India is highly vulnerable to a range of natural hazards, particularly earthquakes, flood, drought, cyclone, and landslides. Close to 60% of India’s land mass is prone to earthquakes of varying magnitude and 12% is susceptible to floods and landslides. The Government of India (GoI) has been making efforts in moving from a reactive emergency response to being proactive and implementing disaster preparedness and risk reduction initiatives. However, limited capacity of the stakeholders, including government officials, professionals, and disaster response forces, undermines the coping mechanisms.

For more than a decade, the World Bank has been assisting the GoI in effectively responding to disasters. This is further facilitated by the high level of demand from Indian states and the central government in learning from international experiences and bringing best practice to India. The GFDRR-supported Japan-World Bank Program for Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Management (DRM) in Developing Countries (the Japan-WB Program) is supporting Indian states in augmenting the DRM capacity as part of “Strengthening India DRM Service Delivery” Project.

Under this Technical Assistance, the GFDRR-managed World Bank Disaster Risk Management Hub, Tokyo delivered a six-day emergency preparedness and response training program in collaboration with Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA), Hyogo Prefecture, and Kobe City. The training and knowledge exchange provided opportunities to a delegation of 18 officials from state-level disaster management authorities from Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, and Gujarat to:

  1. Improve search and rescue skills of Indian state-level search and rescue professionals;
  2. Expose Indian state-level search and rescue professionals to and practically train them on the use of advanced equipment; and
  3. Train a set of expected Trainers of Trainers.

This training program commenced on March 21, 2017, at Hyogo Prefectural Emergency Management and Training Center, was a combination of hands-on search and rescue (S&R) drills by Kobe City Fire Department and lectures on Japanese institutional arrangements for emergency preparedness and response by FDMA, Hyogo Prefecture, and Kobe City. The delegation also visited the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial to learn about the recovery efforts and DRM measures implemented in Japan since the 1995 earthquake. Overall, the training provided specialized knowledge to the participants to enhance their operational effectiveness in emergency preparedness and response.

K. Satyanarayana, the Director General of the Andhra Pradesh State Disaster Response and Fire Services, praised the program, saying, "This training was a great learning experience and exposed us to the basic rescue operations. Now we feel capacitated to train the Fire Officers in our department."

The Japan-WB Program aims to continue to strengthen efforts to augment capacity of disaster response forces of India and other developing nations through its Knowledge Program on Learning from the Japanese Experience in Emergency Preparedness and Response (EP&R). This newly-developed Knowledge Program will harness Japanese knowledge and expertise on emergency management to enhance the understanding and practice of effective, high-functioning capacity emergency preparedness and response EP&R systems.