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Oxfam NDMA Regional Conference REPORT

Oxfam NDMA Regional Conference REPORT

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Published by Amjad Nazeer

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Published by: Amjad Nazeer on Nov 24, 2012
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REGIONAL CONSULTATION EPORT“Engaging SAARC for Disaster Resilience”Organized by Oxfam and NDMA at Islamabad Club, Islamabad(1-2 November 2012)
Report by: Amjad Nazeer 
DAY ONEI - Inaugural Session:
The workshop began with the recitation from the Holy Quran. While delivering welcomeaddress Cherian Mathews, Deputy Regional Director, Oxfam GB, thanked eminentparticipants from all the South Asian countries that mainly included the government, civilsociety, academic and media representatives.
Opening Remarks by Dr. Zafar Qadir Chairman NDMA, Pakistan:
 Welcoming the participants, he said: You are all here for a two days consultation to gelthe views from governments, civil society, media, academics and other circles. Althoughwe have got intergovernmental forum in the shape of SAARC but communication in thefield of disaster response is limited. Oxfam came with an admirable idea of thinking andworking together. I welcome the efforts of all the organizations that made it happen.Thanks to colleagues from all over south Asian Countries.Hindu Kush Himalaya is one of the most disaster prone regions in the world. Scientificanalyses say that the region is going to face many more disasters with addedfrequency. We might have many more natural surprises in terms of time, geography andincidences. Our monsoon has already shifted. Its intensity is increasing every year. It isa challenge for Pakistan and so is for India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka andMaldives. Riverine floods in Bangladesh are well known. We have seen earthquakes,floods, tsunami, landslides, mudslides and what not. You name a disaster we have ithere and all is interconnected. If it snows in Nepal, it affects India. If it snows in India, itaffects Pakistan. If it rains heavily in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, it affects Pakistan. Andif an earthquake jolts Afghanistan, it shakes Pakistan too.
It is time to wake up. Disasters do not recognize political boundaries. Shared policy andresponse mechanism and data sharing is important. Protecting life and livelihood of thepeople should be the idea across countries. We need to put our heads together. Westrongly believe that member states in SAARC as well as non-governmental partnersneed to be aware of the potential threats think together about how to come out ofemergencies. What is most important in this regard is managing knowledge. It isscattered in bits and pieces. Some lies with universities, some with academia and muchof that with NGOs and media archives. Collecting and analyzing it for effective disasterresponse is important. We need to share what seismic threats this region has got andwhat lies ahead for communities, infra-structure and livelihoods to workout collectiveplans. In other words, we need to be well prepared to face disasters. We need toupgrade our infrastructures to resist impending disasters.With an 8 to 9 months extensive effort, we have developed an effective response planhere in Pakistan. It will surely help us better in building better future. The government isalso helping us in this regard. We are formulating relevant policies and setting inpractices. Our national response plan is now at the final stage of approval. We arebuilding capacities and filling out gaps. Public schools prove to be safe havens duringan disasters, therefore schools need to be developed and strengthened. We arestruggling to turn our schools into safe zones. We are building a system of stockpilesand establishing an active and vibrant force. Rescue 911 now takes 9 minutes to reachsomewhere in the city of Islamabad. We are trying to replicate this response force inother parts of the country i.e. in Gilgit Baltistan, Pakhtunekhuah and Sindh. Be it naturalor manmade emergency our response force should be capable of deal with it in aminimum possible amount of time. Apart from responding to natural accidents, it shouldhave a capacity to deal with gas leakage, building collapses, fires or any other similarincidence. India and Pakistan both have response forces and other countries can thinkover to evolve a similar system.This is the time when public and private bodies are joining hands to multiply theirstrength and outcomes. Cooperation beyond borders is important to create peoples’resilience and minimize the devastating impacts of the disasters.
Statement of the Chief Guest Mr. Qamar Zaman Kaira, Minister for ‘Information,Communication and Broadcasting:
Warmly welcoming all the participants he expressed his gratitude to the organizers andsaid:
It is very important consultation that is going to discuss common concerns arounddisaster risk response, mitigation and preparedness. The good thing is that Identifyingthe impacts of disasters and response mechanism across South Asia is also part of it.The proposed regional framework, I believe, can contribute to our correspondingeconomies. Some of the countries are low while others are high at on the internationaldisaster risk index. Disasters create physical, psychological as well as emotional stressand disorders. We cannot ignore them anymore.By developing a regional response mechanism, we can redouble our DRR force andcapacity. Keeping in view an overall threat of various disasters in the region, there is aneed to adopt a holistic and integrated approach of DRR. The challenges posed bymultiple disasters and DRR are now recognized as the development challenges andnational actions to address the impact of disaster are considered as the developmentgoals. Therefore, it is essential to develop adequate response mechanisms in thecountries of the region. We also need to develop regional, national and sub-nationalresponse, mitigation, rehabilitation and recovery systems to improve the situation ingeneral. Significant knowledge has already been created such as humanitarianframework of action at international and certain regional levels. Some good examplescould be adopted and regionalized.Regional cooperation must be increased to address common concerns for disastermanagement and other guidelines. For the purpose, strong political and disastermanagement support is required as well as corresponding capabilities andaccountabilities. Therefore such consultations are important to develop regionalpartnership. Developing our own systems and disaster response mechanisms is nolonger one country’s responsibility as disaster situation in one country affects the other.We need to share resources and capacities to achieve disaster resilience. Genderdimension, governance and the effects on women and children must be considered asimportant cross cutting aspects in the national frameworks of action. It is admirableeffort that NDMA and Oxfam are engaging SAARC to mainstream DRR and developDRR framework at the regional level. The Government of Pakistan is fully aware of theneed for and challenges posed by the impending disasters. It is realized that a stronggovernmental commitment is essential to develop the proposed framework. I lookforward a fruitful discussion in these two days to identify adequate mechanisms to beadopted by SAARC for safer South Asia.
Opening Remarks by Cherian Mathews, Regional Director, Oxfam GB:

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