Saturday, November 28, 2009

Strengthening Disaster Risk Reduction Programs

On 25-27 Nov 2009, Caritas India was conducting a workshop on preparing an Emergency Response Team at the Zonal level covering the States of Chattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal. I was asked to take a session on Needs Assessment on 25th and on Networking and Coordination on 26th. Since the invitation suddenly came on 25th from the national Emergency Officer of Caritas India, I could not refuse it. I quickly worked on the material available with me, and gave the presentations and took questions from participants. On 28th, there was a review meeting of the Community Based Disaster Preparedness project supported by Caritas India, with Mr. Peter Siedel of Caritas Germany, Mr. Karl Ammann, consultant to Caritas India, and Mr. Sunil Mammen, Emergency Officer, Caritas India present at the meeting.

In discussions that followed, besides various other things relating to the program, two new things came in strongly, though there were many other things that are of equal or more importance. But because these are in someway new, they drew my attention a lot more.

Firstly, disaster preparedness programs must also have a "MessageTransfer Tracking System". This is important specially in times of disaster to check on information flow (e.g. early warning) and to study how and if communication reached the community at all.

Secondly, it is essential to segregate core components of disaster preparedness from secondary components of development and mitigation within the disaster preparedness / Disaster risk reduction programs, in order to understand the impact of the preparatory measures and risk reduction measures.

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