This note is in response to a question by Dave Grey on the Disaster Management Community discussion list (see
One of the questions posed by Dave Grey was
What are the best methods, tools and technologies available to do so, keeping in mind the rural and remote locations that these children live in? Here is the answer I sent out on that list. This is in no way a complete answer. My intent was only to make a few relevant comments.
Quote from my email
1. Obviously, awareness that disasters can hit any time and its likelihood depends upon a set of variables (like rainfall) is valuable. I have some suggestions in regard to rainfall, particularly in the context of hilly areas in India. Merely educating children in this matter will not do. The country has to create appropriate facilities to disseminate information in a timely manner.
2. Children should be aware of weather news and forecasts coming over the radio, TV, newspapers and the Internet and be encouraged to use this information. Precipitation is a major cause of landfalls. Information of the kind I have mentioned would obviously help anticipate problems, though it would require significant education and training. Such training given to teachers in local schools would help a lot. I give the following two URLs as examples of what information is available. (http://www.weather.nic.in/; http://weather.yahoo.com/forecast/INXX0140.html)
3. Why such forecasts are not widely available in Indian languages needs to be examined.
4. A news report in The Hindu newspaper deals with an exciting and simple solution to the problem: Interactive Voice Response systems giving weather forecasts for selected locations in a region, giving a choice of languages. Read here: http://www.hindu.com/2008/02/09/stories/2008020957070300.htm. With hundreds of millions of cell phones in India, this technique is very attractive.
5. Cell phone coverage in hilly areas does get to be very poor. There is a Universal Services Obligation Fund of the Govt of India to subsidize telecom facilities in relatively remote and sparse population areas. Some of these funds should be utilized to provide dependable connectivity to areas where disaster risks are known to be high. Items 3 to 5 need to be taken up by state governments. Paucity of resources is a not a valid excuse any more.