DISASTER MANAGEMENT NEEDS AND GREEN TOWNS

Angel

Across the world, there is a rapid increase in urban living and an ever greater understanding of the consequences of Global Climate Change. Indian Town is experiencing warmer weather, hotter summers and delayed winters. Even, we can expect much greater changes in the decades ahead.

The population is increasing day by day and with no specific control on the increasing population explosion, there is a fierce struggle for land and space. There is also an increase in the intake of food and water. So, all these factors lead to an increase in demand graph and supply chart seems to go down. This is a worrying fact for a town, which needs to survive this trouble times.

Hence, we need to find some sustainable approach to keep a balance. The approach should be in areas concerning water, land, food and the air we breathe. All these are the basics of human survival. Let us take the example of water. It’s not the simple expansion of irrigation. It had an ecological and social dimension as well and was the key to rural transformation. Providing a limited but assured quantity of water to all urban households irrespective of their landholding is the key for water conservation. Now, to serve such dispersed need, the systems required had to be entirely different – technologically and socially. The population of the world tripled in the 20th century and now the use of renewable resources have grown six fold. Within the next fifty years the World population will increase by 40%-50%. Now this population growth coupled with industrialization and urbanization will result in an increasing demand of water and will have serious consequences in the environment. Already there is more waste water generated and dispersed today than at any other time in the history of our planet: more than one out of six people lack access to safe drinking water, namely 1.1 billion people, and more than two out of six lack adequate sanitation, namely 2.6 billion people

(Estimation for 2002, by the WHO/UNICEF JMP, 2004). One must know that these figures represent only people with very poor conditions. In reality, these figures should be much higher.

Less availability of water leads to water stress. Water stress results from an imbalance between water use and water resources. The water stress indicator in this map measures the proportion of water withdrawal with respect to total renewable resources. The depleting resource leads to many tensions over neighbors, communities, districts, states and countries. So, it is a real fact that there is a water crisis today. “But the crisis is not about having too little water to satisfy our needs. It is a crisis of managing water so badly that billions of people – and the environment – suffer badly.” World Water Vision Report

With this current state of affairs, correcting measures still can be taken to avoid the crisis to be worsening. There is an increasing awareness that our freshwater resources are limited and need to be protected both in terms of quantity and quality. This water challenge affects not only the water community, but also decision-makers and every human being. “Water is everybody’s business” was one the key messages of the 2nd World Water Forum. Indian Towns are no different.

Another challenging factor, which haunts an Indian town, is Green Cover.

As per the report of National Institute of Environmental Studies, Bangalore has a Green Cover of 8.60 per cent, National Capital Region (New Delhi): 8.49 per cent, Greater Mumbai: 6.20 per cent, Chennai: 7.50 percent. The most astonishing fact is that Kolkata has a very less Green cover of 0.95 per cent. The numbers indicate percentage of green cover as a proportion of the total area for major Indian towns. Needless to say, the list — prepared by the Delhi-based National Institute of Environment Studies.

(NIES), who had made it clear that Calcutta has the lowest green count among all the towns.

It’s stated that as per the established norms the green cover should be atleast 15 percent for mega-towns for a population of one – million. Lack of open space and greenery increases air pollution and triggers respiratory and other problems, besides raising temperature, affecting biodiversity and causing psychosomatic disorders among citizens. According to the report it also states that the Green Cover of the town has continuously been depleting from 1.3 per cent in 1997-98 to 0.95 per cent in 1999-2000, due to indiscriminate felling of trees due to various reasons.

Hence, it is very clear that most Indian Towns faces many environmental challenges. The Project recognizes that a variety of methods will be needed to tackle climate change and its consequences and that living roofs and walls can play a significant role in tackling the situation. The greening of a roof can support rare and interesting types of plant, which in turn can host or provide suitable habitat for a variety of rare and interesting invertebrates.

These would serve many purposes:
a) Help to reduce global warming and green house gas effect
b) Help to reduce urban heat island effect (UHIE)
c) Help to reduce energy and carbon-dioxide emissions
d) Help to enhance bio-diversity, reduce flood, earthquake, cyclone and other disaster risks, provide insulation and improve the appearance of the town.

Creation of Green Bus Shelters will not only increase the green cover. The mission would be to increase the green look of the town as well as educate the public about the many environmental benefits of green roofs, as well as improve urban air quality and provide attractive waiting spaces for public transit users. The Green Bus Shelters will serve the following purposes:

a) Filtering air pollution and particulates from vehicle exhaust
b) Managing storm water by slowing the runoff rate
c) Adding an extra layer of insulation to roofs
d) Providing wildlife habitat opportunities in a dense urban area.

The next concept is Rain water harvesting and creation of Rain Homes. This will together create a Sustainable Rain Neighbourhoods. A sustainable neighbourhood is a mixed used area with a feeling of community. It is a place where people want to live and work, now and in the future. Sustainable neighbourhoods meet the diverse needs of existing and future residents, are sensitive to their environment, and contribute to a high quality of life. They are safe and inclusive, well planned, built and run, and offer equality of opportunity and good services to all. (Bristol Accord, 6-7 December 2005)

Sustainable Rain Neighbourhoods will make the communities have access to round the clock usage of water, irrespective of the number of people through effective capturing, storing and usage of Rain water.

