While inaugurating the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) in New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today outlined a 10-point agenda for renewing efforts towards disaster risk reduction.
Let’s have a look at PM Modi’s 10-point agenda below:
First: All development sectors must imbibe the principles of disaster risk management. Over the next couple of decades, most of the new infrastructure in the world will come up in our region. We need to ensure that we build it to best available standards of disaster safety.
Second: PM emphasized of working towards risk coverage for all – starting from poor households to small and medium enterprises to multi-national corporations to nation states.
We need to think big and also think innovatively. States have an important role in not just regulating but also encouraging coverage for those who need it the most. In India, we have taken bold steps to ensure financial inclusion and risk insurance for the poorest,” PM said.
Third: Encourage greater involvement and leadership of women in disaster risk management. Women are disproportionately affected by disasters. They also have unique strengths and insights. We must train a large number of women volunteers to support special needs of women affected by disasters. We need women engineers, masons and building artisans supporting reconstruction, and women self help groups assisting livelihood recovery.
Fourth: Invest in risk mapping globally. For mapping risks related to hazards such as earthquakes we have widely accepted standards and parameters. Based on these, in India, we have mapped seismic zones, with five as highest seismic risk and two as low risk. For disaster risk related to other hazards such as chemical hazards, forest fires, cyclones, different types of floods, we need to evolve similar globally accepted risk categories. This will help us ensure that we have a common understanding of the nature and severity of disaster risks in different parts of the world.
Fifth: Leverage technology to enhance the efficiency of our disaster risk management efforts. An e-platform that brings together organizations and individuals and helps them map and exchange expertise, technology and resources would go a long way in maximizing our collective impact.
Sixth: Develop a network of universities to work on disaster issues. After all, universities have social responsibilities too. Over the first five years of the Sendai Framework, we should develop a global network of universities working together on problems of disaster risk management. As part of this network, different universities could specialize in multi-disciplinary research on disaster issues most relevant to them. Universities located in coastal areas could specialize in managing risks from coastal hazards, and the ones located in the hill cities could focus on mountain hazards.
Seventh: Utilize the opportunities provided by social media and mobile technologies. Social media is transforming disaster response. It is helping response agencies in quickly organizing themselves, and enabling citizens to connect more easily with authorities. In disaster after disaster, affected people are using social media to help each other. We must recognize the potential of social media and develop applications for all aspects of disaster risk management.
Eighth: Build on local capacity and initiative. The task of disaster risk management, particularly in rapidly growing economies, is so huge that formal institutions of the state can at best be instrumental in creating the enabling conditions. Specific actions have to be designed and implemented locally. Over the last two decades, most community based efforts have been confined to disaster preparedness and contingency planning for the short term. We need to expand the scope of community based efforts and support communities to identify local risk reduction measures and implement them. Such efforts reduce risk and create opportunities for local development and sustainable livelihoods. Localization of disaster risk reduction will also ensure that we make the most of traditional best practices and indigenous knowledge.
Ninth: Ensure that the opportunity to learn from a disaster is not wasted. After every disaster there are papers and reports on lessons learnt that are rarely applied. Often the same mistakes are repeated. We need a more vibrant and visual system of learning. The United Nations could start an international competition of documentary films that record disaster events, their scale, and relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery afterwards.
Post-disaster recovery is an opportunity to not just ‘build back better’ in terms of physical infrastructure, but also in terms of improved institutional systems for managing risk. For this we need to put in place systems that can quickly provide risk assessments. India will work with partner countries and multilateral development agencies to establish a facility for technical support to post-disaster reconstruction of houses.
Tenth: Bring about greater cohesion in international response to disasters. In the aftermath of a disaster, disaster responders pour in from all over the world. This collective strength and solidarity could be enhanced further if we work under a common umbrella. The United Nations could think of a common logo and branding under which all those who are helping with relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction operate. Armed Forces protect nation states against external security threats. But to deal with disasters, we need to equip society with the right education.