Friday May 10, 2013

Business has a role to play in DRR

Islamic Relief UK Director Jehangir Malik participated in the eighth World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) held in Johor Bahru in Malaysia.

WIEF is a business event bringing together people across the globe, showcasing business opportunities in the Muslim world, and running programmes that strengthen partnership and knowledge exchange between Muslim and non-Muslim communities.

Jehangir provided an international perspective on the topic; ‘The Role of the Private Sector in Disaster Management and Mitigation’ along with two other speakers: Dr Jemilah Mahmood, founder of MERCY Malaysia; and Professor Chhetri, President of the Nepal Centre for Disaster Management.

Jehangir started his talk by highlighting the critical role disaster risk reduction (DRR) plays in saving lives, as examined in the recent Islamic Relief report ‘Feeling the Heat’. He pointed out the dramatic differences in the vulnerability of rich and poor communities, comparing the experience of San Francisco, a relatively prosperous city where 69 people died in the earthquake of 1989, with the catastrophe in Haiti in 2010, when an earthquake of similar intensity killed 316,000 people.

He talked about Islamic Relief’s key projects in relation to DRR, particularly in Bangladesh, where it has raised homes on plinths, conducted community training on survival techniques, developed an advocacy campaign to ensure earthquake-resilient construction, and formed disaster management committees, volunteer networks and other community-based organisations.

While NGOs such as Islamic Relief are already hard at work delivering DRR projects, he appealed to the audience over the potential role businesses can play to strengthen DRR work – beyond funding – by providing technical skills and expertise. “The private sector could contribute to enhance NGOs’ work: not only through awareness-raising within this community work, but also by contributing to the more technical side of our programmes, using skills and resources to add real value” said Jehangir Malik.” He suggested that the media, for example, could contribute to the collection and dissemination of information to educate people about the hazards and risks they face, and the measures they can take to mitigate and prepare for potential disasters.

Jehangir’s contribution is part of a range of Islamic Relief advocacy interventions designed to raise awareness about the critical role of DRR, which started with ‘Feeling the Heat’ in September 2012. Since then, IR has held a panel discussion with the World Development Movement and University of Birmingham, conducted training and shared best practice with Islamic Relief DRR staff from across the gobe, and continued to deliver numerous DRR projects in its field work.

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