Five Odisha towns to come under UNDP’s disaster resilience plan

Bhubaneswar: Five urban settlements of Odisha will come under enhanced resilience cover to ensure the safety of urbanites from nature’s fury. In the wake of large scale devastation to life and property wrought about by cyclone ‘Fani’ in May 3 this year, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has put forward a proposal with Odisha government to upgrade the disaster resilience mechanism in five townships of the State.

The UNDP has handpicked five urban centres- Khurda, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Berhampur and Paradip- which are being frequently exposed to vagaries of natural disasters like cyclone and flood. The global body has evinced keen interest for implementation of a project for invigorating the infrastructures of these townships to meet with the exigencies and safeguard life and property, said senior officials of revenue and disaster management department.

The focus area of the proposed project that is likely to be implemented in joint coordination of UNDP and Odisha government will be through enhanced risk sensitive planning facilitated through disaster risk assessments. The project also intends to facilitate better preparedness plans and capacity building of local government and communities.

It’s pertinent to note here that the ‘very very severe cyclone’ Fani tha barreled through Odisha on May 3 had brought in its wake trails of devastation leaving 64 dead, affecting about 16.5 million people in and over 18388 villages in 14 of the 30 districts,

In the post-cyclone rehabilitation and restoration programme to rebuild the cyclone-ravaged areas, UNDP has lent helping hands to the State government for expeditious rebuilding process, the officials said.

Odisha is exceedingly susceptible to disasters because of its geographic location and socio-economic condition.

The coastal State incidentally is bracketed as one of the six most cyclone-prone areas in the world and frequency of cyclone landfall is quite pronounced in the State.

The State has encountered cyclones of severe magnitude in past two decades right from 1999 super cyclone, Phailin 2013, Hudhud 2014, Titli 2018 to Fani 2019.

The State is also vulnerable to recurring flood with deluge emerging as an annual ritual in majority of 30 districts. Out of a total geographical area of 15,571 lakh hectares, 1.40 lakh hectares are exposed to floods’ fury.

The UNDP has also suggested carrying out of safety audit of some critical public infrastructure especially schools and hospitals, involve itself in sectoral plans for key sectors such as water, infrastructure, environment, housing and sewage treatment and preparation of Hazard Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (HRVA) at city level through an interactive and participatory process, officials added.

Since communities are the primary responders during disasters, approximately 250 volunteers in five towns will be trained on survival techniques like search and rescue, first aid and crowd management. As many as 100 engineers, architects, construction artisans and contractors will be skilled to respond to disasters and support mitigation activities.