Wastes and its disposal is another problem which haunts a metropolitan town. Human is behind every developmental sector. The large scale production and improper disposal of waste has become a source of pollution and further accumulation of garbage has resulted in serious deterioration of quality of life and the ecological balance. An initiative need to be taken on the need of systemic waste management.

An example of Kolkata states that approximately more than 2920 ton/d of solid waste are generated in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) area and the budget allocation for 2007–2008 was Rs. 1590 million (US$40 million). Major deficiencies were found in all elements of Solid Waste Management. Lack of suitable facilities (equipment and infrastructure) and underestimates of waste generation rates, inadequate management and technical skills, improper bin collection are responsible for poor collection and transportation of municipal solid wastes. The project tries to give focus in this grey area and encourages segregation of wastes in homes. Segregation of waste right is a solution to the problem and the project focuses on this initiative.

Waste can be segregated as
1. Biodegradable
Organic waste, e.g. kitchen waste, vegetables, fruits, flowers, leaves from the garden and paper
2. Non-biodegradable
Recyclable waste – plastic, paper, glass, metal etc
Toxic waste – old medicines, paints, chemicals, bulbs, spray cans, fertilizer and
pesticide containers, batteries, shoe polish.
Soiled – hospital waste such as cloth soiled with blood and other body fluids.

Toxic and soiled waste must be disposed of with utmost care.

For any project to be successful, there need to create lot of awareness campaigns. The purpose of the campaign would be to help everyone learn how to make the town a better place to live, in both small and big ways. The project will focus on creation of WORLD BANK Calendars, posters, hoardings along with the State/Local Government for conservation of energy and water, reducing noise levels and importance of increasing Green Cover in the town.

The project hence focuses on the following:
a) Water Conservation ways
b) Creation of Sustainable Rain Neighbourhoods by creation of ‘RAIN HOMES’ and Rain Water Harvesting Method
c) Reducing the impact of natural disaster risks
d) Creation of Green Bus Shelters
e) Creation of Green living roofs and walls
f) Segregation of Wastes Bins
g) Calendar, Poster, Hoarding on conservation of energy and water, reducing noise levels and importance of increasing Green Cover.
g) Tie- up with local FM channels.

CONCLUSION:

Across the world there is a rapid increase in urban living and an ever greater understanding of the consequences of global climate change. Indian Cites is experiencing warmer, wetter winters; hotter, drier summers and we can expect much greater changes in the decades ahead. As population increases, we are developing more sustainable approaches to development, using natural systems to shape and support growth. Excellent architecture and urban design is required if the Town has to adapt to the extremes of climate change. The concept would help to solve the existing environmental problem and make a Green Town with clean air – a role model for other mega towns that are contending with similar problems. The activities of the proposal will develop the technological concepts that make life in tomorrow’s mega towns easier, kinder and more pleasant to the environment.

For further details, please contact:

Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist

Website:  http://www.theideas.in/

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NATURAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT AND NEED FOR PLANNING PROCESS

Disaster Management is a combination of environmental, developmental and social issues coupled with administrative directives, operational skills of an organization and its capacities to implement those to lessen the adverse effects of an emergency. The other important constituent of risk management is precise information flow which in itself is a form of disaster response in its own right.

