The Thiruvananthapuram leg of ‘America with Kerala: Uniting for a Disaster Resilient Kerala,’ organized by the US Consulate General in Chennai and the Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), Kochi, in association with the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority, concluded on Wednesday. 

K. T. Jaleel, Kerala’s Minister for Higher Education, inaugurated the workshop on June 24.  The workshop is part of the “America with Kerala” initiative focused on sharing the U.S. and Indian experiences and expertise related to disaster management and community resilience.

On the sidelines of the workshop, the U.S. Consulate General in Chennai, CPPR, and the Institute of Parliamentary Affairs, Thiruvananthapuram, hosted a roundtable on “Building Resilience to Natural Hazards Through Stakeholder Engagement,” moderated by Dimpi V. Divakaran, Director General of the Insitute of Parliamentary Affairs. 

Angamaly Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Roji M. John; Aruvikkara MLA Sabarinadhan K. S.; Kozhikode South MLA M. K. Muneer; Thrithala MLA V.T Balram; Palakkad MLA Shafi Parambil; Perumbavoor MLA Eldhose Kunnappilly; and Aluva MLA Anwar Sadath participated in the roundtable and shared their suggestions.

Lauren Lovelace, Consul for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy, U.S. Consulate General in Chennai, and Dr. Himanshu Grover, Co-Director of the Institute for Hazard Mitigation and Planning at the University of Washington led the discussion.  Lovelace noted, “The people of Kerala have impressively bounced back after the 2018 floods.  Through this workshop, the United States and Kerala are learning together about disaster management.” 

Former Indian diplomat T. P. Sreenivasan was also present at the roundtable that had participation from Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Federation of Malayalee Associations of Americas (FOMAA), local councilors, and college lecturers. The roundtable panel stressed on the role of local governance and community-led initiatives in disaster resilience.

The three-day workshop brought together 120 participants that included policy makers, bureaucrats, first responders, emergency management officials, health officials, civic communities, media personnel, and private stake holders.  Experts from Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA), Institute of Land and Disaster Management (ILDM), Cochin Smart Mission Limited, and Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, addressed the participants on topics including the role of civil society in responding to floods, medical preparedness, relief and rehabilitation, gender concerns, and resilience.

The next phases of “America with Kerala” are scheduled for July 23-25 in Kochi and August 26-28 in Kozhikode.

By Manoj

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