May 28, 2011
School of Engineering, Amritapuri
They convened in Geneva, Switzerland during May 8-13. Heads of State, Ministers, World Bank Managing Director and over 2,600 leaders, experts and policy makers from around the world for one common cause – Surviving Natural Disaster.
“Disasters are increasing worldwide with more devastating effects than ever before,” the distinguished participants learned. “According to preliminary analyses, natural and man-made disasters in 2010 caused economic losses of US $ 222 billion, up from US $ 36 billion the previous year.”
“These disasters also claimed significantly more lives. Nearly 260,000 people were killed in 2010 compared with 15,000 in 2009.”
“The earthquake in Haiti alone claimed over 222,000 lives, and the floods in Pakistan affected more than 20 million people – startling figures of a trend that is only anticipated to intensify with future climate change.”
These statements made at the World Reconstruction Conference and Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction united people from developed and developing nations who recognized the urgent need to invest in disaster reduction.
The Global Platform managed by the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction brought together all stakeholders committed to reducing disaster risk and building resilience of communities and nations exposed to them.
But does the rest of the world also see that need? Amrita’s answer, “Yes, we do.”
Representing Amrita at the world’s foremost gathering endeavoring to reduce disaster risk, were Dr. Maneesha V. Ramesh and Ms. Bhavani B who shared Amrita’s commitment, investment and advances in disaster preparedness.
“We had the opportunity to interact with people from many countries and explain the status of Amrita’s disaster reduction research,” stated Dr. Maneesha. “Many showed a keen interest in Amrita’s projects.”
As Director of the Amrita Wireless Network and Applications Research Center, Dr. Maneesha deployed India’s first wireless sensor network for landslide detection in 2008.
Ms. Bhavani, who heads the Ammachi (Amrita Multi Modal Applications Using Computer-Human Interaction) Labs at the Amritapuri campus is also working towards disaster risk reduction.
Participating in the conference, Dr. Maneesha and Ms. Bhavani were exposed to the latest information, initiatives and activities promoting disaster prevention and preparedness.
The conference theme Invest Today for a Safer Tomorrow emphasized the preeminent need for political and economic investment for disaster risk reduction.
“One of the biggest challenges presented at the global conference was involving local governments and forming local partnerships to address various disaster related issues,” shared Dr. Maneesha.
Around the world, communities, civil society and governments are beginning to prepare to respond effectively to catastrophic events. We applaud their efforts and hope that the rest of the world catches on soon too.