Featured News Article on the Historic UN-IDDR Observance 2014.
By: Dr. Dass U.
Fairfield, New Zealand/ContentCo-GNN/ Nov 12, 2014
Disasters can occur anywhere, anytime, at any location, to any society. The past few decades have witnessed a significant increase in natural disasters. According to the UN statistics, nearly 400-500 natural disasters and calamities take place annually. Major vicissitudes and overall global variations like climate change, loss of biodiversity, constant and rapid environmental degradation, ozone forfeiture mutilations and global warming are the key reasons and causative emancipations to disasters increase. The devastative consequences of such cataclysms, that are posed with the detrimental damages to the global communities, their infrastructures and in their overall socio-economic set-ups, are becoming exceedingly and alarmingly high. Asia’s 2004-Tsunami alone, devastated over 6 countries, leaving over 3 million as homeless, hundreds of thousands as displaced and, with a toll rate exceeding ….
In view of the afore-mentioned corresponding facts, the United Nations designated an International Observance Day for Disaster Reduction, in 1989 with the approval by it’s General Assembly. The UN General Assembly sees the IDDR as a way to promote a global culture of disaster reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness. Originally celebrated as per resolution 44/236, 22 December 1989, the UN General Assembly decided to designate 10/13 as the date to celebrate the IDDR (resolution 64/200, 21 December 2009).
International Day for Disaster Reduction is a day to celebrate how people and communities are reducing their risk to disasters and raising awareness about the importance of DRR. It’s also a day to encourage every citizen and government to take part in building more disaster resilient communities and nations.
The 2014 theme for the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction “Resilience is for Life”, is part of a ‘Step Up Initiative’, that started in 2011 through 2014.
The step-up initiative 2011-2014 focuses on a different group of partners every year leading up to the World Conference for Disaster Reduction in 2015.
This year the focus of the International Day for Disaster Reduction was on older people, including their needs and what they contribute to better planning and understanding of disaster risk in their communities. IDDR 2014 intended to switch on and amplify this critical issue now and for the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.
As the year 2014, categorically marks the conclusive year for the ‘Step-up Initiative’, as well as the second-last round up for Hyogo Framework of Action, the celebrations got an extraordinary extended elegance. The day and the theme “Resilience is for life” were used to boost age-inclusive disaster risk reduction across the world from Kathmandu to Canberra, and from Addis Ababa to Beijing.
Various organizations, groups and institutions around the world celebrated the UN-IDDR from 11/13 through end of the month, followed by workshops, seminars and symposiums. Since the role of science cannot be over-sighted in the DRR contexts, the fortnight-long celebrations, followed by a 10 days Post-HFA Thematic Confluence, concluded up by a convergence of IDDR to the UN’s World Science Day for Peace and Development UN-WSDPD-2014 observance.
A record tweeting–over 4.3 million tweets were propelled up and sent to UTC on IDDR-2014 in a thunderclap announcement in support of age inclusive disaster risk reduction.
People found themselves in a transformative sort of company alongside the UN family, the Kofi Annan Foundation, the International Telecommunications Union, the World Meteorological Organization, the Tear Fund, ODI, the Axa Research Fund, UNESCO-SAARC Academic Alliance Sri Lanka, Inspectorate for Emergency Situation Petrodava Romania, Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA), SAIRI Research Initiative Pakistan, NARRI Consortium Bangladesh, Plan International Laos and several others UNISDR’s partner for this year’s campaign.
Indonesia marked IDDR-2014 by piloting a National Conference on Community Based DRR, organized by Indonesia’s Disaster Management Society, in collaboration with Plan International.
Plan International also organized a National Symposium on DRR and Resilience, in Kathmandu. Nepal.
Saritsa Foundation, India organized workshops in Mumbai and Maharashtra, for older people (Seniors and Super Seniors) to raise social awareness for the needs of such people to protect their lives and make use of their valuable experience to develop resilience.
