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India & Pacific: Sustainability of Disaster Response Systems

India joins the Pacific to discuss need for Sustainability of Disaster Response Systems

Suva, Fiji, 7 March 2013 – Community members and practitioners are concerned that disaster response systems as well as disaster risk reduction initiatives are not being sustained.

The knowledge-sharing forum Pacific Solution Exchange (PSE) is making this its number one discussion across all Pacific islands over the next week, with over 3000 practitioners in India also joining the exchange.

Initiating the conversation is Independent Development Professional for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), Mr Kada Antony Benny, who has worked with many communities on response and risk reduction initiatives both before and in the aftermath of disasters, including the Orissa Super Cyclone (1999) and Indian Ocean Tsunami (2004).

“In all my assignments, the DRR programme was implemented well with the community and other stakeholders, but after the completion of the projects the stakeholders and the communities did not take much interest in keeping the initiatives alive,” Mr Kada Antony Benny said.

“Therefore, the hardware and software structures created during the programme slowly got destroyed; in some places buildings such as cyclone shelters fell into disuse and became places for anti-social gatherings; and invested resources on social structures such as Task Forces became defunct, thus bringing down all efforts and investments made.”

He said the challenge is to ensure the sustainability of DRR programmes long after the crisis has ended and, for this reason, he is asking DRR professionals and community members to share their personal stories and lessons learned about how programs may be sustained long term.

It is hoped the discussion will help all of those studying or working in DRR to ensure programs are still operating ready to help the local community if another disaster strikes, as failure to sustain these activities during non-disaster periods leaves the community highly vulnerable.

“If the community is hit by another disaster, there would be no difference in the way it affects them, so, reviving and rejuvenating DRR activities constantly is essential.”

The discussion about sustaining DRR programs continues until 13 March 2013, with people invited to become part of the conversation. Joining is free: www.solutionexchange-un.net/pacific

The Pacific Solution Exchange is an email-based knowledge sharing service that enables people across the Pacific to ask each other queries and share answers, insights, experiences and lessons learned to help each other in their climate change and disaster risk work. It has over 1300 members including practitioners, students, government, concerned Elders, and community members in remote islands. PSE is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Centre with support from Australian Aid (AusAID).

ENDS

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