Date & Time: October 15, 2020 at 11:00 am

Handbook Launched by : Ms Anne Lee Sheshadri

Moderator: Dr D Dhanuraj

Panellists: Dr Muralee Thummarukudy, Dr Nivedita P Haran IAS (Retd), Dr Himanshu Grover and Dr Shekhar Kuriakose

Proceedings Report

  • About the Event: The Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) organised a virtual book launch of Community Resilience Handbook for Disaster Preparedness and Management. This handbook is a compilation of learnings from the three disaster management workshops conducted in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode in association with the US Consulate General in Chennai and the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA). Ms Ann Lee Sheshadri, Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate General in Chennai, released the handbook which has been published in English as well as Malayalam. The book launch was followed by a panel discussion on All-Hazards Approach to Community-Based Disaster Risk Mitigation.
  • Key Speakers: Ms Ann Lee Sheshadri, Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate General in Chennai, Dr Muralee Thummarukudy, Chief of Disaster Risk Reduction, UNEP;  Dr Himanshu Grover, Co-Director of the Institute for Hazard Mitigation and Planning, University of Washington; Dr Shekhar Kuriakose, Member Secretary, KSDMA and Dr Nivedita P Haran IAS (Retd) Honorary Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development
  • Mr Moulik D Berkana, Cultural Affairs Officer, US Consulate General in Chennai delivered the welcome and introductory remarks.
  • Dr D Dhanuraj, Chairman, CPPR moderated the session.
  • Ms Neethu Nair, Manager, PR and Communications, CPPR concluded the session with a vote of thanks.

Panel Discussion Summary

  • The topic for the panel discussion was All-Hazards Approach to Community-Based Disaster Risk Mitigation.
  • Speaking about Kerala’s disaster preparedness, Dr Muralee Thummarukudy pointed out that during a disaster majority of lives are saved by family members and the local community. Therefore, the first investment should be in the community to raise awareness and capacity.
  • KSDMA in association with several stakeholders has put together a massive workforce (1 volunteer per 100 population) to be the first responders in their community. Now, every Panchayat in the State has a detailed local disaster response plan.
  • He also highlighted the integration of climate change and disaster management as one of the standing items in the local self-government budget in Kerala.
  • According to Dr Thummarukudy, the three elements i.e., empowering the community with knowledge, resources and roles would make a significant difference in due course for disaster management in Kerala. 
  • Dr Nivedita P Haran spoke about the importance of scientific and empirical data in disaster management as well as the need for policies to be based on such data.
  • She pointed out that the effective usage of ICT and social media during Kerala floods helped not only to reach out to the last mile but also to get information from the last mile and said it should be a lesson for other regions to adopt from. Agreeing with Dr Thummarukudy, she reiterated that any mitigation measures can happen only when it starts at the local level.
  • The role of youth and women in knowledge sharing and support has been found effective in Kerala. Sharing her experience, she stated that disaster response has been effective whenever women came together for knowledge building and awareness building, as they exceptionally plan ahead. 
  • Dr Himanshu Grover spoke about the role of academia in building capacity and training the local population. Academia plays a major role in providing a true analysis of the risk with scientific and empirical data for governments to respond with.
  • As disaster memories can fade away, academia can help in documenting the adaptive framework and perpetuating that across generations and fields to disclose how it was done and improve future disaster risk reduction policies.
  • Dr Grover urged academia to start thinking about response and resilience in a broader context; to go beyond the basic cost-benefit analysis and look into risk exposure or the environmental impact of development projects. 
  • Dr Shekhar Kuriakose gave insights on the role of KSDMA and how it works closely with all departments in the State.
  • He stressed on the need to discuss policy interventions on environment protection in the public domain as this will increase the public’s awareness on disaster risk reduction.
  • There is a need to make disaster prevention everybody’s business: discussing and planning before building anything. The current pandemic is another reminder to intensify our commitment to disaster management and preparedness. 

The report is prepared by Angela Cicily Joseph, Research Associate, CPPR.

Click here to view the video recording of the Book Launch and Panel Discussion

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