The Lisbon City Council through the Civil Protection Department Portugal, celebrated this year’s International Disaster Reduction Day with a Seminar where the public entities invited, shared their experiences about emergency planning, citizenship in a disaster environment and the role of local communities in disaster risk reduction.
In Washington DC, Peggy Keller MPH, Director of Community Preparedness and Resilience, Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Administration, DC Department of Health made a DRR presentation on ‘Resilience for the Whole Communty’.
ODI organized the IDDR event with keynote presentations from: Silvia Stefanoni, Director of Policy and Strategy, HelpAge International, and Tom Mitchell, Head of Climate and Environment.
In Nepal, there held an earthquake simulation at a home for older persons.
In the UK, there held the London launch of HelpAge International’s new report “Resilience in an Ageing World” hosted by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).
The Department of Disaster Management under the Ministry of Home & Cultural Affairs, Bhutan has been observing the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction every year since 2008 in close collaboration with School and communities to raise awareness on DRR, creating social responsibility and mobilization of general public to get involved and take ownership of the future Disaster Risk Reduction Initiatives. This year too, the day was observed in Punakha Dzongkhag, presided by Dasho Dzongdag (Governor) of Punakha Dzongkhag.
In Viet Nam, a major DRR educational event took place. Save the children International, in collaboration with the Viet Nan government organized a series of lectures on DRR measures at Conference Centre of Tien Giang People Committee.
The 5th Conference of the International Society for Integrated Disaster Risk Management (IDRiM 2014) took place at Western University, London, Ontario, Canada, from 10/30 to 11/1 2014. The theme of conference was “Building Disaster Resilient Communities”.
The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) supports disaster preparedness activities in the nine most disaster-prone regions throughout the world. Efforts are focused on building resilience of vulnerable communities.
The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and HelpAge International issued a joint call for greater involvement of older persons in disaster management efforts worldwide in order to bring down death tolls among those over 60.
HelpAge International’s CEO Toby Porter joined UNISDR’s Head of Regional Office, Sharon Rusu, for the main global event in Rustenburg, South Africa, hosted by the South African government.
UNISDR and HelpAge International are calling on governments to sign up to Charter 14 for Older People in Disaster Risk Reduction and commit to specific inclusion of older persons in all facets of disaster management planning with a strong emphasis on early warnings and evacuation procedures.
In a reference-passage, the official citation of DRR-HFA Manifesto-2014 of UN’s Step-up Initiative being concluded by IDDR-2014, states, that, “As a testament of the meritorious renderings that made some ‘difference’ in DRR executional framework reprieves in the aftermaths of Asian Tsunami-2004—the highest-observed devastating catastrophe of the recorded history of last millennium’s natural cataclysms.
Besides the utmost wreckage-desolations, that quite austerely devastated and shattered almost 9 main oceanic sectors of Asia, including the hard-hit coastal zones of Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India and Sumatra, and its unprecedented scale of destruction, Tsunami-04 brought forth a way to measure the real impact factor in terms of the actual ‘on-ground renderings’ conceded thereupon.
A selection slate was made with a view to reckon-surmise the real ‘on-ground impact factor’ of different institutional entities, relief projects and individuals with reference to the UN-HFA and DRR perspectives. The selection slate draped a summing p of 17 out-scored projects and 21 organizations. Amongst them are, the Oxfam, Save the Children, SOS, Rotary International, MAVSO Intl, Shadow Intl., and some regional and local organizations.
In order to typify the ‘difference’ introduced thereupon, an opinion poll was customizedly commissioned in hard-hit areas, in order to have the affectees their own say for– ‘who did what for them’— that brought some meant-content for them in the aftermaths of the crucial most catastrophe.
The outcome of ‘Tsunami Opinion Polls’, coupled with inter-institutional and academic consensus, evoked the unanimity in lieu of a historic resolution for instituting KAKHTAH multiversity medal, named after those who became responsible for bringing forth some real ‘difference’ during the hard test of human solidarity, through their meritorious renderings.
