KP distributes solar-powered radios in disaster-prone areas for better communication

KP distributes solar-powered radios in disaster-prone areas for better communication
Solar streetlights being installed at Peshawar Cantt. (White Star/ File Photo)
Updated 03 August 2019

KP distributes solar-powered radios in disaster-prone areas for better communication

KP distributes solar-powered radios in disaster-prone areas for better communication
  • So far, 500 gadgets have been distributed among residents of districts that are vulnerable to flash floods
  • Most of these places face severe communication problems, with no landlines facilities and patchy cellphone services

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Relief, Rehabilitation and Settlement Department has started distributing solar-powered radios for disaster preparedness and management in areas like Chitral and Swat that are prone to flash floods, said an official on Saturday.
“The basic purpose of this initiative is to keep the community informed about potential floods and glacial outbursts by sending them early warning messages,” said the department’s spokesperson, Latif-ur-Rehman, while talking to Arab News. “These places are vulnerable to such disasters and lack communication facilities, such as landlines and mobile phone networks. It sometimes takes us six hours to convey message to the community.”
The radio distribution and awareness program began on August 1 and it will continue till September 15. The radio programs envisioned for the area will focus on natural disasters, especially floods, and will also highlight the potential damage from such calamities, the precautionary measures that can be taken against them, and government interventions in terms of its relief efforts.
So far, the department has distributed about 500 radio sets that can also be charged through their rotating handles in the absence of the sun.
“These radio sets are given to every sixth household in these areas so they can also help inform the rest of the community. The information will be delivered through both FM and AM radio stations,” Rehman informed.
The authorities have engaged the Pakhtunkhwa Radio, Sunno FM and Radio Pakistan to broadcast special programs for these areas in their local languages.
Hayat Muhammad Kalami, a local journalist, applauded the government for taking these steps.
“Timely communication can help reduce flood damages to the minimum,” he said. “Communication is always a major problem in this region and it is important to deal with that challenge.”
Kalami told Arab News that landline communication in the area had been suspended since 2010 when a flood wiped out the whole cable line of the Pakistan Telecommunications Limited. Even the mobile phone operators provided patchy service in the area, sometimes completely cutting off its residents from the rest of the country.
Dr. Hameed Jamali, who teaches development studies in Peshawar, noted that the government had set the duration of the program in view of the glacier melting period that ranged from July to September.
“In theory, the use of radio for disaster preparedness is a very good strategy,” he added. “However, it is important to ensure the effectiveness of the drill and the messages must be produced in such a way that they yield the desired results.”