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February 22, 2016

JICA holds seminar on "Institutionalizing the Culture of Disaster Risk Management: Introduction of Training Method and Japan's Experiences"

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) organized a seminar on "Institutionalizing the Culture of Disaster Risk Management: Introduction of a Training Method and Japan's Experiences" on January 25th, 2016 at the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel. Prior to the seminar, JICA conducted a Disaster Imagination Game (DIG), one of the table top exercise methods, to the Disaster Management Center (DMC) officials on 22nd January at the Emergency Operation Center in DMC.

JICA conducted an ‘After Action Review' and a chronological analysis on the Koslanda Landslide which occurred in October, 2014 based on the interview and field surveys. Throughout the survey, JICA together with the DMC and the National Building Research Organization (NBRO) identified some gaps and learnt lessons for further enhancing the capacity on Disaster Risk Management. Although the Government of Sri Lanka has developed the Standard Operational Procedures (SOP) and currently preparing the National Emergency Operation Plan, JICA found out that these actions were not prepared in detail like in Japan and the U.S., hence, it is difficult for the emergency responders to have standardized actions for each disaster.

In order to develop a common understanding towards the emergency operations and to prepare for the disasters, JICA conducted a ‘Disaster Imagination Game (DIG)' to identify the necessary detailed actions at the time of disaster at DMC as a pilot case.

After the Massive Flood and Landslide in 2003 and the Great Indian Ocean Tsunami in December, in 2004, the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) started to establish special agencies for Disaster Risk Management such as DMC and the Ministry of Disaster Management. Further, the Disaster Management Plan was enacted in 2005. Though the dawn of Disaster Risk Management (DRM) in Sri Lanka was rather late than the other Asian countries, the GoSL achieved the establishment of the institutional and legal framework on DRM with a rapid pace.

Usually this kind of a framework need to be developed by conducting exercises and drills for better emergency management and human resources with specialized knowledge and techniques need to be developed for continuous improvement. However, it is quite evident that DMC conducted table top exercises and simulation exercises in seldom. Under such circumstances, JICA hold consecutive discussions with DMC and decided to conduct DIG.

During the DIG exercise, it was obvious that not all the staff perceives the single event/incident in a same manner and that there are different opinions among the participants for some actions. The Director, Emergency Operation Center of DMC, Commodore Liyanage said "this is very first time to experience this kind of Table Top Exercise and it really became an eye opener for DMC". Though DMC prepared the SOPs and currently preparing the NEOP, most of the staff corresponds to the incident based on their past personal experiences and the actions taken by each of them, therefore becomes different. This kind of exercise will enable the participants and DMC to review the existing systems and reflect the findings for improvement."

During the seminar held on January 25th, the JICA consultants reviewed the findings of the pilot DIG exercise for future conduction of similar exercises and required points for further improvement in their systems. Thereafter, Dr. Satoru NISHIKAWA, Executive Director of Research at Japan Center for Area Development Research made a special presentation on "how Japan achieved institutionalizing the culture of Disaster Risk Management". His presentation covers the long history of Natural Disasters in Japan and government responses to the disasters. There were three major epochs which dramatically change the notion of DRM in Japan. In addition, the Japanese Government conducted surveys and tried to identify the lessons from each incident, even from a minor one so that the lessons learned can be passed down to the next generations for the prevention of future disasters.

Until 2009, Sri Lanka struggled with an internal conflict, which lasted nearly for three decades. During the conflict period, disaster risk management was not a highly prioritized task in the country. However with the economic development in this post-conflict period, main streaming disaster risk reduction is substantial to achieve stable economic development. We sincerely hope that Japan can collaborate to create a culture of Disaster Risk Management system in Sri Lanka by utilizing the Japanese and International knowledge and experiences. Further, we wish the Japanese Kaizen (continuous improvement) principal will foster the betterment of Sri Lankan Disaster Risk Management System to achieve sustainable development.

PhotoOpening Address by the secretary, Ministry of Disaster Management, Mr. S.S. Miyanawala

PhotoMs. Kitazawa from the Pacific Consultants Co., Ltd. briefly explained the provided exercise


PhotoDirector, Emergency Operation Center of Disaster Management Center, Commodore Liyanage reviewed the DIG exercise conducted on 22nd January, 2016

PhotoMr. Hasegawa from the Pacific Consultants Co., Ltd. debriefed on lessons and required points for improvement, which is confirmed by the DIG exercise


PhotoDr. Nishikawa, Executive Director of Research from the Japan Center for Regional Development Research gave presentation on how japan institutionalized the culture of disaster risk reduction

PhotoParticipants actively raised many questions

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