Disaster Risk Reduction in the Mountains
CEE Himalaya (www.ceehimalaya.org) has been working in the Kashmir province of the State of Jammu & Kashmir since 2005 - soon after the province was hit by a devastating earthquake of 7.6 on the Richter scale. CEE Himalaya has taken up a disaster risk reduction campaign in 2,000 schools and 50 villages of Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Ganderbal and Srinagar districts. In the schools, teachers and students are involved in vulnerability and risk mapping through rapid visual risk assessment and preparing disaster management plan for their school. Disaster response teams formed in selected schools have been trained in life-saving skills and safe evacuation.
CEE Himalaya celebrated IMD 2009 with educators by conducting a week-long series of events on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. About 150 participants including teachers and officials of the Department of Education, Ganderbal, participated in these events.
Participants worked together to identify climate change impacts in the local context, particularly in terms of water availability, variation in micro-climate, impact on agriculture/horticulture and other livelihoods, and vulnerability to natural disasters The concept of School Disaster Management Plans (SDMP) was introduced. Participants got a hands-on opportunity to prepare SDMPs for their schools through group exercises, and discussed their opinions about village contingency plans.
Some of the observations on impacts of climate change in the area discussed by participants included the melting, shrinking and even disappearance for some glaciers, drying up of several wetlands and perennial springs.
Heavy deforestation, decline and extinction of wildlife, heavy soil erosion, siltation of water bodies, fall in crop yields, reduced availability of fodder and other non- timber forest produce were some of the other related issues discussed.
Films such as “An Inconvenient Truth” and “First Victims of Climate Change” were screened and discussed during these programmes. The Urdu version of “Riskland- Let Us Learn to Prevent Disasters” UNISDR's (UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction) educational kit, translated and adapted for Kashmir by CEE, was distributed, and was discussed and tried out with the participants, Another educational package, “Pick Right”, developed by CEE for climate change education was also distributed, discussed and used. A message to reduce our “footprint” and increase our “hand print” was spread during these events.