Caritas India in New Delhi on Tuesday, brought together faith-based organizations active in disaster management to create a network to help India become more resilient when catastrophe strikes.
Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Buddhist organizations participated in the meeting along with former government officials from the Disaster Management Authority.
"It is time not only to be change-makers but also make others into change-makers," said Swamini Adityanand Saraswati from the Global Interfaith Wash Alliance while addressing the meeting.
They decided to create an alliance of groups and communities working on disaster preparedness and management and invited anyone willing to acquire competence in the field to join. They also agreed to create a national humanitarian database to tell stories of those who have risen to the occasion when disaster struck.
Building the resilience of communities must be our overarching priority, said Vinod Menon, a senior official at the Disaster Management Authority.
Father Paul Moonjely of Caritas India said the network would build community resilience, create public awareness, conduct mock exercises and do joint assessments and programs during disasters.
It was probably the first inter-religious meeting on disaster management ever and took remarkable steps to create nationwide resilience, said Anil Sinha, vice chairman of the Bihar Disaster Management Authority.
A number of organizations made presentations including: Caritas India, Catholic Relief Service (CRS), Church's Auxiliary Social Action (CASA), World Vision India and Islamic Relief, Muslim Aid, Brahm Kumaris, Global Interfaith Wash Alliance , Vedic University and Mata Amritmayi Foundation.
According to a report of 2004 from the National Disaster Management Division, India has been traditionally vulnerable to natural disasters on account of its unique geo-climatic conditions. Floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes and landslides have been a recurrent phenomena. About 60% of the landmass is prone to earthquakes of various intensities; over 40 million hectares is prone to floods; about 8% of the total area is prone to cyclones and 68% of the area is susceptible to drought. In the decade 1990-2000, an average of about 4344 people lost their lives and about 30 million people were affected by disasters every year. (UCAN)