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For Disaster Management:

Space Technology applications can be beneficial - Minister

Address by Chief Guest Disaster Management and Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe at the inauguration of the Fifth Sentinel Asia System Operation training program jointly organized by JAXA and DMC.

Participants from 12 countries in the region and Sri Lanka participated in the program.

Minister Samarasinghe said. Applications of Space Technology can be used to prevent and mitigate risks of disasters, to improve quality of life and to bring about a better future for the future generations. Disaster Management is an area where the applications of Space Technology can be of great help.

“The world today is living with more risks and uncertainties than ever before. With climate variability, deteriorating environment, ever-increasing population and increased frequency of sudden catastrophes, a large proportion of humanity is constantly at risk. Recent years have witnessed an alarming increase in the frequency of disaster occurrence as well as the magnitudes of their impact.

Many of the causes and impacts of natural disasters, including droughts, are observable in real-time from space by earth observing systems. When efficiently combined with modern information-distribution methods, such data can be sent rapidly to affected communities and local emergency agencies as early-warning before the disaster occurs, or as post-disaster maps to assist in recovery operations.

“Therefore, satellite systems, not affected by disasters, can be a stable and highly reliable tool for disaster management, information gathering and communication in connection with ground systems.

“The countries in Asia-Pacific, therefore have higher expectations to join forces and cooperate more closely to realize a satellite-based disaster risk management support system such as “Sentinel Asia”, the Minister said.

He said voluntary and best efforts initiatives of Sentinel Asia are commendable. Sharing disaster information in the Asia-Pacific region on web GIS platforms for disaster management creates bonds among countries and communities.

“Disaster Management in Sri Lanka and in most other countries, up to very recently, was focused on relief, rescue, rehabilitation and recovery. There is now a shift to a new disaster management paradigm that stresses on prevention, mitigation and preparedness, while strengthening emergency response-rescue, relief, rehabilitation and recovery. Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing are powerful tools that can support decision-making in all phases of the disaster management cycle.

“With the paradigm shift the role of disaster managers has immensely expanded. The expanded role also means an integration of a number of disciplines and expertise drawn from different areas. “Sentinel Asia” can act as an interface between all these and can support virtually all phases of the disaster management cycle,” he said.

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