May it be a Mexican Earthquake or an 8.7 earth shattering phenomenon at the city of Banda Aceh or the northern tip of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island or Chile or Haiti Earthquake, which leads to eradication of hundreds of lives.
Seismic activities occur everywhere and coupled with floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, drought & landslides, they compose a complete chronicle of human destruction. The challenges seem to be more and but it also provides saving options. The risks faced due to any environmental disaster are not only due to losses in lives, environment, health status, livelihoods and assets but also for the services that could occur in a particular community or a society over some specified future time period.
Environmental Calamity Management is a highly complex problem and has diverse manifestations. It is a phenomenon which affects people in different ways and is the result of social, cultural, economic and political factors. It is to be noted that all crises do not give rise to emergencies and the radical changes do not mean that it is always in negative.
The vision of the policy makers should be to assist the vulnerable and poor people to bring about positive change and to support their capacity to withstand adverse changes that may affect their social and economic developments. The changes should be made after proper judgment as any changes for the vulnerable people or the communities may give rise to a crisis that may overpower their capacity to cope and hence is an uncalled emergency. Crisis is not only about this unexpected catastrophe but also the sum-up of this slow build-up of political, social, economic and environmental factors. Along with all these issues, there is a combination of unexpected incident such as cyclone, flood, earthquake, drought or any other type of major accidents, which would definitely add to these changes in a very negative way. Hence, it is critical that relief interventions addresses these issue which are the standing parameters for a crisis and which leads to Environmental Catastrophes.
It is this inequity and poverty, which make people more vulnerable to the effects of Natural and Industrial Hazards. It is a well known fact that Natural Resources are divided into two categories, renewable and non-renewable sources of energy. Human Beings would never lack vital materials if he/she would adjust his population size and resource demands at or below the level that allows the biogeochemical cycles to operate in such a way that materials as well as organizations are “reassembled” as fast they are “dispersed”. The shift from “special interest conservation” to “total ecosystem conservation” helps to establish the fact that human beings are a part of a complex environment which must be studied, treated and modified as a whole and not on the basis of isolated “projects”. Hence there is a need to take cautions while tampering with the Environment with lakes to draining, fillings, dredging, pollutions, stabilizations, mosquito control, algae control and the planting of any fish, which are able to swim. It is we humans, who constrict them with levees and dams and then flush them with dredging, channelizations and floods and silt of bad farming.
The other most important factor is proper flow of information. Responding to the Indian Ocean Tsunami Aid Agencies distributed remarkable amounts of relief aid. But despite this, some needy groups were missed. In some cases, aid went to men and the specific needs of women were not met. In others, aid went to dominant social groups, sidelining tribal people and outcastes. Information about them was lacking.
The obvious questions are: Does the people in a disaster stricken area get enough information? Do they receive the caution before a natural disaster? Do the people of a country have the power to involve themselves in management of environmental disasters?
In a disaster area, there are different types of information: It includes everything from facts to deep understanding & may include lies and deception. It should be kept in mind that gathering data is a one-way process. If one has to acquire knowledge and wisdom, we need to involve and exchange ideas and analyze those in the light of experience, through discussion and interviews or multiple channels of communication.
If the disaster victim can recognize an aid agency’s capacity and viewpoints, they can give better advice as how to help them. It is the dialogue than the data that matters.
If we analyze the intensity of a cyclone & its destruction, the deaths and damages caused, it would indicate very diverse co-relationship between the economic leader of the countries and the actual loss of the communities. One of the deadliest cyclones- the cyclone Bhola of 1970 in East Pakistan was classified as Category III (maximum wind speed 205 km) and it killed three hundred thousand people while the economic loss was estimated at US$ 86.4 million.
If we go back to 2004’s hurricane season at Cuba, the country proved again how effective it is in protecting human life from the worst disaster. It was Hurricane Charley which swept into Cuba on 13th August 2004 where 70,000 houses were severely destroyed and four people died. When hurricane Ivan came to the coastline of Cuba, with greater force, over 2 million people were evacuated but none of them lost their lives.
So, how does Cuba do wonders and save lives from the clutches of such horrible hurricanes?
They overpower natural catastrophes as they take Disaster Management in a broader sense addressing issues and policies related to environmental sustainability, social sustainability, information flow and channelization of those in masses and also focus on needs for good quality education in environmental disaster management.
In Cuba, evacuation orders are mandatory – an important distinction from other neighboring countries. Public transport is provided to get people to shelters. Local branches of Federation of Cuban Women help and persuade reluctant people to accept evacuation, so it is rare that the police or army has to step in.
There is a need to ensure that disaster mitigation efforts are not just top to down and is rather based on direct information from the communities.
Risk Mapping is about consideration of direct link from the environmental factors, logical responses and changing pattern of tensions and relationships. Social division and inequality effect risks and its management. Hence there is a need to develop a methodology for analyzing conflict, which should be based on drawing up ‘maps’ of causes and can be superimposed on a similar map of responses.
The next factor is Environmental Sustainability. When the human population of an area is small, poor land use may affect only the people who are guilty of bad judgment. As the population increases, everyone suffers if land is improperly used because everyone eventually pays for rehabilitation or is now too often the case; everyone suffers a permanent loss of resources. A small example is if grasslands in low regions are plowed up and planted to wheat (poor land use), a “dust bowl” or temporary desert will sooner or later be a result. If the grass cover is maintained and moderately grazed (good land use), no dust bowl will likely to be developed. It is a general observance that good land use planning has come only after human has first destroyed or damaged a landscape. It is just as the saying goes that Human does not seem to understand a system which he did not build and therefore he seemingly must partially destroy and rebuild before use limitations are understood.
One solution to these problems are:
i) Cluster development: A cluster development of residential housing around village or town centers with each unit separated by broad green belts.
ii) By retaining stream valleys, steep slopes, lakes, marshes, aquifer recharge areas, waste disposal areas free from houses, buildings, and other high density uses. Without such planning, there might be no open space, and which would lead to the same kind of urban blight, chronic pollution and social disorder that we now observe in older, unplanned cities.
Generally, the short term profits that can be made by exploiting urban land are so huge that it is difficult for people to foresee the socio-ecologic backlashes and overshoots that accompany uncontrolled growth.
With the increase in population, food supplies will reduce resulting in increasing prices.
In other words, the size and quality of the “environmental house” should be an important consideration and not the number of resources; we can relentlessly squeeze from the earth. A reasonable goal could be to stress on the fact that a third of all land could be under open space use. The dependence of a city on the countryside for all its vital resources (food, water, air and so on) and the dependence of the country on the city for economic resources become so widely recognized that the present political confrontation that exists between the rural and urban populations is obliterated.
The next obvious aspects are creation of Sustainable Livelihoods. The real basis for assessing the appropriateness of any type of intervention is an understanding of livelihood systems and the strategies in which people are already engaged, the problems which they face and the ways in which they are adapting to changing environmental and economic conditions. The notion of “livelihood” systems” takes into account the wide range of people’s roles, activities, personal capacities and resources, which make up the way they make a living; and how these elements are related to each other.
It is here comes the concept of serving the poor profitability. These are the people who have great needs, but they can’t express their requirements in a way which may matter to markets. Markets seem to avoid the needs as it doesn’t bring profit and hence poor always tend to remain poorer. It is where Government and corporate houses comes into play and try to make a difference. But today Corporate Social Responsibility seemed to break that ‘tax free’ attitude and has come for the betterment of the World as more World Business Leaders tries to come forward with their aim to improve the smaller parts of the globe where their presence is felt.
Hence the ways forward are:
a) Recognize that Environmental Sustainability is a must for containing a Disaster
b) Recognize that Social Sustainability along with development is necessary for good Risk Reduction
c) Recognize information as a form of disaster response in its own right
d) Support better access to information and communications along with technology for vulnerable communities
e) Build a partnership for sharing information with communities, local governments, media, telephone companies and Industries.
f) Women and men of all ages from disaster affected areas and wider local populations, including vulnerable groups should receive information about the assistance programme and are given the opportunity to comment to the assistance agency during all stages.
Its then we could save many number of human lives with minimum causalities.

