School children teach disaster response - International Day for Disaster Reduction

09 Oct 2010

October 9, New Delhi : Thousands of school children and teachers living in some of India's most disaster prone states will put their school safety and evacuation plans into practice tomorrow, demonstrating how people of all ages can prepare for disasters like floods and earthquakes. We have seen that when people know what to do if disaster strikes, lives are saved, says United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in India, Maxine Olson.
October 10 is the International Day for Disaster Reduction and the theme this year is: disaster risk reduction begins at school. The school drills and other more long-term work in the education sector like building safer schools and teaching lessons about disaster sare one part of a major Government and UNDP initiative aimed at helping millions of people in India to reduce the impact of disasters on their lives. Across 17 States, communities, civil society and government have raised awareness about disasters, found ways to make their built environment safer, and drawn-up local response plans. These efforts are now saving lives. For example, in Orissa, during the recent floods, Self Help Groups trained under the initiative joined the relief response in their areas—collecting clean water, food and medical supplies and floating these to stranded villagers, sustaining them until more help could reach them.

Meanwhile in Srinagar, this initiative is training local religious leaders. Now, during Friday prayers, more and more people are learning what they can do to protect themselves before, during and after earthquakes. Over the past decade cyclones, floods, earthquakes and other disasters have affected nearly six percent of IndiaÂ’s people, destroying homes, incomes and lives. As populations grow its more critical than ever for people of all ages and backgrounds to know how to protect themselves before, during and after disasters. This kind of knowledge and preparation saves lives. We commend the childrens efforts on this International Day for Disaster Reduction, and encourage more people to get involved, Ms. Olson says.

Notes to the editor:
The Governments Vulnerability Reduction through Disaster Risk Management Programme works in 169 of India's most hazard prone districts (in 17 states). It has been running since 2002. UNDP provides technical assistance and funding to this programme. Other funding comes from: The European Union, the European Commission for Humanitarian Aid, USAID, UK Department for International Development, Government of Japan, Australian Agency for International Development. The 17 states where the programme works are: Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Delhi.

In India, UNDP works to support governments (at all levels) and communities in villages and towns to bring the marginalized into decision-making processes, improve their access to government services, expand their income opportunities, and conserve the natural resources that are often their main source of income. At the same time, UNDP supports the government and vulnerable groups to stem the spread of HIV by expanding awareness, alliances and action beyond the health sector. In areas prone to natural disasters, UNDP helps further efforts aimed at building the resilience of communities at risk.