"When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on." –Franklin D. Roosevelt

Preventing flood disasters

Floods are the most common natural disaster in Pakistan. They are one of the most destructive natural hazards. Floods cause power outages, damage infrastructure, trigger landslides, and can be deadly. The recent thunderstorms in Karachi in a short period of time caused water to rise rapidly, and elevated the risk of flooding. We should be prepared beforehand to prevent flood disasters and learn how to minimise our risk. Here are some safety tips to help you prepare for rising water – and what to do once a flood has begun. 1) Introduce better flood warning systems: Pakistan must improve its flood warning systems, giving people more time to take action during flooding, potentially saving lives. Advance warning and pre-planning can significantly reduce the impact from flooding. 2) Modify homes and businesses to help them withstand floods: The focus should be on flood resilience rather than defence schemes. Concreting floors and replacing materials with more robust alternatives is one way. 3) Tackle climate change: Climate change has contributed to a rise in extreme weather events, scientists believe. It is now crucial that authorities work on environmental policy-making. 4) Improve soil conditions: Inappropriate soil management, machinery and animal hooves can cause soil to become compacted so that instead of absorbing moisture, holding it and slowly letting it go, water runs off it immediately. Well drained soil can absorb huge quantities of rainwater, preventing it from running into rivers. 5) Put up more flood barriers: Temporary or “demountable” defences should be put up in at-risk areas. 6) Drains must be kept clean: Adequate draining can prevent flooding. Keep debris and leaves out of the drains and keep them clean so that the drains are not overflowed by rain water. We are going to have to live with flooding. It's here to stay. We need to be prepared.

Hassam Khan,

Instil in the young the spirit of patriotism

There are the Independence Day celebrations at the national levels. There are also school-level Independence Day celebrations with many exciting and patriotic activities. Unfortunately, that sense of patriotism seems to stop there once the celebrations are over. As it is, we don’t really have many chances to show our patriotism. We can only do so during national sporting events such as a cricket match or hockey finals. Sometimes, national tragedies can also bring the nation together. But do we have to wait for such events or tragedies before we feel patriotic? Can we try to do so at other times too? How can we create future generations who love the country in a true sense? John F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; but ask what you can do for your country.” Oftentimes, we feel that the country owes us a living. Hence, we become very demanding and often frustrated when we don’t get our way. At the same time, we rarely ask ourselves what our contribution to society has been. As parents, we may also inadvertently create this entitlement mentality in our kids. They may be trained from young that they’re entitled to the latest gadgets when we keep buying them new things even if they don’t deserve it. They need to learn to earn their living so they can break the cycle by offering their best services and efforts before expecting the same. Regularly ask them these questions, “What can you contribute positively to Pakistan? How can Pakistan be a better place because you live here?” These are powerful questions that should prompt their thoughts towards contributing to the country, and not just merely fulfilling their personal objectives. Once this is done, we can be assured that the great stories of the nation’s founding fathers will be kept alive for many generations to come.

Suhaira Nadeem,