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India needs to continue its efforts for Disaster Response Preparedness as shown during Covid-19 —— Maj Gen Manoj K Bindal, Executive Director NIDM

India needs to continue its efforts for disaster response preparedness as per our capacities with the whole of the society approach as per the call given by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During the ongoing COVID-19 period we have seen the whole of the society mobilisation where all civil society organisations came forward which was hand holded by the CSR sector under the leadership of the government. This spirit must continue for disaster risk reduction and better response mitigation, said Major General Manoj K Bindal, Executive Director, National Institute of Disaster Management in Delhi.  

He was addressing a Workshop organised by Sphere India, in collaboration with the NIDM, to commemorate International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (IDDRR Day) 2021 on 13 Oct 2021.

The Workshop saw the release of handbooks on six key thematic sectors of emergency response. The six handbooks on- Health, Shelter, Education, Food and Nutrition, Water & Sanitation and Protection act as an operational manual for stakeholder coordination during emergencies and have been compiled through comprehensive research with a number of prestigious agencies working in the field of disaster risk reduction.

While delivering his keynote address, Maj Gen Manoj K Bindal spoke of the critical role of a flexible and participatory coordination mechanism for efficient disaster risk mitigation and management during a crisis.

“COVID-19 in particular has brought everyone together for the first time in history in the disaster response. It has proven that today the need of the day is to work together, collaborate together and to have participatory approach and work towards the common goal by helping each other both in thoughts and action and in material. In this context, these handbooks will be essential to improve coordination between all stakeholders- including central and state and local governments, INGOs, CSOs, NGOs, and the affected communities,” Maj Gen. Bindal said.

Dr. Rajat Jain President, Doctors for You, Co-Lead Health Committee said for disaster like situation proper coordinated effort must be required. We need the organizations which can create a balance between the government institutes, civil societies and CSR partners so that all the efforts bare channelised to a particular place with common aim which is the benefit of the society.

“There must be someone in mobilising the resources, material and manpower both. He emphasised on the importance of 8th point of the PM 10 Point agenda i.e local capacity development. The biggest challenge in a medical crisis is proper training,” Dr. Jain said.  

He said coordinators must be available for mobilising the resources. Idea is not to do all the work but train more people on the same line so that more and more sectors can be created on a larger scale. For that we need to build our capacity in such a way so that we have the capacity for a bigger response in a shorter time. There should be identification and mapping of the people and organisations by the government who are working in specialised sectors related with disaster management.

Mr Vikrant Mahajan, CEO Sphere India, said that this was a milestone moment for Sphere India especially on the occasion of IDDRR day when globally stakeholders and collaborators come together and review their commitments for reducing disasters and disaster risks and leaving no one behind. “The launch of these handbooks in India is a big step towards translating global goals at the national as well as local levels.”

Mr Sarabjit Singh Sahota, Emergency Specialist, DRR Section, UNICEF India, said that “the Handbooks will fill a critical gap area and show the relevance of the social sector in Emergency Response. The handbooks give clarity on the difference between development programming and emergency programming and the role that the social sector plays in this”.

Prof. Santosh Kumar, NIDM stressed on community engagement at the inception of any program, especially in DRR to ensure that the needs of the community are met and its risks and vulnerabilities are mitigated. He said that SphereIndia and NIDM have followed this mandate in the formulation of these handbooks.

Several leading humanitarian agencies including Mr Justin Jebakumar, Director of Government Relations, Habitat for Humanity India; Prof Anil K Gupta, Head ECDRM, NIDM; Ms Lee Macqueen, Sr Program Manager, NCDHR, and Dr Rajat Jain, president, Doctors for You also spoke on this occasion. Dr Henna Hejazi, Sr Program Manager, Sphere India and Dr Sweta Baidya, Consultant, NIDM coordinated the event.

Prof Anil Kr. Gupta, Head ECDRM, NIDM, mentioned that the efforts for developing these handbooks started before the pandemic and are a culmination of almost two years of efforts by Sphere India and NIDM with over 20 consultative meetings and COVID-19 Academy webinars while developing them.  “The handbooks have linkages with the PMs 10 point agenda on DRR, especially point 8 as this initiative is geared towards developing local capacities”.

Lee Macqueen, Sr.Program Manager, NCDHR and Vice Chair Sphere India and Lead Protection Committee briefly explained all aspects of  the Handbook with practical guidance and advice on how different stakeholders and sector actors like NGOs, CSOs, Government at all levels, UN agencies, and Media can come together and strategise a collective response and preparedness during  emergencies, prior to emergencies and post emergencies which are based on key humanitarian principles on needs, without discrimination. “It provides uniform guidance, advice, what could be the approach to strengthen our preparedness and guidelines for contingency planning at National, State and local level,” Lee said.

Shruti Misra Co-Lead, DRR, HCL Foundation said CSR utilisation should be in effective way in rehabilitation and resettlement. There should be Comprehensive Risk Management Technology for predicting the vulnerability loss bad risk assessment. She said that we need to educate CSR and it's Impact among masses and corporate houses.

Justin Jebakumar, Director of Government Relations, Habitat for Humanity India, Lead Shelter Committee talked about the shelter sector which stays for too long in a disaster cycle. He said we need to engage the community in the process. Building codes to be followed in construction work. How the land should be selected, what kind of technology whether it’s a load bearing structure or a frame structure. 

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