12th December, 2020 | 4:40 PM - 6:10 PM
There are increasing disasters that are being experienced in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) both in terms of magnitude and frequency with grave impacts on lives, livelihoods and assets. The IHR is a multi hazard landscape with a complex interplay of events across timelines and ecosystems that needs to be looked at from an interdisciplinary manner and beyond single disaster events. There is an urgent need to mainstream the issue of disaster in the IHR and address it in a holistic manner.
Earthquakes, landslides and extreme weather events in the Indian Himalaya have resulted in the loss of both lives and livelihood assets. There is a body count perspective to addressing disasters which tends to be relatively small in sparsely populated mountain landscapes, which is the main reason why mountain disasters do not get the necessary attention it requires. The indirect and long term socio-economic and ecological losses of disaster in the mountains goes unaccounted and unaddressed.
Institutional systems and processes have been set up under the National Disaster Management Act 2005 that are linked right down to the communities through the Panchayati Raj Institutions. Yet, challenges remain especially in the mountain context for mainstreaming DRR in the development discourse and intervention.
Existing disaster response has been predominantly reactionary in nature with focus on relief and rescue even though the discourse under the National Disaster Management Act 2005 narrates it from a Disaster Risk Reduction perspective. This reactionary nature fails to address the issues of in-depth risk assessment, preparedness and long term rehabilitation. There are data gaps and limited access to data is a serious handicap for disaster planning. Rehabilitation post landslide is extremely difficult with complete loss of land and other assets in a landslide. Preparedness models in the mountain regions have yet to respond to the spread and difficulty of the terrain. Both, preparedness and rehabilitation in mountain areas are expensive per capita which in a uniform Indian policy is not reflected. Implementation gaps are also seen in-terms of relief materials and reach.
On the long term perspective there is no mainstreaming of disaster risk assessment in development pathways. DRR needs to incorporate long term natural resource management and disaster sensitive development pathways. The convergence and mainstreaming of disaster is yet to be seen, which is critical for addressing disaster in the Himalaya in the long term.
Climate change is an additional driver to increased disaster that the IHR faces today. This intersection of disaster and climate change in the Himalaya has thrown additional dimensions and challenges in the disaster management cycle. Therefore convergence of disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) into development planning is of utmost importance. Although convergence has occurred in multilateral international agreements like UNFCCC, Hyogo Protocol, Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) and national plans, this process has not percolated to scales of implementation transcending local contexts.
While there are institutional mechanisms and systems delineated to address disaster, there are large implementation gaps in the practise of DRR from a continuous, multidisciplinary and long term perspective. The need to look at systemic and institutional learning from repeated disasters in the Himalayan region, risk assessment mechanisms, state of preparedness, risk reduction mechanism and rehabilitation processes have become even more urgent and significant. These need to be located in the larger development planning and paradigm as well as climate change so that there is mainstreaming of DRR.
- Discuss the need for mainstream disaster risk reduction in the IHR by strengthening disaster management knowledge and critically analyse its linkage with development pathways and climate change.
- Share successful community management strategies of DRR for scale and inform policy
- Develop a DRR road map for the IHR
- Knowledge management
- Sharing of best practices
- Inform policy