Taking forward the regional consensus and operationalising disaster risk reduction in South Asia
A three day regional consultation in Sri Lanka, 23-25 August 2007
People in South Asia eagerly look forward to the monsoon season. Monsoons are vital to the region's agriculture. But the monsoon season this year in many parts of the region such as Bihar in India, and in some parts of Bangladesh and† Nepal claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people by drowning, landslides, house collapses or electrocution.
Every year the South Asia region faces recurrent floods, droughts, river erosion and landslides. Located in the coastal belt, the region is also handicapped by cyclones, tidal surge, tornadoes, the recent Tsunami and climate change, while its location in the seismic belt brings disasters like earthquakes. In South Asia most socio-natural disasters have a regional dimension. Therefore, local or national actions alone can not deliver sustainable solutions.†The increasing trend of disasters in the region in recent years calls for a regional disaster management action plan for South Asia.
A first step towards this was the 'Disaster Management in South Asia: A Comprehensive Regional Framework for Action 2005-2015' which was adopted at the Expert Group Meeting held in Dhaka in February 2006.† Further, a South Asian Policy Dialogue was convened in New Delhi in August 2006 and as a result of this meeting 'New Delhi Declaration on a 'South Asian Regional Consensus on Disaster Management' was prepared in line with the Regional Framework of Action of February 2006.† Again at the Global Platform for Disaster Reduction in June 2007 in Geneva the importance of regional consensus and action to reach the goals of disaster reduction by 2015 was re-emphasized.
Currently there are considerable efforts towards disaster reduction by the national governments, international and local development organizations and the UN agencies in the region. Despite this, there are gaps and inadequacies in the required levels of risk reduction outcomes, and in coordination and action by varying organizations.† In order to review the progress and the current status of disaster risk reduction in the region the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights in Sri Lanka and Practical Action South Asia organised a two day consultation on 23rd to 25th of August 2007 at the TransAsia Hotel. Key government representatives from Ministries and other development organisations in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Maldives are expected attend this consultation.
The key aims of this consultation are to review the progress on the disaster risk reduction related issues in the region, identify areas which need further attention and recommend ways to move forward, and agree on priorities for Regional Consensus in South Asia. Some of the themes that will be discussed in the this consultation are incorporation of DRR into development planning and having adequate methodologies/ tools and capacity, regional hazard vulnerability mapping and early warning systems, SAARC centers functions towards disaster risk reduction.
This consultation will help to gain concurrence on priorities for South Asia and a regional consensus.† The outcomes of the consultation are expected to feed into the forthcoming Asian Ministerial Meeting scheduled for November 2007 in New Delhi.†
Practical Action South Asia, Duryog Nivaran and the National Institute of Disaster Management organised the South Asia Policy Dialogue- a regional conference on disaster risk reduction in South Asia. This regional level conference was held in New Delhi from the 21st and 22nd August 2006.