India to host the First South Asian Annual Disaster Management Exercise from Monday November 21, 2015

The prevalent geo-climatic conditions as well as increased frequency of natural calamities in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Region, especially in the wake of the recent disasters in the region, calls for enhanced levels of preparedness and risk resilience as well as collaborative action amongst member countries to individually and jointly deal with such disaster situations to prevent loss of lives and assets. Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi stated at the last (18th) SAARC Summit in Kathmandu on November 26, 2014 that India’s expertise in Disaster Management would always be available to South Asia, and that, equally, as India reaches out to Indians caught in conflicts and disasters around the world, India would always be there for all South Asian citizens.

The Government of India has taken the initiative to organize the first “South Asian Annual Disaster Management Exercise” (SAADMEx-2015) to provide a platform for strengthening Regional Disaster Response Mechanism amongst the SAARC countries. The main focus of SAADMEx-2015 is to test coordination efforts, create synergy and synchronize efforts to institutionalize Regional Cooperation on Disaster Response among the member countries. The Advance Coordination Conference (ACC) for this Exercise was successfully conducted with the participation of representatives from SAARC member countries on September 3-4, 2015 where the modalities and requirements of the common exercise were discussed.

The common exercise is going to commence from Monday, November 23, 2015 with the participation of delegations and rescuers from each of the eight SAARC Nations, – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The Exercise will be conducted by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in Delhi – National Capital Region. On the first day, during the Table Top sessions, different kinds of disaster situations will be simulated and individual and joint response measures will get discussed. On the second day, response for Collapsed Structure Search and Rescue (CSSR) will be carried out at Ghaziabad to demonstrate the CSSR capabilities of participating nations which will be followed by a demonstration on Chemical Emergency Response at Greater Noida on the third day. During the course of the exercise, various types of latest gadgets and equipments as well as varied Disaster Response skill sets will be demonstrated by the teams of the participating nations. On the last day, debriefing and After Action Review (AAR) will be conducted to gather important lessons learnt which would assist the countries to augment current and joint levels of disaster response and coordination.

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Shri Kiren Rijiju will inaugurated the SAADMEx-2015 in New Delhi on Monday, November 23, 2015. Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh will be the Chief Guest in the valedictory session on Thursday, November 26, 2015 to discuss the outcomes of the exercise and provide guidance for future improvement. Secretary General-SAARC, representatives from Embassies/High Commissions of SAARC Nations in Delhi, Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), NDRF, National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) and Senior Officials from the relevant Ministries will be attending the Exercise. Officials from the States, particularly from State Response organizations will be attending the SAADMEx as well.

The Joint Exercise will be followed by a day-long SAARC Regional Workshop on Sharing Best Practices on “Disaster Risk Reduction” due to be held in New Delhi on Friday, November 27, 2015. The Regional Workshop will be inaugurated by Dr. P.K. Mishra, Additional Principal Secretary to Prime Minister of India. This workshop is also an outcome of one of the announcements made at the Conference of Cabinet Secretaries of SAARC Nations.

The aim of the Regional workshop is to provide a platform to member countries for sharing best practices in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), experience sharing on Nepal Earthquake of April, 2015 as well as deliberating upon the outcomes of the SAADMEx. The workshop will have senior officials from all SAARC Nations, relevant Ministries of Government of India and various State Governments.