High-Level Experts Converge in Rishikesh for Life-Saving Meeting

High-Level Experts Converge in Rishikesh for Life-Saving Meeting

Experts and professionals representing many of India’s foremost disaster response organizations held a focused, closed-door roundtable at Parmarth Niketan today to chalk out the course for protecting the populations of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi from disaster.

India is one of the world’s most disaster prone nations, with millions impacted in 2017. The three states represented today, with a combined population of 23.3 crore people, face their own unique threats, including earthquake, flood, and drought.

The meeting, hosted by Sphere India and the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA), brought together distinguished representatives from Plan International, Save the Children, WaterAid, the Uttarakhand Interagency Group, CASA and many others.

Said Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Founder/Chair, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, “Our togetherness is what is key in these dramatically changing times. For this, we must put Logo (people) ahead of our individual logos and egos and raise up the world so that all may take action together and recover together in times of crisis.”

“We must also do all we can to prevent disasters from taking lives and one of the easiest ways of doing so is by planting trees. They form protective walls that prevent entire populations from being swept away by floods. In addition, just two trees provide enough oxygen for an entire family for a full year while also returning lakhs litres of water into the air through their leaves. Planting trees means planting a secure future. This is something we all can do and we all must do, starting today.”

During the meeting, the delegates discussed pressing issues towards saving lives, focusing on how to best interlink agencies and programmes in order to strengthen life-saving efforts.

Among the subjects discussed were the emergence of the Interfaith Humanitarian Network, which, under the guidance and inspiration of Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, will be bringing together the faiths of the world to enable the globe’s first combined responses to disaster.

Said Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Secretary General, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA), “In addition to uniting our hands, our hearts, our efforts and experience in managing disasters once they happen, we must also harness our collective influence and impact to help prevent and mitigate the increasingly frequent and deadly disasters that are ravaging our planet, in many cases a result of our own actions and decisions. Our collective organizations have the network of influence to affect not only how we work post-disaster but how we live and act in prevention of disaster.”

Said Sunita Mukherjee, retired IAS and former UNFPA Country Director to five nations, “I know from my decades of experience across the world, that interfaith works. I am proud to see this historic convergence at Parmarth Niketan.”

Said Vikrant Mahajan, Executive Director, Sphere India, “Faith leads and faith agencies have been and can be the biggest agents for change. They bring hope.”

The Interfaith Humanitarian Network will officially launch later this year during a major summit of faith leaders and disaster sector luminaries.

Said Puneet Shrivastava, WaterAid Manager of Policy, “From our relationship with GIWA, we found that WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) also has to do with peace. The association with GIWA helps us to understand the bigger humanitarian approach. We are working together to relieve people from conflict, sorrow, for a more peaceful and safe world.”

Said Swamini Adityananda Saraswati​, Director of Programmes and Development, GIWA, “Now is the time, while our nation is at peace, for our strengths to grow and combine so that, through the power of togetherness and the power of faith, we can ensure the brightest of futures for all.”

Attending the Meeting Were:

  • HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President, Parmarth Niketan and Founder/Chair, Global Interfaith Alliance
  • Vikrant Mahajan​, CEO, Sphere India
  • Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati​ji, Secretary General, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance​
  • Suneeta Mukherjee, IAS, Former UNFPA Country Director in Five Nations
  • Puneet Srinavastava, Policy Manager, WaterAid
  • Abhishek Parsai, Programme Manager, Plan India
  • Pradeep Kumar, Project Officer, Save the Children
  • Swamini Adityananda Saraswati, Director of Programmes, Partnerships and Development, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance
  • Dr. Anil Jaggi, Head, SFID, Dehradun
  • Saikhom Kennedy, Humanitarian Coordinator, Sphere India
  • Saket Mani Trivedi, Secretary General, Khushi Centre for Rehabilitation and Research
  • And many others