New Delhi: The National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) hosted a special event observing the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction on October 13, 2023 at its campus in National capital’s Rohini area.
The International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction designated by the United Nations, is a global observance day celebrated every year on October 13 to highlight the critical importance of reducing the risk and impact of disasters.
The theme for this year is ‘Fighting Inequality for a Resilient Future’ to highlight the disproportionate impact that disasters have on marginalized communities.
NIDM’s event, titled “From Inequality to Empowerment for Disaster Resilience” was aligned with this year’s theme and was dedicated to raising awareness about the critical importance of addressing inequalities in disaster management and promoting inclusive, equitable and resilient communities.
The National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) is a premier institute for training and capacity development in the field of disaster management in India. NIDM works tirelessly to promote a culture of safety, resilience and disaster risk reduction.
Through this event, NIDM provided a unique platform for individuals and organizations to join forces in addressing inequality as a central element of disaster risk reduction.
The event featured multiple range of speakers and experts from diverse backgrounds- government agencies, non-governmental organizations, academia and civil society including Nari Shakti Puraskar recipient Smt. Ruma Devi, Ms. Ira Singhal IAS, Prof. Satoru Nishikawa from Nagoya University, Japan, Shri Tomas Stenstrom from the International Labour Organization and Ms. Maithili Thakur, singer and national youth icon who is also the brand ambassador of NIDM.
The event commenced with a welcome address by Shri Rajendra Ratnoo IAS, Executive Director, NIDM, who duly recognized the dignitaries for their work that broke different socio-economic barriers and created an enabling environment for the inclusive growth of marginalized sections of society.
He reaffirmed NIDM’s commitment in mainstreaming DRR in every vertical of the government highlighting all-inclusive approach of Hon’ble Prime Minister “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas, Sabka Viswash Sabka Prayas”.
Shri Amarjeet Sinha IAS (Retd.), Member PSEB & Former Advisor to Hon’ble PM delivered the inaugural address, sharing his extensive experience in fighting inequalities for creating inclusiveness in the government action. He spoke about the development gains that can be made by including the marginalized.
“He cited inclusion of women in development as central to progress and safeguarding of any society. Challenges of disaster risk are best fought through community engagement, empowerment of vulnerable groups and poverty alleviation. Disasters can only be overcome by a community inclusive approach with a special focus on girl child education.”
Ms. Ruma Devi (Gram Vikas Evam Chetna Sansthan) shared her personal story of how she overcame the limitations created by the traditional patriarchal barriers to not only achieve financial independence for herself but for 30,000 women workers in her region.
Her story is a testament to leadership, community engagement, entrepreneurship, innovation, sheer perseverance and how women empowerment can transform a community and region.
Ms. Ira Singhal (Spl. Secy, Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh) talked about prevailing perception bias against disabled persons that is people’s opinion of what they can and cannot do.
She further said that this bias eventually ends up deciding what opportunities come to them. After a disaster, the number of people with disability increases manifold.
The smallest challenge posed by disasters and emergencies can have far-reaching impact for those with disability until shame and stigma associated with disabled people is eradicated.
Ms. Maithili Thakur shared with audience her own story of migration from North Bihar due to constant risk of floods and lack of opportunities and life chances for her as a girl child. She shared that support of her parents and skill development were a major factor in her journey.
She also spoke about the issues that children may face during disasters such as child trafficking, abuse, disruption of education especially that of girl children.
Prof. Santosh Kumar, Senior Advisor, NIDM, delivered the opening remarks for this session. He spoke about how existing inequalities push people to the margins.
He said that the breakthrough stories of the speakers in the face of adversities are a testament to how empowerment can free individuals and communities from the shackles of inequalities. For combating the impact of disparities, compassion, empathy and sensitivity.
Other speakers included Shri Tom White from UNICEF, Shri Tomas Stenstrom (ILO), Prof. Satoru Nishikawa from Nagoya University, Japan, Dr. Vinita Sahay, Director, IIM (Bodh Gaya).
The speakers and the participants engaged in a dynamic dialogue on strategies for promoting inclusivity, empowerment and resilience. The topics of discussion ranged from empowerment, inclusion and participation of women, creating accessibility for people with disability, inclusion of informal labour and children in disaster risk reduction efforts.
About 200 stakeholders from diverse sectors and backgrounds- policymakers, domain experts, field practitioners and researchers, academicians, students, young professionals etc.
From Central and State government agencies, organizations like JICA, UNICEF, ILO, IIM, JNU, IIHMR, etc., participated enthusiastically and engaged with panelists and each other.
This event proved to be an invaluable platform for knowledge exchange, networking and charting a course towards more inclusive and resilient disaster risk reduction strategies.
On this occasion, a training manual titled ‘Social and Behavioral Change Toolkit’ prepared by NIDM and UNICEF was launched and an MoU between NIDM and IIM Bodh Gaya was also signed.