Please send your feedback in the e-mail address given below.
Thanks and Regards,
Mainak Majumdar
Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

DISASTER MANAGEMENT

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September 11 attacks or the spread of Anthrax or the rising fear of a Nuclear Disaster, the emergence of the term Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Disaster (CBRN) is becoming a challenging issue infront of Governments of the World. Central to such preparation and response planning are the roles of districts, states, local -self Governments, National Government Departments, which includes activities ranging from global intelligence gathering to local emergency response. Beginning in the mid-1990s and accelerating rapidly since September 2001, all levels of Government have focused on improving their capabilities to foresee, intercept, prepare for and respond to these CBRN disasters.

Many Government Agencies, non-governmental organizations and individuals charged with emergency preparedness, response and management are being encouraged all over the World to intricate emergency Plans into training, education and public awareness campaigns. These days, Governments and Industries are enabling themselves to co-operate and find solutions to this blazing problem.

CBRN is an initiation for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear disaster. The term is used worldwide to refer to incidents or weapons in which any of these four hazards have presented them. In the fifties the expression ABC (Atomic, Biological and Chemical) was in use and was modified during the cold war to NBC (Nuclear, biological and chemical). Later the term R (radiological) was introduced as a consequence of the “new” threat radiological weapon (also known as the “poor man’s atomic bomb). CBRN agents are commonly referred as weapons of mass destruction. A wide range of these agents are available, but there are problems related to their manufacture, storage and disposal.

A CBR device functions by wind dispersal. During that instance the evacuation of people and control of ventilation turn out to be a main concern. The methods that are followed are prevention, detection, preparedness and response. Justifiably in order to protect the populace from any eventualities of CBRN attacks, there is a requirement of co-ordination between various Government agencies, Industries, Non-governmental organizations and departments like transport, home, environment, health etc, which would work in close cooperation as an assistance provider to the civilian authorities. There are two main issues, which in the intervening time have increased the risk of CBRN viz. trafficking and dual-use nature of CBRN materials. Hence there is a need for a number of national and multilateral legal instruments to come forward to stop the access of CBRN materials as pillars of prevention and agree to a uniform policy package on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) security. The world needs to have all necessary tools at hand to counteract this menace and spread awareness about the grave nature of CBRN threat. There is a requirement for discussion on these issues with proper documents prepared and adopted by various institutions as well as the National Government to present the Indian endeavor to address risks of CBRN disaster.

Chemical, Biological and Nuclear emergencies having potential of becoming a disaster may occur due to accidental spill, terrorism activities as well as use of chemical and nuclear warfare agents. It is difficult to predict when such activities will occur or whether the target will be military or a civilian unit. It has been observed in past that it occurred when it was least expected. In some countries the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has been identified as the nodal agency in the country in respect of human made radiological emergencies in the public domain. For example, a Crisis Management Group (CMG) has been functioning since 1987 in DAE, India. In the event of any radiological or nuclear emergency in the public domain, the CMG is immediately activated and will co-ordinate between the local authority in the affected area and the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC). The CMG comprises of senior officials drawn from various units of DAE like the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL), Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Heavy Water Board (HWB) and the Directorate of Purchase and Stores (DP&S). It also includes senior officials from the regulatory authority and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).

In general chemical and biological agents are considered to be cheaper and easier to produce. Radioactive materials that could be used for such contamination are available from a wide range of relatively non-secure facilities, including hospitals, medical and research laboratories, universities, waste dumps and so forth. The use of biological weapons become more eminent as apart from the natural transnational movement of these pathogenic organisms, their potential use as biological warfare and bio-terrorism has become far more important now than ever before. Small Pox and Anthrax are the most common agents and has the ability to cause widespread calamity. These types of incidents trigger human panic. These biological agents mainly bacteria, virus, toxins, fungi are living organisms and their toxic products can kill or incapacitate people, livestock and plants. These agents can be dispersed by spraying them into air, infecting animals that carry disease to humans and by contaminating food and water. Potentially hundreds of human pathogens could be used as weapons; however public health authorities have identified only a few as having the potential to cause causalities leading to civil disruptions.

The United Nations had closely been associated with CBRN disasters through its different programmes and specialized agencies. It was acknowledged later that there was a need to tackle the consequences of nuclear and biological related disasters, which has spurred the development of wide ranging international co-operation in science, humanitarian assistance and technology. National Disaster Management Authority, Government of India have proactively taken steps in the direction of institutionalization of the framework for “all hazard” emergency response in disasters culminated into the formulation of the National Guidelines on Medical Preparedness and Mass Causality Management, Nuclear and Radiological Disaster Management, Chemical Disaster Management etc. World Health Organization has been associated with Medical, Biological and Radiological Disasters for long. It was in the year 1989 WHO first raised concerns that local medical scientists had incorrectly attributed various biological and health effects to radiation exposure during the Chernobyl incident. Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) has been spreading awareness about Nuclear Disasters for long and one example is at Jitapur, Maharashtra, India where this public sector enterprise is actively working to set up a nuclear plant keeping all concerns into account & carefully finding the mitigation strategies. In Fiscal year 2009, USAID and Office of U.S Foreign Disaster Assistance responded to 63 disasters in 49 countries to assist nearly 55 million disaster-affected people. In Africa, OFDA disaster responses included assistance to populations affected by complex emergencies, food insecurity, ammunitions explosion, cholera and measles outbreaks.

