Malteser International at the 4th International Disaster and Risk Conference (IDRC) Davos 2012
“Bridging sustainably the last mile connectivity” - Gaps and challenges in linking early warning and timely response between community and government levels
On the occasion of the 4th International Disaster and Risk Conference IDRC Davos 2012 from 26 to 30 August in Davos, Switzerland, Malteser International and its Indian partner organisation SSK (Sahbhagi Shikshan Kendra) will present case studies from Myanmar and India in order to portray challenges and opportunities of linking inclusive social mobilisation with early warning systems (EWSs) on cyclone and flood preparedness from a community perspective.
Their presentation is part of a session organised by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development on how to put into practice and maintain an effective interaction between early warning and response mechanisms from the institutional and the community-based level. Having received significant international attention over the past years, many multi-hazard EWSs are in operation today. However, especially at local level, an effective interaction between different national and local institution levels and at risk communities still remains a key challenge.
“The ‘last mile’ connectivity still remains underdeveloped”, states Dr. Melgabal Capistrano, Regional DRR (Disaster Risk Reduction) Advisor for Malteser International. “This is partly due to a lack of understanding of community capacities and needs and partly as a result of it being promoted as an ‘add on’ to national systems.” Malteser International’s DRR projects in India and Myanmar demonstrate the crucial contribution that communities make within early warning and response systems, and as drivers of them. “Lessons-learned show that the last mile can be bridged sustainably where communities and their vulnerabilities are taken as the starting point for local system development and strong links to national systems are established”, Capistrano continues.
In Uttar Pradesh (India), 103 flood-prone hamlets are benefiting from the EWS through a system based on auto-dialling software sending out voice messages to villagers with engagement of the authorities responsible for early warning on district level. “It authenticates existing indigenous practices through a government managed system which is made more efficient and accountable”, explains Nagendra Singh from SSK.
In Myanmar, Malteser International has developed a simple system of flag signals as locally understandable warning messages derived from complicated hydro-meteorological data to prepare villages prone to cyclones. “Village government officials are included as members of the disaster management committees which are organised to disseminate reliable warning information as they are credible members of the community”, tells Capistrano. “And by engaging women in EWS activities which were dominated traditionally by men, we could increase their decision making capacities.”
All Malteser International’s EWS projects form part of wider DRR programmes, in which increasing community knowledge and inclusive social mobilisation are crucial.
At present, Malteser International is running DRR projects in India, Indonesia, Japan, Myanmar, Pakistan, Vietnam and Haiti.
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