assessment: a first step towards more concerted and coordinated global action on disaster risk reduction must be a clear understanding of the depth and extent of hazard, vulnerability and disaster loss; 2. Governance for risk management: appropriate governance for disaster risk management is a fundamental requirement if risk considerations are to be factored into development planning, and if existing risks are to be successfully mitigated; 3. Mainstreaming disaster risk into development planning: development needs to be regulated in terms of its impact on disaster risk; 4. Integrated climate risk management: building on capacities that deal with existing disaster risk is an effective way to generate capacity to deal with future climate change risk; 5. Managing the multifaceted nature of risk: Natural hazard is one among many potential threats to life and livelihood; 6. Compensatory risk management: In addition to reworking the disaster-development relationship, a legacy of risk accumulation exists today and there is a need to improve disaster preparedness and response. How the world responds to the current and future disasters will demonstrate to what extent the Hyogo Framework, as well as other plans, actually produce an impact in our practices. Collaborating in the production of this highlight was Muhammad Taimur Ali Khan, virtual intern, Development Gateway, from City Dera Ismail Khan, North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan.
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