A conference on the role of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in disaster management was held here on Thursday to create effective policies, mechanism and equipments to handle disaster in the region
The event “Nepal Earthquake: Role of SAARC in Disaster Management and Reconstruction in South Asia” was organised by the SAARC India Secretariat.
The panel discussions were chaired by Joint Secretary of SAARC Division Dr Ajay Gondane, former Secretary-General SAARC Sheel Kant Sharma, founding editor of Himal Southasian magazine Kanak Mani Dixit and New Trade Union Initiative’s Ashim Roy.
The event highlighted on how the SAARC Disaster management should operationalize an effective mechanism to handle any contingencies in the South Asian region.
The discussion emphasized on how SAARC member countries can have a framework to help disaster management in the South Asian region.
Former Secretary General of SAARC, Sheel Kant Sharma, said that a lot of works needs to be done to put a proper disaster response system in place.
“There is SAARC Disaster Management centre set up in Delhi and they have also got SAARC disaster response agreement. Under the agreement they have some mechanism to do things but these are still very early steps; what is required for disaster management, risk reduction and response is much bigger,” he said.
“SAARC requires to do a lot on that but they are attending to this because they have SAARC centre in Delhi and they want to combine with the environmental centers around the SAARC region,” he added.
Meanwhile, Editor of Himal Southasian magazine, Kanak Mani Dixit, lauded India;s prompt response during Nepal earthquake and appreciated the help extended by South Asian nations to Nepal .
“India’s response was immediate and very generous it provided the kind of help Nepal needed, particularly helicopters, because Nepal is full of mountainous terrain, it is very hard to reach distant hamlets. As a whole, South Asian countries including Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Pakistan and Bangladesh gave great support,” he said.
“Some supported with tarpaulin, some supported with food and grains while others supported with cash. Bhutan provided a million dollars; India provided lot of support not only from the government but there was people to people support,” he added.
The conference concluded with the hope that the SAARC disaster agreement is accepted by all the eight SAARC member countries so that unprecedented disaster can be handled in an effective way.