States share success stories at Aapda Mitra workshop in Guwahati
Assam minister Jogen Mohan, officials and participants at the workshop in Guwahati on Thursday

Guwahati: Representatives of 31 states and Union Territories presented their best practices, and challenges and shared their success stories during a workshop on the “Mid-term review and documentation of best practices of the Aapda Mitra scheme” that got underway here on Thursday.

Organised by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), in collaboration with the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), the two-day workshop aims to provide an opportunity for the project states/Union Territories to share their experiences, challenges in the implementation of the scheme and identify the gaps to make the mid-course correction for proper implementation of the scheme.

The inaugural ceremony of the workshop was organised in the presence of Assam revenue and disaster management minister Jogen Mohan.

At the inaugural ceremony, the theme song for Aapda Mitra was launched followed by three sessions categorised as North Eastern/Hilly States/UTs, Plain States/UTs and Coastal States/UTs, wherein the participating states under each category presented their best practices, challenges and success stories.

Assam minister Jogen Mohan, officials and participants at the workshop in Guwahati on Thursday

Notably, NDMA is implementing a pilot project, “Aapda Mitra,” in 25 states/UTs, covering 30 districts, and targeting a pool of 6,000 community volunteers.

Based on the feedback from the states/UTs and the ‘Vision 2024’ of the Centre, the NDMA, ministry of home affairs, is up-scaling the “Aapda Mitra Scheme” in order to train one lakh volunteers across 350 districts that are prone to landslides, cyclones, earthquakes and floods.

The scheme, which will be operational by March 31, 2023, aims to train volunteers with skills to respond to their communities’ immediate needs in the aftermath of a disaster.

Among other officials at the workshop include NDMA member Rajendra Singh; Assam additional chief secretary A.K. Bhutani; additional chief secretary Biswaranjan Samal; NDMA financial advisor Ravinesh Kumar; NDMA joint secretary Kunal Satyarthi; ASDMA chief executive officer Gyanendra. D. Tripathi and other dignitaries from the state authority and representatives from State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMA) of the country.

Apart from Assam, the participating states include West Bengal, Nagaland, Uttar Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jammu & Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya, Puducherry, Karnataka, Chandigarh, Andaman and Nicobar, Kerala, Punjab, Goa, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Ladakh, New Delhi, Haryana, Daman and Diu and Bihar.

Being at the forefront, communities need to be capacitated to respond to threats themselves. Accordingly, in the 7th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) in November 2016, the Prime Minister proposed a 10-point agenda for disaster risk reduction that covered issues, tools and approaches to address the critical challenges in achieving sustainable development objectives, focusing on local ‘disaster management system’, academic capacity strengthening and harnessing technological advances.

Following this ‘Aapda Mitra Scheme’ was launched to introduce the concept of a ‘Local Disaster Management System’ within the community. 

The impact of trained volunteers in disaster response can be tremendous, as the extent of damage- in terms of economic and human loss is greatly influenced by the initial response to a disaster.

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