Disasters are often short-lived events with lasting impacts on the nation’s society and economy. Crises affect the weakest economic layers of society the most. The Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) highlighted that an average annual economic loss due to disasters, now reaching USD 300 billion, and DRR is essential for sustainable development, writes Ayushi Govil, Professional trainee, National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA).
As India is vulnerable to a wide range of natural disasters, the country has also experienced a significant number of natural disasters over the past 20 years (2000-2019), especially floods (52%), cyclones (30% ), droughts (3%), earthquakes (5%) and landslides (10%). Comparison of data on disasters from 1981-1999 to 2000-2019, indicates that the occurrences of disasters increased from 240 to 321 with substantial financial and material losses. The map illustrates the disasters facing cities, which are mainly floods, cyclones, landslides, etc. Cities are the engine of growth in India, given that around 35% of India’s population now resides in urban areas, there is a need to focus on disaster risk reduction in Indian cities. The urban population currently contributes around 63 percent of India’s GDP and is expected to reach 75 percent, according to a joint report by CBRE and CREDAI. By 2030, when the SDGs are assessed, nearly 400 million people will reside in Indian cities. Thus, cities can be seen as units vulnerable to disaster risk. Multiple increases in population growth, safe urbanization and migration to cities expose more people to high-risk areas.
Sendai framework and its link to the SDGs
The Sendai framework and its eight targets align with the SDG target timeline. It ensures enhanced national and local disaster risk reduction strategies, enhanced cooperation between nations and advanced early warning systems, disaster risk information and assessments. The implementation of these targets is also reflected in SDGs 1, 11 and 13 (i.e. poverty eradication, sustainable cities and climate action) and is monitored. Monitoring of Framework targets functions as a management tool to help countries develop disaster risk reduction mechanisms, risk-informed policy processes and allocate resources to mitigate disaster risks. Alignment of the Sendai framework with various SDGs
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Disaster Management Planning for Indian Cities
For effective DRR in India, a 2005 Disaster Management Act (DMA 2005) was enacted with an effective response mechanism through the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), various committees that enacted it. depend on and structure at state and district level. However, considering the growing contribution of urban areas to the country’s GDP, and at the same time the losses suffered due to the threat of disasters such as urban floods, heatstroke, cyclones, etc. and certain man-made disasters affecting critical infrastructure in cities; Indian city resilience through city-level disaster management preparedness is needed.
City-level disaster management planning through their provisions in master plans and disaster-resilient reconstruction of critical infrastructure can serve as a major tool to achieve SDG target 11.5 and contribute to a more sustainable future for all. .
When a city is faced with a natural disaster, the main focus is on responses to minimize losses and protect those most affected. In any city, the low-lying areas where squatters thrive are directly exposed to flooding. Development along the flood plains in an uninformed manner and with makeshift materials results in loss of life and people losing their homes with recurrent flooding, which is never counted.
Likewise, areas that are generally prone to landslide hazards are at the base or top of a steep slope and old fill slope, in or at the base of minor drainage pits, on d ‘old existing landslides. To mitigate the significant impact of a landslide, construction should be avoided near steep slopes, near mountain edges, near drainage routes or valleys of natural erosion, and an assessment of the terrain of all property must be carried out exhaustively. In addition, the occurrence of earthquakes in steep areas prone to landslides greatly increases the likelihood of devastating mudslides and the reactivation of mass movements on the slopes. Large embankments can become unstable due to moderate seismic activity if proper lateral support is not provided.
Hydrological disasters (droughts and floods) account for the bulk (55%) of total natural events and take a heavy toll on the vulnerable part of society in Indian cities. They are also specifically part of SDG 11.5. Hunger, poverty, epidemics and malnutrition, widespread agricultural failures, loss of livestock and water shortages intensify the threat of disaster risk. Therefore, alongside regional disaster management planning, city-wide planning is also strongly recommended.
City disaster management plans
Two metropolitan cities in India, Kolkata and Chennai, have taken an important step in developing the City’s Disaster Management Plan (CDMP). These CDMPs were prepared on the basis of the guidelines of the National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP) and the National Disaster Management Plan (SDMP). The plans take into account the vulnerabilities of the city’s geography, demography, history of disasters and its social and environmental aspects. The systemic interconnection of geographic contexts and GDP impacts must be taken into consideration to effectively monitor and strengthen disaster risk reduction. The CDMP should be revised annually, based on needs and past experience.
Main highlights of the Kolkata Disaster Management Plan (CDMP)
â Aims to develop a multi-hazard account for all stakeholders containing roles and responsibilities, contact details and predetermined action plan (standard operating procedures) for disaster management in Kolkata city with an infrastructure and inter-organizational effort well coordinated.
â A coordination meeting related to monsoon activity throughout the monsoon season should be organized at all levels of the organization.
â The Kolkata CDMP plans to initiate a public-private partnership (PPP) in disaster management.
â This plan encourages a paradigm shift from a relief-centric approach to an integrated approach to pre-during-post-disaster management.
Main highlights of the Chennai Disaster Management Plan (CDMP)
â This plan takes into account the vulnerabilities of Chennai and its districts according to their geography, their demography, their past disaster and their social and environmental aspects.
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â The Greater Chennai Corporation’s (GCC) plan mainly focuses on coordinating with the metrology department and the Indian National Ocean Information Services Center (INCOIS) to get the warning report and alerts.
â An early warning system for disasters with very high frequency equipment and sound systems with sirens, aimed at the public by air.
â GCC has set up 24-hour helplines for individual complaints at headquarters in each of the 15 zones.
The CDMP has been largely aligned with the goals and priorities set in the Sendai framework of DRR and SDGs.
The way forward for Indian cities Rapid urbanization is leading to threatening decline of ecosystems, which impacts the resilience of cities. A paradigm shift from the response approach to a comprehensive risk mitigation approach needs to be embraced by Indian cities. The framework, mechanism and funding are currently limited to response and not risk reduction. The following figure describes a general framework, potential avenues and key characteristics that cities can adopt to prepare a city disaster management plan.
A framework with the main characteristics of the city’s disaster management plan
The following actions are recommended to protect Indian cities from disasters:
â It is strongly encouraged to safeguard natural buffer zones to improve the protective functions of ecosystems.
â Planning decisions and processes are currently based on political economy and / or ease of engineering. Building regulations are often limited to a few risks such as earthquakes which only account for five percent of total disasters in India. Others, such as cyclones, droughts and floods, which constitute the largest 95%, are still not taken into account. Thus, a multi-risk approach must be put into practice.
â As suggested in the disaster management plan for Calcutta and Chennai, cities should have a document that gives a comprehensive picture of the city in the context of disaster management and should be aligned with the agenda set out in the disaster management plan. Sendai framework.
Read also: SDG 11.5 Reduce disaster risk and save lives
â Inadequate technical and institutional capacities and critical data gaps constitute an obstacle to the conduct of risk assessment practices. Cities need to build infrastructural and institutional resilience and societal capacity.
â Integration of advanced IT services with early warning and surveillance systems can comprehensively identify vulnerable population groups and geographic regions.
â An essential component of the disaster resilience governance framework must be the capacity to support services and housing for marginalized communities and vulnerable populations in cities.
â In order to build financial capacity, cities need to budget to invest in building long-term resilience. Private investments can play a fundamental role in building financial resilience and developing institutional readiness to achieve economic, social and environmental benefits