For Disaster Risk Reduction

Dr. Sunil D. S., Chairperson of the Department of Social Work, was recently invited to participate in a state-level consultation meeting convened as part of GoK-UNDP’s Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) program.

Sunil D.GoK-UNDP is the Government of Kerala – United Nations Development Program and eleven delegates including Dr. Sunil congregated at the Government Secretariat, Thiruvananthapuram to participate.

“The State has received financial support for risk and vulnerability assessment,” explained Sri. Ajith Chacko, State Project Officer, GoI-UNDP DRR.

Elaborating upon the objectives of this meeting, he stated that there were no standard methodologies for risk and vulnerability assessment; hence the state invited the support of scientific institutions for formulating state-specific methodologies.

Delegates at the meeting represented such institutions as Centre for Economic and Social Studies, Centre for Earth Science Studies, Geological Survey of India, Centre for Environment and Development, University of Kerala, in addition to Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham.

“Hazard, Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (HRVA) is an important element of any DRR program,” explained Dr. Sunil. “It helps policy makers, administrators and the community to address vulnerabilities, mitigate hazards and prepare for a response to hazardous events.”

“As an important element of DRR 2010, which is part of the eleventh five year plan, a budget of Rs. 32 lakhs has been earmarked for HRVA in one district and five municipal corporations of Kerala.”

DisasterDelegates at the meeting made presentations on methodologies and models for HRVA including spatial data collection, application of remote sensing, Geographic Information System (GIS) and participatory mapping.

Dr. Sunil introduced models such as Pressure & Release, UN and DFID, that could be used for HRVA. “The analysis should be both qualitative and quantitative,” he suggested. “Vulnerability assessment should finally result in vulnerability reduction.”

Other delegates emphasized that seemingly innocuous activities such as the construction of high-rise buildings, quarrying, destruction of mangroves and poor water management all finally resulted in disasters.

The meeting resulted in the formulation of a state-level advisory committee to evolve a state- specific methodology for HRVA. Amrita’s Dr. Sunil was invited to be a part of the nine-member committee.

“I look forward to working with the team to address vulnerabilities in the field,” he stated.

Community-based disaster risk reduction is Dr. Sunil’s main area of research. He currently supervises student research in community-based early warning systems. Prior to joining Amrita, he played a significant role in establishing the Jamsetji Tata Center for Disaster Management in Mumbai.

September 19, 2010
Dept of Social Work, Amritapuri

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