“‘The highest impact factor (IF), particularly in DRR perspectives, is the actual ‘On-ground IF’ of the ‘Humanitarian et Meritorious’ renderings—which do speak for themselves and, deservedly worth to be solidified in history archives’ testimonials for the centuries and generations to come” the UNESCO-SAARC HFA Confluence IDDR-2014, hereby adopts the resolution and acclaims under the UN resolutions and conventions on the subject, entailing the DRR/HFA, for posthumously instituting a multiversity ‘KAKHTAH’ scholarship medal for outstanding doctoral and post-doctoral research studies on DRR”, says HFA-DRR Manifesto 2014 .
The multiversity ‘KAKHTAH’ scholarship gets its standing-ovation to be named after two institutional entities and two individuals; 1- Kofi Annan – the former UN secretary general, who paid prompt visits in far-remote affected areas with an aim to have a first-hand knowledge of the ground situation. He himself prompted for the actual circumstantial state-of-affairs, instead of relying on the executive summaries–rightly setting a new custom and tradition in the hierarchical pyramids, 2- Helen Keller Intl- a US based international organization that immediately incited the emergency humanitarian services in Tsunami’s Indonesia’s hardest-hit regions, saving the lives where needed right by the moment of need, 3- Tzu-chi Intl- a multi-regional NGO from Taiwan, having one of the largest networks with representations and physical presence in almost all continents throughout the world, whose volunteers remained on-board for over three years for long-term Tsunami relief works, 4- Aurangzeb Hafi- an independent multi-disciplinary arch-researcher and philanthropist from Pakistan, who foremostly conceptualized, directed, and almost single-handedly kept-paced all major research projects concerning the disability related constituencies and ivories during Tsunami. On account of ‘disability inclusiveness’ trend-settings, Prof. Hafi can justly and righteously be credited for pioneering the cutting-edge concepts of pre-birth multiple disabilities risk assessment, embryonic toxicity and teratogenic proneness factor analysis among pregnant women and the disability+pregnancy inclusive special protocols in cataclysmic emergencies and DRR modus of executional frameworks.
The new-fangled scholarship medal is proclaimed to be bestowed onto an entire-some accretion of over 1900 global academic ivories. The medal escorted with a 2.7 Million GBP scholarship, would be bequeathed on a biennium basis, for estimable post-doctoral research works of deservingly significant virtues, in the areas of disaster management, catastrophic policy lay-outs, cataclysmic forecasting and calamity prevention methodologies.
The seven members conferring jury for KAKHTAH medal, that includes national and regional academic celebrities, would be chaired by Justice(R) S.S. Paru, L.L.D., D.Litt., from Indonesia. Sri Lanka’s ombudsman Dr. Wickrema Weerasooria, who had been Sri Lankan High Commissioner in New Zealand and Australia, and has served federal and state ministries in various capacities for over fifteen years would be serving as the senior assessor of jury. The jury would take all noteworthy research works of relevance into deliberations on a biennium basis, in order to subjugate scholarship worthiness of the research.
Special annotation notes of thanks have been made to the Government of Sri Lanka, for the approval of conceding a three-days KAKHTAH-DRR postal stamp, and establishing a KAKHTAH Tsunami Forecasting Centre, in the names of benevolent stalwarts.
Special acknowledgements, on account of furthering the DRR goals in HFA and Post-HFA perspectives, were made for the International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN, which helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges.
On the occasion of IDDR 2014, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a message highlighting the relevance of including elderly people in disaster reduction: “When a natural disaster hits, older persons suffer disproportionately high levels of death and injuries. This tragic trend must be reversed… Disaster planning must take account of the reduced mobility experienced by many older persons. The needs of older persons should also be taken into account in early warning systems, social protection mechanisms, evacuation and emergency response plans, and public awareness campaigns…On this International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, let us remind ourselves that building Resilience to disasters has no time limit in one’s life; it starts in youth and grows more important as we age.”
