With dzongs vulnerable to disasters especially fire hazards, the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) has begun sensitising monastic institutions on risk reduction, mitigation and to make them aware of the risk to disasters.

At a sensitising programme on November 14 in Thimphu, senior programme officer with DDM, Sangay Dawa said that the main objective of the training was to create awareness about disasters. “Dzongs are vulnerable, especially to fire hazards as structures are really old, and it houses sacred relics. We cannot afford to lose these precious relics in a disaster.”

He said that the session includes awareness on prevailing hazards in the country, vulnerability, and identifying participants’ capacities to respond to disasters.  “During the training, participants would know about how to prepare, respond to, and to mitigate disaster-related issues.”

Programme officer of DDM, Jabchu said that the number one hazardous cause of disasters is earthquake in the country. “Even if we cannot prevent disasters, we need to prepare to reduce the affects of disasters.”

Some safety measures for an earthquake include identifying a safe area for evacuation, preparing first aid, portable emergency food and other necessary items, and identifying items that could fall or collide.

At the end of the training, participants would come up with a plan to combat disasters. Based on the plan, an action plan would be prepared covering three phases of a disaster – before, during, and after disaster.

Sangay Dawa said that plans would however differ from place to place based on the kind of disaster. “With the plan, people would know their roles and responsibilities such as what measures to take and how to evacuate safely and to where. They would know when to do what.”

Rinzin, a participant said that they did not have any plan for disasters and acted according to what they felt necessary at the time.

The need was felt to create awareness on monastic institutions, after Wangdue Dzong was damaged in a fire in 2012.

DDM will conduct the next training in Trashigang dzongkhag.

Sangay Dawa said that once people are aware, suggestions and feedback from them would be considered and DDM would come up with another programme.

Save the Children funded the training.

Rinchen Zangmo