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The workshop on "Social Inclusion in Disaster Risk Reduction in the Himalayan Region - Sharing Knowledge and Bridging Gaps" Nepal

Sixty key disaster management practitioners from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan met from May 9 to 11, 2007, in Kathmandu during a workshop organized by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) to share knowledge and experiences on "Social Inclusion in Disaster Risk Reduction in the Himalayan Region."

This ICIMOD initiative supported by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department (DG ECHO) is of great importance also for technical oriented practitioners working in the field of space activities.

The practitioners have stressed that disaster risk reduction requires a holistic approach that combines both technical and social aspects. A better understanding of the linkages between local knowledge and disaster preparedness can help implementing organizations to promote livelihood security and build resilient communities.

More data and new technology solely will not contribute to reduce the rise of natural hazard risks and vulnerability. The use of satellite data and space technology in disaster preparedness need to be combined with a better understanding and integration of ground data both technical as well as social for disaster risk reduction.
A range of invisible social relations (including inequalities) that cannot be captured by satellites plays a crucial role in the acceptance, sustainability and effectiveness of disaster management activities. The understanding of most physical and meteorological processes might be improved from space by earth observing systems, but social dimensions are only observable on the ground. Some initiatives exist that try to combine local early warning system with technical scientific knowledge for improved disaster preparedness. In other cases, technical data related to weather forecast, if tailored to the community needs, can improve community decision making for disaster preparedness. For example, the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation's has trained women from fisher communities in South India to use internet to download weather data. Women are using this information to decide whether or not it is safe to go out to the sea for fishing.

The proceedings of the workshop will be shortly posted on the website (www.disasterpreparedness.icimod.org).

For further information, please contact Dr. Mats Eriksson (meriksson@icimod.org), Water, Hazards and Environmental Management, ICIMOD.

Thanks to Dr. Mats Eriksson because he gave us this article and comments to share his knowledge and experiences on social inclusion in disaster risk reduction in the Himalayan region.

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