Save the Children Bhutan’s national director signed an agreement with five partners to implement the Comprehensive Disaster Management Project for Bhutan (CDMPB) during the inception meeting at the Le Meridian in Thimphu yesterday.

CDMPB is the fourth round of project supported by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO) and Save the Children Norway, through Save the Children Bhutan office.

The project with a budget of Euro 575,000 have five partners – Ministry of Education, Department of Disaster Management, Paro Dzongkhag, Thimphu Thromde, and the Royal Education Council.

Save the Children Bhutan’s national director, M B Ghaley, said that enhancing response capacity will be the focus for the project.  “Not just be aware of the disasters but also to be prepared with the real hands on skills, equipment and knowledge.”

One of the major ‘deliverables’ in the next round is related to preparation of the Thimphu city disaster management and contingency plan, which is a big task, the director added.

“Even with the preparedness sensitisation we have until now, we still don’t know t what we really need to do should a disaster actually strike in Thimphu,” the director said. “Currently, we don’t know where is the safe place to gather if communication network or road network falls apart when there is a disaster in the city. I hope by the end of this project, we will be clear on this.”

Endorsing the Thimphu thromde disaster management plan is one of the aims of the project.

Education secretary, Karma Yeshey, said that disaster management is important in the Himalayan regions, as the region is most prone to disaster like earthquake. “It is a good plan because Thimphu being one of the city with more population and structures in the country has more risk of damage if there is disaster.”

An 18-month project aims to further institutionalise the education ministry’s disaster management and contingency plan at the district level, enhance quality performance monitoring for DRR and preparedness at school level, access to interactive DRR teaching-learning materials and EIE (Engineering is Elementary) tools to further facilitate implementation of the teacher handbook in schools and to enhance inclusion of DRR in national school curriculum.

The project also aims to strengthen disaster preparedness and response capacities in schools, including ECCD (Early Childhood Care Development), SEN (Special Educational Needs), and monastic schools.

Project manager with the Save the Children, Karma Doma Tshering, said that since 2011 the projects have been geared towards strengthening disaster management systems and capacities at national and district levels, especially in the education sector.

The project supported the development of various school-based disaster management       training manuals, guides, handbook and teaching and learning materials, and training of district education officers, district disaster management committee, planning team members, school principals, and disaster focal teachers

Besides the achievements in the third round of the project, the representatives from the implementing partner agencies presented their respective key ‘deliverables’ for the fourth round.

“We in Save the Children are happy that we are able to contribute to the government’s efforts in making Bhutan safer for children and better prepared to response to future disasters,” M B Ghaley said.

Dechen Tshomo