There are new CBRN detection tools which will help us to use our ability to employ adequate detection methods, use modern and effective decontamination technologies and equipment, deal efficiently with decontamination wastes and do all of these in a safe manner. It’s a challenge for the Research Teams to come up with more innovative solutions to better equip and protect the community from these types of disaster.

Hence solutions need to be found for response strategies at the personal levels to these types of attacks or accidents. Though it needs some effort but a small step to aware and to empower ourselves with knowledge about disasters and its management could give us more days to live life and make a safer world for us as well as for the future generations.

Thanks and Regards,

Mainak Majumdar

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

DISASTER MANAGEMENT AND GREEN CITIES

Greener City
Green City

I thought of writing this small write-up since it has been going in my mind for last two years. I’m trying to express that thought through the following document.

Across the world, there is a rapid increase in urban living and an ever greater understanding of the consequences of Global Climate Change. Cities are experiencing warmer weather, hotter summers and delayed winters. Even, we can expect much greater changes in the decades ahead.

The population is increasing day by day and with no specific control on the increasing population explosion, there is a fierce struggle for land and space. There is also an increase in the intake of food and water. So, all these factors lead to an increase in demand graph and supply chart seems to go down. This is a worrying fact for a city, which needs to survive this trouble times. 

Hence, we need to find some sustainable approach to keep a balance. The approach should be in areas concerning water, land, food and the air we breathe. All these are the basics of human survival. Let us take the example of water. It’s not the simple expansion of irrigation. It had an ecological and social dimension as well and was the key to rural transformation. Providing a limited but assured quantity of water to all urban households irrespective of their landholding is the key for water conservation. Now, to serve such dispersed need, the systems required had to be entirely different – technologically and socially. The population of the world tripled in the 20th century and now the use of renewable resources have grown six fold. Within the next fifty years the World population will increase by 40%-50%. Now this population growth coupled with industrialization and urbanization will result in an increasing demand of water and will have serious consequences in the environment. Already there is more waste water generated and dispersed today than at any other time in the history of our planet: more than one out of six people lack access to safe drinking water, namely 1.1 billion people, and more than two out of six lack adequate sanitation, namely 2.6 billion people.

(Estimation for 2002, by the WHO/UNICEF JMP, 2004) One must know that these figures represent only people with very poor conditions. In reality, these figures should be much higher.

Less availability of water leads to water stress. Water stress results from an imbalance between water use and water resources. The water stress indicator in this map measures the proportion of water withdrawal with respect to total renewable resources. The depleting resource leads to many tensions over neighbors, communities, districts, states and countries. So, it is a real fact that there is a water crisis today. But the crisis is not about having too little water to satisfy our needs. It is a crisis of managing water so badly that billions of people – and the environment – suffer badly.”  World Water Vision Report

With this current state of affairs, correcting measures still can be taken to avoid the crisis to be worsening. There is an increasing awareness that our freshwater resources are limited and need to be protected both in terms of quantity and quality. This water challenge affects not only the water community, but also decision-makers and every human being. “Water is everybody’s business” was one the key messages of the 2nd World Water Forum. Indian Cities are no different.

Another challenging factor, which haunts an Indian city, is Green Cover.

As per the report of National Institute of Environmental Studies, Bangalore has a Green Cover of 8.60 per cent, National Capital Region (New Delhi): 8.49 per cent, Greater Mumbai: 6.20 per cent, Chennai: 7.50 percent. The most astonishing fact is that Kolkata has a very less Green cover of 0.95 per cent. The numbers indicate percentage of green cover as a proportion of the total area for major Indian cities. Needless to say, the list — prepared by the Delhi-based National Institute of Environment Studies (NIES), who had made it clear that Calcutta has the lowest green count among all the cities.

It’s stated that as per the established norms the green cover should be at least 15 percent for mega-cities for a population of one – million. Lack of open space and greenery increases air pollution and triggers respiratory and other problems, besides raising temperature, affecting biodiversity and causing psychosomatic disorders among citizens. According to the report it also states that the Green Cover of the city has continuously been depleting from 1.3 per cent in 1997-98 to 0.95 per cent in 1999-2000, due to indiscriminate felling of trees due to various reasons.

Hence, it is very clear that most Indian Cities faces many environmental challenges. Hence a variety of methods will be needed to tackle climate change and its consequences and that living roofs and walls can play a significant role in tackling the situation. The greening of a roof can support rare and interesting types of plant, which in turn can host or provide suitable habitat for a variety of rare and interesting invertebrates.

These would serve many purposes:

a)    Help to reduce global warming and green house gas effect

b)    Help to reduce urban heat island effect (UHIE)

c)    Help to reduce energy and carbon-dioxide emissions

d)    Help to enhance bio-diversity, reduce flood risk, provide insulation and improve the appearance of the city.

Creation of Green Bus Shelters will not only increase the green cover. The mission would be to increase the green look of the city as well as educate the public about the many environmental benefits of green roofs, as well as improve urban air quality and provide attractive waiting spaces for public transit users.  The Green Bus Shelters will serve the following purposes:

a)    Filtering air pollution and particulates from vehicle exhaust

b)    Managing storm water by slowing the runoff rate

c)    Adding an extra layer of insulation to roofs

d)    Providing wildlife habitat opportunities in a dense urban area.

The next concept is Rain water harvesting and creation of Rain Homes. This will together create a Sustainable Rain Neighbourhoods. A sustainable neighbourhood is a mixed used area with a feeling of community. It is a place where people want to live and work, now and in the future. Sustainable neighbourhoods meet the diverse needs of existing and future residents, are sensitive to their environment, and contribute to a high quality of life. They are safe and inclusive, well planned, built and run, and offer equality of opportunity and good services to all. (Bristol Accord, 6-7 December 2005)

Sustainable Rain Neighbourhoods will make the communities have access to round the clock usage of water, irrespective of the number of people through effective capturing, storing and usage of Rain water.

Wastes and its disposal is another problem which haunts a metropolitan city. Human is behind every developmental sector. The large-scale production and improper disposal of waste has become a source of pollution and further accumulation of garbage has resulted in serious deterioration of quality of life and the ecological balance.  An initiative need to be taken on the need of systemic waste management. We need to have good projects all around the globe to address these issues and plan its mitigation policies. It’s then we can move towards a Safer World for us as well as for the future generations.

For any project to be successful, there is a need to create lot of awareness campaigns. The purpose of the campaign would be to help everyone learn how to make the city a better place to live, in both small and big ways.

Hope through these write-up, International Agencies, Government and Non-Government organizations take up these projects so that we can see a Greener and a Safer World.

Thanks a lot for reading. Please put a comment if your time permits.

Thanks and Regards,

Mainak Majumdar

Assistant Director (Disaster Management) in India’s Industry and Business organization at New Delhi

Specialist in Disaster Management and Environmental Sciences

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

Psychological Support In Disaster Management

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Disasters can happen anytime and at anyplace. Natural disasters are so frequent that one generally attributes it to fate. Sometimes the destructive forces of Nature become so strong that all our plans and policies fall like cards. We become helpless infront of the mighty Nature. When everything comes to an end, wherever one looks, the sight of the helpless victims fills our eyes. Children’s become orphans. Husbands lose their wives and vice-versa. The scenes are extremely painful. Lots of money in the form of grants flows for reconstruction. The obvious question that comes to ones mind is:

Is monetary help really meets their needs?

The answer will be in negative. Scenes horrendous in nature, fear, trauma and stress do engulf them. They are living dead.

The only solution to the problem is Psychological Support. In many projects a good psychological support program misses.

We have to explore those and that’s what humanity is all about.

Psychological support has become an important component of the disaster preparation and response repertoire. This occurred in the background of the need to understand mechanisms for the reduction of hazards related to disasters. The United Nations International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR), 1990-99, was dedicated to promoting solutions to reduce risks from natural hazards (ISDR 2002). But it’s not always Natural Disasters that happens and leaves a scar in the minds of the people. It’s also man-made situations or accidents, which do lead to devastations. Now, it is recognized that riots, industrial accidents, acts of terrorism, internal displacement and insurgency are also roots cause for Psychological Trauma for the people. Though, these types of support are being carried out by different organizations, yet we have to do more. We need an effective trauma management throughout the World. Trauma includes major injury of all types — disasters, auto accidents, falls, industrial accidents, burns, shootings etc. Serious trauma is the leading killer of humans. Millions across the World are disabled and some permanently. If we look through the doors of history, we will find that by middle of 1970s, the growth and development of mental hospitals was the main approach for the provision of mental health services.

In India, several disasters took place. Among them is Bangalore circus tragedy (1981). It was a major disaster and the lessons learned were ‘High Emotional Stress and morbidity by survivors not addressed by health personnel’.

Bhopal Gas Leak disaster: (December 1984) where, physicians and other health personnel’s were not prepared to offer psychological support to the victims. Even till today, the horrible memories haunt them.

Orissa Cyclone was another example. Left over 10,000 dead. Approximately 15 million affected and displaced. Initial and two year surveys show high emotional stress present among survivors.

The Gujarat earthquake was another example. Over 20,000 people dead in acute phase and 100,000 with severe disabilities. Good health care, with no psychological support when many needed emotional care is the root cause of creation of secondary disasters.

Many lessons were learned but still remains a serious issue less addressed. When we talk of improved technologies; use of GIS and Remote Sensing, mitigation policies, construction and renovation, we seldom talk of this soft part of humanity, which makes us a Human. The response to any type of crisis should also include Psychological First Aid, Crisis Intervention, Defusing, Education and solution-focused counseling. Psychological support then must be framed within the existing and accepted methodologies of the continuum of disasters. Different types of trauma may affect the victims. There are different ways in which the response may affect the survivors.

These include:

i) Major elements of loss

ii) Exposure to bodies

iii) Degradation and Humiliation in cases of trauma motivated by racial or religious reasons

iv) Forced separation and relocation.

Depending upon the types of disasters, the survivor may assume different types of emotional roles:

i) The survivor assumes the role of victim and responds as victimized.

ii) The survivor assumes the role of victor and responds to the event in an active way that will foster problem-solving skills and learning and will make the person resilient after the event.

Now if we take the second point and move forward, we could surely able to make experts who have not only faced the crisis but also channel their experience towards better Psychological Support. The Psychological support program does not perceive the survivors as passive actors during an emergency or a disaster, but relies on the resourcefulness of the survivor and the capacity of individuals and communities to become resilient.

So, the ways to move forward are:

i) Pre-disaster Management:

Design and implement psychological first- aid training

ii) During the disaster: People’s response based on previous knowledge and level of coping

iii) Post Disaster: Assessment and treatment of Psychological Symptoms

iv) End Result: Reduce responses of distress and negative behavioral changes McFarlane (1995), who studied the relationship between training and preparation to post-disaster said that education about possible disaster experiences and how to deal with them, training through simulations and awareness of likely psychological reactions in both responders and survivors are very helpful. In general, the professional community would benefit from focusing on psychological support before, during and after a disaster.

Community people react differently before a disaster and after a disaster.

Pre-Disaster :

This is a period, when a community reacts in various ways. Members of the community may be anxious when a disaster is imminent, especially if they have not experienced one before and they may not respond adequately to the event. When a disaster cannot be predicted; let’s take the example of earthquakes or a volcanic eruptions, the community may become anxious and over-respond to the event, which may be detrimental to their well being. The common sources of anxiety include the threat to ones own life and the safety and well being of others, such as partners or children.

During a Disaster:

The impact of a disaster varies according to the type of disaster and the amount of warning that the survivors have had prior to the event. The roles of each variable affecting the survivors will predicate the emotional response. For example, threat, exposure, loss and dislocation will be determinants of a survivor’s patterns of adjustment. A person’s actions are geared to protection of the self and others, especially children, family members and those who are weak and helpless.

Here comes the effects of “altruism”, which is frequent and people will place their lives at risk to help others. Some people experience “shock”, especially when the disaster is unexpected, which adds their feelings of helplessness and powerlessness. Another common response is to be disorganized or stunned and people may not be able to respond appropriately to protect themselves and their families. Such disorganized behavior may extend in the post-disaster phase and so one may find people wandering aimlessly in the devastation. This reaction may reflect distortions in responses to severe disaster stressors and may indicate a level of dissociation. After a disaster, any people face complications.

The most important among them are:

a) Emotional reactions in the form of somatic complaints such as sleep disturbance

b) Indigestion

c) Fatigue

d) Social effects

e) Relationship or work difficulties

So, all these state the importance of psychological care in the case of disaster management. Psychological care is always required in such types of incidents. As (Garmezy, 1983) states that the ‘role of psychological care is to foster individual and community resilience. Individual resilience applies to the capacity to recover from a negative experience with renewed enthusiasm and an increased capacity to respond positively to a subsequent stressful event. The communities should be well trained so that a resilient community takes action to enhance the personal and collective capacity of its citizens and institutions to respond to, and influence the course of social and economic change.

Some factors which can help in positive outcomes are:

a) Recognizing and reinforcing people’s strengths

b) Providing clear and accurate information and education

c) Reinforcing supportive networks

d) Supporting and developing community strengths and process

Apart from these the Psychological Team should be able to give:

• Give practical assistance, information and emotional support.

• Respect traditional beliefs and customs and accommodate the family’s needs as far as possible.

• Provide counseling for the woman/family and allow for reflection on the event.

• Explain the problem to help reduce anxiety and guilt. Many women/families blame themselves for what has happened.

• Listen and express understanding and acceptance of the woman’s feelings. Nonverbal communication may speak louder than words: a squeeze of the hand or a look of concern can say an enormous amount.

• Repeat information several times and give written information, if possible. People experiencing an emergency will not remember much of what is said to them.

• Health care providers may feel anger, guilt, sorrow, pain and frustration in the face of obstetric emergencies that may lead them to avoid the woman/family. Showing emotion is not a weakness.

• Remember to care for staff who themselves may experience guilt, grief, confusion and other emotions.

If these issues are given importance, we can move one step ahead in creation of a Safer, Stronger, Greener and a Disaster Free World for us as well as for our future generations.

Thanks and Regards,

Mr. Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

NATURAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT AND CORPORATE PHILANTHROPY (CSR)

Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate Social Responsibility

Dictionary meaning of ‘Philanthropy’ is ‘the effort or inclination to increase the well-being of humankind, as by charitable aid or donations.’ There is a continuous debate among the organizations regarding this factor. It’s a debate between critics and investors. The former states that Corporate Philanthropy is about applying pressure to maximize the short term profits, which the later disagrees. Investor’s states that corporate can use their charitable efforts to improve the competitive context – the quality of the business environment in the locations where they operate. Its not just business environment, but social environment too gets an uplift. Philanthropic investment’s has the power to improve education and local quality of life; which will in many ways benefit the company. It has been observed that ‘charitable giving’ raises about one-third as fast as the stock market and according to Giving USA, American philanthropy reach a record high in 2007, with donations totaling $314-billion. Giving has since dropped by 2% to $308 billion in 2008. It is estimated total charitable contributions will total $21.2 to $55.4 trillion between 1998- 2052. By the year 2055, some $41 trillion will change hands as Americans pass on their accumulated assets to the next generation. As of fiscal year the top U.S Grant Making Foundations are: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Ford Foundation, J. Paul Getty Trust, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, W.K Kellogg Foundation and the list go on. It was Mahatma Gandhi, who once said that, “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread”.