Dr Rick Brennan, WHO’s Director of Emergency Risk Management and Humanitarian Response, said that, “We’re seeing a proliferation of many different types of crises in recent years,”. “…..Hard experience shows us that older persons aren’t receiving the care and support they require. This issue needs stronger action”, mentioned further the WHO’s Director.
In a keynote message for 2014-IDDR, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Kristalina Georgieva, seized the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) as an opportunity to reflect on the risks and dangers in one’s community. “We must not forget the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. They are often most exposed to disasters and suffer the most from their consequences,” she said in her note on IDDR.
UNISDR Head, Margareta Wahlström, said: “The older person is often invisible in our communities until they show up in the mortality figures after a disaster event. Demographic change means we are living in an ageing world. It is important to include older persons in disaster management for both their improved protection and to make full use of their experience, skills and knowledge in support of that.
“The world needs to become more acutely aware of how to protect older persons as the climate changes and the ageing population is exposed to more extreme events. For instance, thousands of people die every year in heat waves and older persons living in poverty are among the most vulnerable. Inclusion of their needs and social protection measures are vital to the success of disaster management in the years ahead.”
HelpAge International’s Chief Executive, Toby Porter, said, “Older people bear the initial brunt of disasters often because they cannot flee”.”The mental fall-out from disasters is huge. Older women and men are ready to help others but are often too proud to help themselves.”
Toby Porter described further that “To turn this around, governments and disaster management agencies need to address older people’s vulnerabilities and tap into the years of experience, knowledge and skills that they bring to help reduce the effects of disasters.”
The Canadian Minister Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, acknowledging the United Nation’s IDDR, stated that, “The International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) highlights the importance of including all members of society in taking action to reduce the risk of disasters.
“The theme for this year’s IDDR is ‘Resilience is for Life.’ Resilience means the capacity of all citizens to cope and recover during an emergency. This year, the IDDR campaign focuses on engaging seniors in disaster risk reduction efforts”……”From the tragedy at Lac-Mégantic, to the recent floods in Alberta, Manitoba, Northern Ontario and New Brunswick, Canadians know all too well that disasters can have devastating effects on our communities. The tragic fire at L’Isle-Verte seniors’ residence in early 2014 demonstrates the importance of addressing the needs of vulnerable populations in emergency planning”.
According to the world statistics, there are some 868 million people aged over 60 – that’s 12% of the global population. By 2050, it is estimated that there will be nearly as many people aged 60 or over as children under 15: 2.02 billion compared with 2.03 billion, according to the world statistics.
The statistics-based, facts correspondingly invoke the irrepressible essentiality of a mandatory and obligatory call for disasters’ preparedness at all levels, i.e. the governments, the NGOs, the private sectors and the public segments, all have to step up for an ‘Integrative Preparedness’ for Disasters Risk Reduction (IP-DRR). The IP-DRR’s cross-disciplinary and cross-sectorial model of disasters management, was first conceptualized and introduced by an independent Pakistani multi-disciplinary researcher Professor Qadhi Aurangzeb Hafi, who foremostly brought forth and orchestrated the concepts of ‘disability-inclusive and pregnancy-inclusive protocols’ in disasters management policy frameworks, during the first epidemiological assessment appraisals of Tsunami 2004. Now the IP-DRR modus-operandi has become recognized internationally to be formally adopted as a principal operative modality for Post-Hyogo Framework of Action, by the UNESCO-SAARC Initiatives for Disasters Risk Reduction.
IDDR celebrations that ended up by the concluding term of UNESCO-SAARC DRR Confluence by 11/10/2014, consisted of 23 formal academic sessions, over 67 workshops and 49 high-level round the table panel discussions.
Well-attended by the academic luminaries across the planet, IDDR-2014 celebrations embraced more than 3000 policy papers on disasters management policy frameworks. The research précis of policy frameworks are primed for UN-HFA and other segments of relevance.
References & Related Links: