Story | 07 May, 2018

IUCN organises community training on Disaster Risk Reduction in Himachal Pradesh, India

IUCN along with local NGO partner – Society for Technology Development, organised a three-day training programme from 23-25 April 2018, on Disaster Risk Reduction for local communities in Fozal Watershed, District Kullu, Himachal Pradesh. The training aimed to build understanding among the local community about the types of disasters their villages are vulnerable to, and train them on emergency responses to such disasters.

Under the Government of India’s National Mission on Himalayan Studies (NMHS), IUCN is implementing a project on ‘Coping with Uncertainties: Building Community Resilience and Ecosystem Based Adaptation to Climate Change in the Indian Himalayan Region (CwU)’ in three Himalayan States, one of which is Himachal Pradesh. As an effort to build community resilience to disasters risks, IUCN organised a three-day training programme on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) for the local community in the project site of Fozal Watershed. The target audiences were from all three Gram Panchayats (Village Councils) namely, Hurrang, Pichlihar and Mandalgarh of the watershed. The expert speakers on DRR were from District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), Kullu, State Forest Department, and Nature & Life Savers Association (an NGO working on DRR). The training saw active participation of school staff, students, local community, and Gram Panchayat members, and was attended by more than 200 participants.

Ms. Harkanchan Singh from DDMA explained about different types of disasters and the associated risks. Ms. Singh also spoke on the possible response against each type of disaster. A simple exercise of ‘Drop, Cover and Hold On’ was organized for the local community and especially the school children as part of preparedness drill on earthquake. This meant that during an earthquake one was to DROP to the ground, take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of hard furniture, and HOLD ON until the shaking of the ground stopped before evacuating to safe locations. Ms. Singh also encouraged the Gram Panchayat members to constitute village level DRR committees and develop emergency response plans for each village.

Mr. Manoj Kumar, State Forest Department, spoke about different types of forest fires and the damage caused due to these fires in Kullu over the last five years. Mr. Kumar added that as most of these forest fires were man-made, it was important to generate awareness to prevent and control the fires before it became life-threatening.

Mr. Prem Mahant, Nature & Life Savers Association, highlighted that nature based approaches have immense potential for reducing the risk from disasters. Mr. Mahant also conducted practical exercises on emergency response and rescue actions. This involved learning the basics of using ropes and knots, making stretcher from available resources, and using triage ribbons (red, yellow, green and black) to indicate priority of injured persons, among others.

IUCN also carried out a survey among the training participants to evaluate the participants’ current levels of awareness, risk perception and preparedness. This information will help IUCN in planning future interventions on DRR in Fozal Watershed.

For more information on the project, please click here.