Wednesday, April 17, 2019

My City My Responsibility - Disaster Preparedness for all

Dear All, 

Last year, we collected a few citizens' perspectives on certain issues related to Urban Sustainability. These included Housing, Transport, Governance or Peoples Participation, Heritage (both Cultural and Natural), Waste management and Air pollution, Disaster Risk Assessment and Green Open Spaces. For relating it to a broader vision, we used the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework especially the SDG 11 which deals with making cities and settlements sustainable. We compiled all citizens inputs and formed the Citizens Charter for Sustainable Pune. In our event on Citizens Charter and Action Agenda for Sustainable Pune we shared the same document with all of you. On analyzing all the Citizen inputs, we realized that if these inputs are put up as actionable points it will be a good guideline to follow by all.

Previous blogs focused on HousingTransportParticipatory planning and Management and Cultural & Natural Heritage under SDG 11. In this blog I will be writing about Disaster Preparedness. 

Though at the country level we are party to a lot of international agreements like the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, Sustainable Development Goals 2015-2030 and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Disaster prepardness seems to be less percolated at a city level

India is moving from the post disaster reactive approach to pre disaster pro active approach as per a latest report on Disaster Management. This means that we should be rapidly shifting towards the pro active mode at the city level as well. After all, India is also one of the most vulnerable countries due to population density and the coastline surrounding our country. In spite of this, there is a lack of coordination among other development agencies and disaster management agencies. On one hand there are upcoming development schemes that demand huge deforestation, high resource consumption that lead to increase in inequity. While on the other hand we are signing international treaties on disaster management globally. However implementation on ground is something really crucial. 

Pune has a Disaster management cell that has worked out a Ward level disaster management framework, however this document has not been revised since 2005. Furthermore, no one knows about its existence due to lack of poor dissemination of this knowledge. In case of any disaster its only the Fire brigade or the Police that we look upto, as individuals we have no idea what has to be done, who is the concerned authority and what are the immediate actions to be taken. Considering all such factors, actions at different levels in a society have been charted using citizen inputs.    

Individual Level: 
  • Lets be aware of the probable disasters that can occur in our area and which are the vulnerable entities. 
  • Lets keep a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher in our house for quick rescue. 
  • Lets be updated about all the emergency contact numbers and operations in our society. 
  • If possible we should understand the functioning of HAM (amateur radio) that works on radio frequency, since in case of any disasters its the electricity that is first affected and everything just shuts down. HAM operators will help us be in contact to the concerned. At least one family member should be a HAM operator or know how to use this simple technology. 
  • Lets keep ourselves fit in order to not only save our lives but also our loved ones life. 
  • While buying homes, check if they are earthquake resistant. 

Community Level: 
  • At the community level, lets be aware if we have any disaster prepardness plan in our society, if not advocate for framing one by coordinating with local body and NGOs or organizations working in this area.
  • Lets undertake or participate in emergency mock drills and be part of local area rescue task force.
  • Lets advocate for an inclusive Disaster Risk Management plan for better on ground implementation. 
  • Lets advocate for better disaster mitigation equipment and regular maintenance of these equipment like fire extinguishers, first aid kits etc. 
  • Lets advocate against illegal encroachments or unnecessary deforestation in and around our area. 

Governance Level: 
  • Ensure that local disaster management plans be framed keeping a pre-disaster pro-active approach and are inline with the international agreements. 
  • Ensure mapping and timely maintenance of any leakages or clogged drains and electrical systems etc in the city. 
  • Disaster Management Plans should be inclusive and should be prepared considering active public participation, local organizations and local bodies. 
  • Undertake effective communication strategies for disseminating information about local area disaster management plans, local mitigation measures and contacts of local concerned authorities. 
  • Undertake workshops/drives on first aid, disaster prepardness, uses of refuge areas and fire extinguishers and safety measures, importance of assembly areas in the city and signages.  
  • Each ward should have a Disaster management officer who coordinates with the local NGOs and active citizens for cooperation during any disasters. Undertakes regular or timely rescue practices and emergency mock drills etc for housing societies, schools and institutes etc in the area. 
  • Further development of the city, should be mapped considering the vulnerabilities in the city from climate change and environmental degradation perspective. 
  • Scope of creating a citizens center for resilience under the Disaster management cell needs to be explored instead of creating a new department. 
  • Explore the possibility of providing toll free lines, free training on HAM operation, portable shelters and smart use of smart phones.

The list may continue...however, these are a few key inputs given by about 200 people, we are looking for more such inputs and suggestions from you in order to make our Citizens Charter a better Action Agenda. 

You can email me at AND like, share / comment on our Facebook page @ for more inputs. 

Your inputs will be featured in our Action Agenda for Sustainable Pune booklet.

Pournima Agarkar.


Suren said...

A very thorough blueprint for preparedness. If possible this should be spread to every possible area of the city and assistance given to localise the preparedness according to the situation, needs, and capability of persons.

Rudra said...

Very good article on Disaster preparedness.
Now it's our turn to prepare ourselves and our families to counter any disaster...

Liked idea of using HAM frequency. Smartphon won't be operational incase of Disaster most of the times. People should know how to use HAM frequency or get more visibility on this..

Thank you..

Unknown said...

Really appreciated this