With the flood water having barely disappeared, Pakistan is facing another imminent natural disaster. Cyclone Nilofer, classed a ‘very severe cyclonic storm’, is on course to make landfall near the coastal areas of eastern Sindh and Indian Gujrat. The recent floods have badly exposed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and related departments. Not only did it fail to anticipate the disaster, the subsequent management, response time, and relocation of the victims was a botched job at best; with the authorities two steps behind the rampaging waters. Cyclone Nilofer may be a shot at redemption; proving that the department has some semblance of professionalism and utility.

As far as preparations go, the advantage of an advance warning has allowed the NDMA and provincial authorities to take extensive measures. Hospitals are on alert, the Navy is on standby, all vessels have been recalled to the shore and an evacuation plan is in place. Pragmatic steps such as removing billboards that may become unhinged, and cleaning storm water drains in Karachi have also been taken. But how much of this is just talk for the media? Residents of Mubarak village complain that no official has made contact with them and the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) echo similar sentiments. Furthermore, while cyclones have relatively low causality rates, it causes serious economic damage to coastal properties. Has the government prepared a post-disaster plan? How to reconstruct and rebuild?

Considering that the cyclone will lose some of its strength before it hits and that it is angling towards the Indian coast, authorities can feel optimistic about their preparations. Yet, natural disasters are not known for their predictability, and Pakistani authorities are predictably inadequate. This is the litmus test for NDMA and it must not fail. It has no excuses; it knew the cyclone was coming. With nearby India as a reference point, the NDMA has nowhere to hide. It is time for them to perform, or perish.