Guide for disaster resilience for religious communities

Auckland deputy mayor Desley Simpson launched “Resilient Religious Community: A Guide to Disaster Resilience” at the Auckland Town Hall on July 27 – exactly six months after the flooding disasters, and the damage caused the following month by Cyclone Gabrielle.

Desley Simpson speaks at the launch of the religious communities’ disaster resilience guide.

The Religious Diversity Centre (RDC) developed this guide in cooperation with Auckland Emergency Management (AEM). A series of hui for consultation with religious communities was held in different areas of the city, as part of the research and community engagement. The guide has been developed for religious leaders and their volunteers to enhance their response to emergencies – from planning through to recovery.

Ms Simpson thanked the religious communities for their contributions during the January floods. She mentioned that the month of January had seen more than 45 per cent of the usual yearly rainfall in Auckland. In these extreme circumstances, the religious communities organised the coordination and distribution of supplies, offered food and emotional support. The places of worship and their communities had shown a true partnership approach, and had been proactive in coping with the disasters.

Councillor Sharon Stewart (Auckland Civil Defence Emergency Management Committee Chair) affirmed the praise for the religious communities, and honoured several groups for their outstanding contributions to the community-led response to severe weather events this year.

Prof Paul Morris (RDC) and Rohan Jaduram (AEM) led this research project, and put together the Guide to Disaster Resilience. They engaged with more than 30 communities across the city.

The three goals of the Guide to Disaster Resilience are:
1. Raise awareness around hazards, risks and disaster preparedness.
2. Build disaster resilience capacity and capability.
3. Develop strong social connectedness to support community-led response.

Professor Morris introduced the unique guide, which was useful and practical – encouraging and supporting religious communities to work together before, during and after an emergency or a disaster occurs.

Mr Jaduram recalled the six-months anniversary of the January floods in Auckland that caused six deaths, and impacted thousands of people. He acknowledged the community-led response: when a disaster hits, AEM will always need support from the community.

Jocelyn Armstrong, co-chair of the Religious Diversity Centre Trust, thanked Mr Jaduram and Professor Morris (an RDC Trustee) for their leadership in this joint project. The RDC looks forward to continuing to work together with the Auckland Emergency Management, as further events are organised and a Resilient Religious Communities Network is developed, community-led and agency-supported.


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Beate Matthies

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