Day Two of 7th Khoryug Conference
7th Khoryug Conference, Day Two
March 22, 2016
Vajra Vidya Institute
The first step in disaster management is understanding your hazards and identifying your risks. During the second day of the Khoryug conference, participants consequently focused on deepening their knowledge of the hazards they face and learning how to identify the vulnerabilities that put them at risk for disaster.
To achieve this aim delegates spent the morning learning about the science of natural disasters from Dekila Chungyalpa, the Khoryug adviser, who explained how phenomena like plate tectonics, forestation, and the water and carbon cycle shape and spur disastrous events like earthquakes, floods and landslides. She further explained how climate change is resulting from human development and in turn exacerbating the severity and frequency of natural disasters, particularly in the Himalayan region.
Professor Bandyopadhyay from the National Institute of Disaster Management then led the conference in both a presentation and group activity on risk assessment in monasteries and nunneries. After offering the conceptual framework for assessing risk, Professor Bandyopadhyay organized delegates into a scavenger hunt to search for vulnerabilities and risks present in various locations around Vajra Vidya Institute. The activity allowed participants to identify typical disaster risks that are found in most monasteries and nunneries ranging from exposed wiring and poor ventilation in a butter lamp house to the lack of emergency exits and training on how to use a fire extinguisher in a hostel.
In the afternoon delegates worked with Lhakpa Tsering and Damaris Miller to brainstorm the particular disaster risks in their area and to imagine an actual disaster scenario. Delegates were presented with two educational guides that Khoryug has produced on disaster management, including a poster with short tips and guidelines for management of earthquakes, floods and fires as well as a booklet with more extensive information. Both materials are available in English and Tibetan and delegates drew on their own experience to provide feedback for improving the documents for wider distribution.
Dekila Chungyalpa and Mr. Rakesh Singh closed out the day by transitioning the group into developing action plans. Dekila shared a presentation on mitigation measures that monasteries and nunneries can take to reduce their vulnerability in the case of a disaster. She demonstrated how many of the environmental projects monasteries and nunneries have already undertaken double as mitigation measures, such as solar energy, organic gardening and rainwater collection and lauded monasteries that are adopting green design strategies into new constructions.
Mr. Rakesh Kumar finished the session by clearly laying out a framework for creating a disaster management plan that encompasses crucial elements like mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery and capacity building. Participants will spend the next two days receiving hands-on training and creating their own disaster management plans. Reflecting on the conference thus far one delegate noted, “We used to feel helpless when we thought about natural disasters but knowing now that there are things we can do to protect ourselves makes me feel more confident.”