By Dizery Salim
Geneva, 28 December 2011 – When a city joins the “Making Cities Resilient” campaign, the media gets very active, explained Piyush Ranjan Rout, co-founder and Executive Director of the Local Governments Network, a non-government organization in Bhubaneswar, India.
“They see that a city has joined the campaign and begin asking, ‘But what are they doing?’ Some way or other, it creates a force for accountability.”
Bhubaneswar joined the UNISDR-led campaign last year. A city in Orissa state, India, it has moved from one extreme weather condition to another: in 1999, a super cyclone hit the city reducing it to a ghost city; in 1988, heat waves took hundreds of lives and floods reduced the city to disaster.
In May 2010, the city government won a Certificate of Distinction from the United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction for becoming a hub of industry, education and tourism despite its hardships.
Citizens are risk-aware and engage in mock drills and the city currently hosts state-supported institutions like the Orissa State Disaster Management Authority and the Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force.
“People came to know that good things happen in the city. It’s a kind of brand or media intervention,” said Mr. Rout. “Very often you hear about Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. But for small cities, this campaign is one way to get an identity.”
Mr. Rout advises other cities to join “as quickly as possible.”
“When you make a campaign commitment, definitely you’ll become serious to do something. And cities get more recognition.”