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SAARC Natural Disaster Rapid Response Mechanism

In the Fifteenth SAARC Summit held in Colombo on August 2-3, 2008 the Heads of the States/Governments declared that a Natural Disaster Response Mechanism shall be created under the aegis of the SAARC Disaster Management Center to adopt a coordinated and planned approach to meet such emergencies.

The modalities for implementation of the decision of the decision of thee Summit was discussed in detail in the Third meeting of the Governing Board of the SDMC held in New Delhi on 6-7 November 2009. The Governing Board decided that an Expert Group Meeting comprising of representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defence and National Focal Points on disaster management shall be organized by the SDMC to discuss the detailed modalities for setting up the NDRRM in SDMC.

Two Expert Group Meeting (EGM) were held in New Delhi on 5-6 February 2009 and o 3 July 2009. The EGM considered various models of regional response and recommended that Voluntary Response Model would be best suited in South Asia.

This would be based on the following principles:
  • The sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of the Member Countries shall be respected, in accordance with the Charter of the SAARC. In this context, each affected Country shall have the primary responsibility to respond to disasters occurring within its territory and external assistance from other countries of the region shall be provided only upon the request or with the consent of the affected Country.
  • If the affected Country needs assistance in the event of a disaster emergency within its territory, it may request such assistance from any other Member Country, directly or through the SDMC.
  • Response or relief assistance, civil or military, can only be deployed at the request, and with the consent, of the affected Country.
  • The affected Country shall specify the scope and type of assistance required and, where practicable, provide the assisting Country with such information as may be necessary to determine the extent to which it is able to meet the request.
  • In the event that it is not practicable for the affected Country to specify the scope and type of assistance required, the affected and the assisting Country shall, in consultation, jointly assess and decide upon the scope and type of assistance required.
  • Each Member Country to which a request for assistance is directed shall promptly decide and notify the affected Country, directly or through the SDMC, whether it is in a position to render the assistance requested, and of the scope and terms of such assistance.
  • The affected Country shall exercise the overall direction, control, co-ordination and supervision of the assistance within its territory.
  • Each member country shall, on a voluntary basis, earmark assets and capacities, for regional standby arrangements for disaster response and relief, such as:
    • Emergency response facilities;
    • Search and rescue personnel and equipments;
    • Emergency medical facilities;
    • Emergency stockpiles of disaster relief material;
    • Military and civilian assets;
    • Disaster management expertise and technologies.
  • The Member Countries shall communicate the details of such standby arrangements (as mentioned in the above), to the extent possible, to each other and to the SDMC;
  • The SDMC shall, in consultation with Member Countries, develop strategies and plans in respect of each Country for rapid and efficient response;
  • The SDMC shall in consultation with Member Countries develop Standard Operating Procedures for regional response which would include the following:
    • Regional standby arrangements for disaster relief and emergency response;
    • Utilisation of military and civilian personnel, transportation and communication equipment, facilities, goods and services and to facilitate their trans-boundary movement; and
    • Co-ordination of joint disaster relief and emergency response operations.
  • The SDMC shall periodically organize table top and field exercises to test the effectiveness of regional response mechanism.
  • The SDMC shall facilitate the establishment, maintenance and periodical review of regional standby arrangements for disaster relief and emergency response.
  • The SDMC shall also facilitate periodic review of regional standard operating procedures.

Based on the recommendations of the EGM, the SDMC drafted an agreement on Natural Disaster Rapid Response Mechanism. The draft Agreement was approved in 8th Meeting of SAARC Environment Ministers held in New Delhi on. It is expected that the Agreement shall be signed at the 16th SAARC Summit in Thimpu in April 2009.
Agreement on NDRRM
Proceedings of Study Visit and Policy Level Workshop
Weekly Disaster Updates
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