Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Experts to discuss how vulnerable people be protected from disasters

Experts to discuss how vulnerable people be protected from disasters

A regional workshop is slated to begin from Wednesday in Kathmandu with the aim of finding out ways to protect the vulnerable population from worst consequences of disasters.

Experts from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, representing government, non-government, and community-based organisations, are meeting at a workshop in Kathmandu from 9-11 May, to discuss how women, children, the elderly and disabled and other marginalised groups can be included when planning and preparing to reduce the risk from disasters.

The workshop will provide an important platform for sharing experiences, exchanging information, and holding discussions related to 'social inclusion in disaster risk reduction', building on the knowledge from the four countries.

Worldwide, the South Asian region, which is among the poorest and most populated in the world, is also the hardest hit by natural disasters. Some 80% of all natural disasters are climate related and about 40% are related to floods. Poor communities, especially in the mountain areas of the region, are both the most vulnerable to natural disasters and the least prepared to cope with them.

The vulnerability aspect is important. Vulnerable and marginalised people – women, the elderly, and disabled – are more affected than others. Hence, disaster risk reduction is of great importance from both a development and a poverty alleviation point of view, as highlighted by one Indian civil servant: "Disasters work like the magnifying glass of a society. They magnify what is good and what needs sincere help. Disasters do not affect everyone equally. Who you are and what you do determine your fate. The strong and the weak stand out. This is true for gender issues as much as for other issues."

During the workshop three books will be launched on different aspects of knowledge related to disaster preparedness: one on the role of gender, and two on the importance of local knowledge in disaster preparedness (see attached summaries).

The workshop is financed by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department (DG ECHO) under the project 'Living with Risks – Sharing Knowledge on Disaster Preparedness in the Himalayan Region' being implemented by ICIMOD. The project is supporting key practitioners with current knowledge in the field of disaster preparedness, mainly in relation to floods, landslides, and earthquakes; and building capacity in multi hazard risk assessment; as well as providing a platform for interaction and exchange of experiences. sd May 08 07

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