Increasingly factors such as climate change are making the world we live in, more and more vulnerable to various forms of disasters.
India also has not been spared. The super cyclone in Orissa in 1999, the Kutch earthquake in 2001, the tsunami in December 2004, the floods in Andhra and Karnataka in 2009, the list of mega-disasters is growing.
Alongside these are industrial disasters, the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984 falls in this category.
An increasing prevalence of these disasters has seen disaster management experts emerge; with a good overall understanding of various issues, they can help respond swiftly in critical situations.
A five-day certificate course on Disaster Response and Recovery jointly organized by the Amrita Departments of Social Work at Amritapuri and Coimbatore focused on a wide range of topics for such experts. Nearly 40 delegates from different institutions participated.
A theoretical overview of disasters, response and recovery was provided, which was supplemented with important measures such as the measurement of vulnerability, disaster impact assessment and development of community-based hazard maps.
These sessions were taught by the Amrita faculty including Dr. Sunil DS, Mr. Rajeev MM and Mr. Renjith R. Pillai from the Amritapuri campus and Dr. Geetha P from Coimbatore. Role plays and group discussions helped make the sessions interactive.
“Many of our faculty members on both campuses have a strong interest in the area of disaster management,” elaborated Dr. J. Paranjothi Ramalingam, Head of the Department at Coimbatore. “As such, their research and practice is focused on addressing issues in this area.”
The Amrita sessions were supplemented by invited experts from all over India.
Dr. K. Sekar, Professor, Department of Psychiatric Social Work from NIMHANS, Bangalore, spoke about psycho-social aspects in disaster response and recovery. Dr. Pravin Patkar, formerly teaching at the Department of Social Work, TISS, Mumbai and now heading an NGO, Prerana, which works for children, focused on vulnerable groups including women, children and elders.
A field visit to a slum area in the CMC Colony in Coimbatore provided an excellent opportunity to combine theory with practice.
This disaster-prone area depicted the deplorable life conditions of an urban slum as workshop participants interacted with the slum residents.
The Amrita students who attended, provided very positive feedback.
“The course was very helpful since it portrayed the various physical and psychological impacts of disaster on survivors,” stated A. S. Kalaivani, second-year MSW student at Coimbatore.
“The role plays were a lot of fun, besides it was a great way to learn,” added Madhusudhanan S., first-year MSW student at Amritapuri.
January 5, 2011
Depts of Social Work, Amritapuri and Coimbatore