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Meeting on post-disaster management and prevention strategies (13/05/05)

The purpose of the meeting organised by MSSRF and IDRC (International Development Research Center, Canada), was to identify a range of priority areas for research and to identify current and potential research organizations that are interested in building a proper research agenda. Issues such as the vulnerability of coastal areas and strategies for rehabilitation and prevention were discussed. Strategies for strengthening livelihood resilience, adaptive mechanisms, information empowerment, ecosystem health, gender, conflict sensitivity and social disparities were also highlighted.

It was important to identify the problems and issues and provide solutions.

Shelter issues:

  • Temporary shelters need periodic review and upgrades (to suit the weather conditions)
  • Permanent shelters need to provide for sanitation, rainwater harvesting and be gender sensitive. It should also be eco-friendly, and use local resources

Livelihood issues:

  • A cost effective commodity chain to increase the fishermen's returns need to be identified
  • There needs to be a demand driven education system
  • SHGs need financial management skills
  • Research on cost-effective technologies for soil reclamation, new practices, crops etc. need to be done for the agriculture sector
  • Employment opportunities should be provided for laborers, inland fishermen, and the aquaculture sector

Disaster-preparedness:

  • Role of "traditional spaces" like temples, churches, mosques, etc. in times of disaster, and how to better equip them to handle disaster
  • Bio-indicators as early warning mechanism-information channels within the community
  • Assessing community requirements as expressed by them
  • The role the local government needs to be clearly established - to coordinate private / NGO / govt. efforts, in planning & implementation, their accountability to the people
  • Set up of village knowledge center - content generation, system management, recurring costs and sustainability (including services that can be delivered at the center level)
  • Lessons that can be learnt from earlier disasters - Supercyclone in Orissa, Earthquake in Gujarat
  • To assess the role of Government / NGO / Private / Panchayats and to decide when to close 'Relief' and start 'rehabilitation'

The ideal role of the Panchayat in relief efforts:

  • Preparing a voluntary group / committee in every village for disaster management and train them in relief and rehabilitation efforts
  • Evolving a micro plan for reconstruction
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