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Indian religious groups meet to prepare for catastrophes

Faith groups met to collaborate on disaster management strategies

Indian religious groups meet to prepare for catastrophes

Indian schoolgirls are treated at a government hospital after a gas leak from a nearby container depot in New Delhi on May 6. Faith groups met former government officials from the Disaster Management Authority in New Delhi on May 16 to discuss disaster preparedness and management. (Photo by Chandan Khanna/AFP)

May 18, 2017

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Caritas India brought together faith-based organizations active in disaster management to create a network to help India become more resilient when catastrophe strikes.

Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Buddhist organizations participated in the May 16 meeting in New Delhi along with former government officials from the Disaster Management Authority.

"It is time not only to be change-makers but also make others into change-makers," said Swamini Adityanand Saraswati from the Global Interfaith Wash Alliance while addressing the meeting.

They decided to create an alliance of groups and communities working on disaster preparedness and management and invited anyone willing to acquire competence in the field to join.

They also agreed to create a national humanitarian database to tell stories of those who have risen to the occasion when disaster struck.

Building the resilience of communities must be our overarching priority, said Vinod Menon, a senior official at the Disaster Management Authority.

Father Paul Moonjely of Caritas India said the network would build community resilience, create public awareness, conduct mock exercises and do joint assessments and programs during disasters.

It was probably the first inter-religious meeting on disaster management ever and took remarkable steps to create nationwide resilience, said Anil Sinha, vice chairman of the Bihar Disaster Management Authority.

A number of organizations made presentations including: Caritas India, Catholic Relief Service (CRS), Church's Auxiliary Social  Action (CASA), World Vision India and Islamic Relief, Muslim Aid, Brahm Kumaris, Global Interfaith Wash Alliance , Vedic University and Mata Amritmayi Foundation.

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