Calcutta, Nov. 29, 2008 :
The disaster Preparedness and mitigation programme should be child centric, decided participants from nine South Asian countries during a workshop Nov. 26-28 in Calcutta.
Children can mobilise the parents and communities to understand the complex realities of disaster system, said Mr. Srdjan Stojanovic, Chief of Emergency Programme, UNICEF- India. Schools should enable the children to find out creative ways of disaster mitigation and response, said Ms. Shivangi Chavda from SEEDS India basing on her experience.
Schools have strong institutionalised system, schools have resources and upward and downward links. They can sustain efforts, added Ms. Chavda basing on her experience of working with the children in Gujarat after the Gujarat earthquake. Thus "School Disaster Management Plan" (SDMP) are important in every block, she added. SDMP in Gujarat are linked with the Government line departments and blocks for better coordination and implementation.
This is a good method which other states can emulate, said Fr. Puhtumai Nazarene, Director of Diocesan Social service society in Raiganj of Northern West Bengal. We do have school sensitization programme for Disaster Preparedness. We shall now promote school disaster Preparedness management Plan, added Fr. Puthumai who is involved in disaster response programme for a decade.
More than 100 participants working in disaster response programme in South Asia and Europe attended the Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction (CBDRR) Conference organised by UNICEF in Calcutta.
THE UNICEF Calcutta also made arrangements for the participants to visit four selected areas to understand the preparedness measures undertaken by the communities in the vulnerable villages of West Bengal. Ms. Parnasri Ray Chaudhury, Emergency Officer of UNICEF- Kolkata coordinated the exposure visits so that the participants can have a first hand knowledge of the CBDRR programme implemented by UNICEF and the Civil Defense Department of Government of WB financed by DIPECHO. Two of the four sites chosen are the diocesan social service centre working areas of Krishanagar and Baruipur diocese in South Bengal which are often affected by cyclone and floods. Fr. Robin Mondal of Krishanagar and Holy Cross Sister Sampoornam of Baruipur respectively guided the visitors to elaborate the CBDRR programme implemented in their areas for the poor villagers who have been capacitated to face the diasters.
The children demonstrated the importance of relief and rescue, swimming, knowledge about the village area and Early Warning signals during the exposure visit.
National School Safety programme has been taken up in 22 states, said Mr. Vinod Menon from National Disaster Management Authority, India. Out of the 1.13 billion population in India, 390 million are going to schools. Thus school safety is at the centre stage, added Mr. Menon who earlier worked with the UNICEF.
He elaborated the Disaster Management Act of 2005 where in Rupees 21,300 crore are allocated for relief works in India for five years.
From COMMUNITY Based Disaster Preparedness, the concept has evolved into Disaster mitigation, Management to Risk Reduction, said Mr. Menon quoting various examples.
Mr. Pieter Bult, Deputy Director of UNDP-India also spoke on UN policy related to Disaster Risk Reduction. Ms. Ann Hasselbalch, Deputy Director of UNICEF in India exhorted the participants to learn from each other for emergency preparedness.
Ms. Indira Kulenovic, coordinator and ADvisor for South Asia, DIPECHO programme elaborated the importance of local ownership for sustainability. DIPECHO created in 1996 is presently working in 166 countries. We need to make Hazard maps of vulnerable areas and make it available for the communities to use, added Ms. Indira.
WEst Bengal government has created a syllabus for schools in collaboration with UNICEF, said Dr. Srikumar Mukherjee, Minister for Civil Defense in WB. Soon the Government would bring out "Disaster Preparedness Plan", added Dr. Mukherjee while appreciating the efforts of the NGOs for Disaster Preparedness.
We need Psycho social counsellors for trauma counselling the disaster victims, said Mr. Dovan Lowali, Project Officer of UNICEF, Nepal.
Poverty and global warming cause more disasters, said Mr. Stojanovic, chief of Emergency programme in UNICEF India, Delhi. We need to make CBDRR a social movement in our communities added Mr. Stojanovic who regularly visits villages to interact with the communities.
We need to mainstream CBDRR in all our response programmes, said Mr. Vikrant Mhajan, chief Operating Officer of SPHERE India.
176 districts in 17 states are working for sustainable disaster Risk reduction programme, said Mr. G. Padmanabhan, Emergency Officer of UNDP, India. We need to instiutionalise the CBDRR programme for its sustainability, added Mr. Padmanabhanile critically evaluating the programme. Eight states have introduced Disaster Management as syllabus in the schools, he added.
Strengthening networking is essential for CBDRR, said Ms. Eilia Jafar, REgional DRR Officer of DIPECHO and International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC). Sharing her experience of working with seven countries in Asia, she invited the participants to take up the risks of everyday life alluding to the Mumbai bombings happening then on Oct. 27.
Community also needs psycho social support in disaster, said Ms. Memoona Chaudry, Project Officer of UNDP, Pakistan. She narrated her experience of working with the earth quake victims.
Mr. Bikram Mohapatro, Disability Coordinator Handicap International, India exhorted the participants to mainstream disability in CBDRR. We need to train Task Forces to deal with people of various differently abled people, said Mr. Mohapatro narrating his examples.
Promoting traditional knowledge to face disaster is one of our main strategies, elaborated Ms. Parnasri Ray Chaudhury who coordinated the conference proceedings.