New Delhi. 23 November, 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.

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, has called for strengthening institutional systems to strengthen the Disaster Response mechanism amongst the South Asian countries. Inaugurating the first “South Asian Annual Disaster Management Exercise” (SAADMEx) – 2015 , Rijiju called upon the eight member nations of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to accord high priority and develop better concept of Disaster Management.

India has taken the lead role in the region by hosting the first SAADMEx, primarily because India is the biggest nation in this region and also because a lot has been done by it in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the last 16 months. Pointing out that South Asia is the most disaster prone region in the world and that we may face disasters more frequently in the days to come, Rijiju said that we have to create awareness in the minds of the people and empower them since they would be the ones who are going to face it. He added that we are taking DRR seriously, but we have much more to do and work out a proper laid down objective for ourselves on how to be better prepared to face disasters.

O P Singh, Director General, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), while welcoming the delegates, said that conducting this kind of Disaster Management Exercise among SAARC nations on annual basis is need of the time to develop better mechanism for tackling disasters and also minimize the impact. He also added that disaster response simulation exercise is the test of preparedness of response mechanism of the state.

Dr. Ajay M. Gondane, Additional Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), also addressed the delegates during inaugural session. Addressing the inaugural session Arjun Bahadur Thapa, Secretary General, SAARC said that formulation of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and organizing disaster management exercise were decided during the Jakarta Disaster Management Summit. Addressing the gathering, Member Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA),R.K. Jain said today is beginning of the process of DRR in form of SAADMEx as per the vision of our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.

Representatives from Embassies/High Commission of SAARC Nations in Delhi and Senior level Officials from concerned Ministries attended the inaugural session.

After the inaugural session, a Table Top Exercise was conducted by NDRF. The purpose of the Exercise was to provide participants with an opportunity to review and discuss disaster response plans & capabilities of an affected country by both national authorities and SAARC region countries.

The SAADMEx will continue till November 26, 2015. On November 24, 2015 Joint Field Training Exercise on Collapsed Structure Search & Rescue (CSSR) will be conducted at NTH Complex, Kamla Nehru Nagar, Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh). Further, on November 25, 2015, Joint Field Training Exercise on Chemical Emergency will be conducted at Greater Noida (U.P.). The four-day long SAADMEx-2015 is being organized jointly by NDMA, NIDM, NDRF and MHA. Delegations and rescuers from each of the eight SAARC nations- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Srilanka are participating in SAADMEx-2015.

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 has commenced 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 have been simulated and individual and joint response measures were 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.