It is seen that majority of corporate contribution programs are diffuse and unfocused. Most consist of numerous small cash donations given to aid local civic causes or they provide general operating support to universities and national charities in the hope of generating goodwill among employees, customers and the local community. These types of programs clearly lack focus. These are works, what was done some hundred of years ago and still continuing. A number of companies have attempted to make their giving, more strategic. But what currently passes for strategic philanthropy has neither been really strategic, nor particularly effective. Rather than being tied to social or business objectives – the contributions often reflect the personal beliefs. These need to change and the use of strategic responsibility should be used. In turn, we can talk about the term of ‘Creative Capitalism’. In general the corporate can use their charitable efforts in improving their competitive context – the quality of their business environment and in the location or locations where they operate.

Using this strategy or method, it helps to increase or enhance the context which brings social and economic goals into alignment and improves the company’s long term business prospects. In addition; addressing context enables a company not only to give money but also to leverage its capabilities and relationships in support of charitable causes.

Today many companies are depending on local capacities. They mostly depend on brining talents from outside and collaborate with local Non-Governmental Organizations and Institutions, Universities to conduct research and development.

A company’s competitive context consists of four interrelated elements of the local business environment that shape potential productivity. They are:

a) Factor conditions

b) Available inputs of production

c) Demand productions

d) The context for strategy and rivalry and related and supporting industries

Clusters arise through the combined influence of all the four elements of context. They are often prominent features of a region’s economic landscape. Corporate responsibility clusters come in different shapes, sizes and types with different types of organization leading their development. Common, however, are their underlying effects on business performance by: expanding business ability to learn from diverse, rich sources; grow competencies to translate these learning into improved business performance; gain support from a growing network of service providers that enable companies to more effectively manage their relationships and reputation; and produce benefits from an approach to public policy that moulds markets in ways that reward responsible practices.

Now the clusters are of four types:

a) Challenge Clusters

b) Market-making Clusters

c) Partnership Clusters

d) Statutory Clusters

Challenge Clusters tend to be started or initiated by civil society players. Market making Clusters are often lead by one or more companies. They involve remolding competitive conditions from the inside and outside, which can be done by innovating more and more sustainable products. Partnership clusters means involving more formal, multisectoral partnerships, which can support competitive advantage. Statutory clusters involve public policies focused on CSR standards and practices that support competitive advantage.

These four types of clusters are neither static nor distinct phenomena. They really take one form for prolonged periods of time and often combine several or all these forms at different stages in their development. Corporate Responsibility Cluster potential is not evenly distributed in all sectors, geography or time. Labour intensive sectors like textiles and footwear may see sector wise clusters. However, their current potential is reliant on company’s sense of commercial importance of the ‘ethnic concerns’

Clusters are driven by two dominant factors.

• The ‘legitimacy’ effect: clustering is most likely to arise where the potential is greatest for making social and environmental aspects of the value-chain of tangible concern to stakeholders who count.

• The ‘productivity’ effect: clustering is most likely to arise where the potential is greatest for translating social and environmental enhancements in the value chain into labour and resource efficiency, and productivity gains.

The legitimacy effects, for example, depend to a large extent on the vibrancy of civil society organizations in raising public attention and responsiveness. At any point in time this may be directed at individual companies or sectors. But over time, such vibrancy extends beyond, and indeed is enhanced by the very success of these individual initiatives.

If one carefully analyzes the situation, then it is found that a company can identify the areas of overlap between social and economic value that will most enhance its own and the cluster of competitiveness.

Factor conditions and its utility:

The type of philanthropy depends on the local conditions or factors. High level of productivity depends on the presence of trained workers, high quality scientific and technological institutions, adequate physical infrastructure, transparent and efficient administrative processes (such as company requirements and available resources). All are areas that philanthropy can influence.

Demand conditions:

Demand conditions in a nation or region include the size of the local market, the appropriateness of product standards and the sophistication of the local customers. Now, let’s take an example; an area where the health sector is using sophisticated technologies, there medical device companies are sure to increase. Thus in a Cluster, the company which had good CSR and had been able to use their skills for improving the health sector is not only increasing profitability but also is able to influence the CSR cluster potential.

Context for Strategy and Rivalry:

The rules, incentives and norms governing competition in a nation or region have a fundamental influence on productivity. The policies that encourage investment protect intellectual property, open local markets to trade, break up or prevent the formation of cartels and monopolies. Philanthropy is the reason for strong influence on creating a more productive and transparent environment for competition.

Related Industries:

Whenever, there are industries, which support the main industry, the productivity increases. These are due to the fact that proximity enhances responsiveness, exchange of information and innovation and thus reduces carrying costs and transportation costs.

Now, Philanthropy can foster the development of clusters and thus in turn strengthen the Industries.

Hence, while making policies for Corporate Social Responsibility, one need to understand the link between philanthropy and competitive context which will help the company to identify where they should focus their corporate giving. The ways to find out the best organizations as per the conditions is already discussed above. Here it is better to mention that corporate giving means giving money to other organizations that actually help to deliver the social and environmental benefits. Hence, it is very clear that the impact or the success of the project/program lies in the effectiveness of the recipient. Hence extensive research should be carried out before selecting those recipients that will achieve the Greatest Social Impact.

It’s only then we can together create a more Developed World for us as well for our future generations.

Writer:

Mr. Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/