India is experiencing an average annual estimated economic loss of $9.8 billion out of which more than $7 billion is due to floods (GAR 2015 ) which is a recurring phenomenon in most of the states in the country. One of the key drivers behind such increasing economic loss due to disasters is lack of knowledge about hazards and access to risk information, which is essential to undertake any risk reduction action. Also there is a continuous accumulation of newer risks due to increasing exposure to hazards resulting from risk insensitive planning mechanism, ecosystem degradation, population growth and poverty. The risks induced by climate change are adding a further new dimension to the existing disaster risk profile of India.
Although there is uncertainty regarding the impacts of climate change, yet change in average climate conditions and variability are visible, and extreme climate events are being experienced annually in recent past resulting in aggravation in economic loss and devastation. The growing economy in India also results in high investment for infrastructure development, industries and other revenue generating sectors and businesses. Rarely these investment decisions take hazard exposure into account thereby increasing the exposure of economic assets to various kinds of natural and human induced hazards.
The 2018 Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Ulaanbaatar reiterated the need to incorporate disaster risk reduction education at primary, secondary and tertiary levels and professional training. Partnering with Higher Education Institutions (HEI), Universities and other science and technology communities have been envisioned for promoting innovative technology and research, facilitate capacity development, and contribute to decision-making for addressing local risks and the needs of the most vulnerable. Hon’ble Prime Minister of India has given 10 point agenda on disaster risk reduction. Agenda 6 of the PM 10 point agenda also emphasizes on developing a network of Universities to work on disaster issues.
In order to address capacity, skill and knowledge gap, the Agenda 6 stresses on the need to “Develop a network of universities to work on disaster issues in India”. Furthermore, the Agenda 6 envisions enhancing global & regional level actions under Priority 1 (d) in order “To promote common efforts in partnership with the scientific and technological community, academia and the private sector to establish, disseminate and share good practices internationally”.
Importantly, the National Disaster Management Plan (2019), which is aligned with the Sendai Framework for DRR, highlights the vital role of education and the integration of DRR into curricula at various levels, besides outlining the role of universities as technical resource centres.
By year 2030 country is committed to reduce the disaster impact on life and property to its minimum and hence given its global commitment for achieving the set targets and goals of Sendai Framework by 2030. It’s a huge task to be achieved in a very short period of time by building a sustainable system. This is possible only when we build partnerships with different stakeholders and synergize our efforts. Universities and Institutes can play a major role in shifting the narratives for disaster risk reduction for the future by its education, research, debates, dialogue and policy advocacy.
Universities are the place where all the disciplines are studied and researched. In India there are approximately 903 Universities and 39050 colleges. Out of the total number of universities in India 882 Universities are privately managed. 15 Universities are exclusively for women. It has been seen that out of these Universities almost 27 have been actively involved in disaster management field in terms of running courses of various durations.
In India there are approximately 10011 stand alone Institutions, which are engaged in capacity building and research activities. It has been seen that out of these Institutions almost 23 have been actively involved in disaster management field in terms of running courses of various durations.
Engagement and involvement of research based organizations such as Universities and other such institutions is imperative. Globally also many such networks exist such as Academic Network for Disaster Resilience in Europe (ANDROID), Asian University Network of Environment and Disaster Management (AUEDM), Africa University Network (PERIPERI), Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), ASEAN University Network (AUN) and ASEA-UNINET. Countries like Bangladesh and United Kingdom have already have their National University Networks. Indian Universities and Institutions are also well equipped in carrying out research par excellence and can help in creating knowledge base in the field of disaster management and risk reduction.
To address the commitment of India and keeping the importance of Universities and Institutions, India Universities and Institutions Network for Disaster Risk Reduction (IUINDRR-NIDM) is being established by NIDM. In this network, besides NIDM, several esteemed Universities and Institutions will come together to share knowledge, resources related to disaster risk management amongst themselves and to the larger group of stakeholders working on DRR. This Network will also have representations from University Grants Commission, All India Council for Technical Education and Association of Indian Universities.
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