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Islamic Relief at the British Political Party Conferences
17 October 2012
“By preparing communities to adapt to floods and droughts, we are saving hundreds of lives for years to come. This is the way forward” Syed Shahnawaz Ali
This month’s Labour and Conservative party conferences saw Islamic Relief lobbying for a change in the strategic approaches to helping the world’s poorest communities - through Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).
Islamic Relief’s report
“Feeling the Heat: the human cost of poor preparation for disasters”
highlights the need for a change in how droughts and floods are tackled by the international community of governments, institutions and the general public.
The report argues that if more money is invested in resilience and climate - change adaptation programmes - such as building homes and establishing livelihoods on raised mounds in Bangladesh - fewer lives and homes would be destroyed when the next disaster strikes. This requires a fundamental change in attitude from the donor community, which tends focus on immediate relief after disaster strikes. The report raises awareness of the importance of disaster preparedness, the enormous cost-benefits of working in this way and the likely impact on the number of lives and livelihoods that can be saved.
Islamic Relief hosted fringe events at both party conferences to present this case in partnership with a leading British political and current affairs magazine, the New Statesman.
At the Labour party conference in Manchester, Shadow Minister for International Development, Rushanara Ali, highlighted the importance of investment in disaster preparedness programmes and spoke about her recent visit with Islamic Relief to Kenya where she visited programmes which are helping communities who are traditionally pastoralists and would be wiped out by drought, by giving them alternative livelihoods so they can survive.
At the Conservative party conference in Birmingham, Alistair Burt MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, spoke about his party’s views on climate-change adaptation programmes and the importance of future investment from government and non-governmental organisations to minimise the impact and tragedy of natural disasters.
Syed Shahnawaz Ali, Islamic Relief’s Head of Climate Change programmes in Bangladesh, related his experience of working with communities to help them adapt to flooding, while Martin Cottingham, Media Relations and Advocacy Manager at IRUK spoke about the recently published report, “Feeling the Heat”.
Craig Bennett from Friends of the Earth thanked the speakers for opening up the debate and emphasised that longer-term solutions that equip people and communities with the skills and tools they need to prepare for disasters is the way forward for NGOs, environmental agencies and governments.
Islamic Relief’s participation at the party conferences was part of our larger advocacy efforts with regard to Disaster Risk Reduction - with an emphasis upon finding practical solutions to the tragedies that regularly affect many of the world’s poorest communities.
As Syed Shahnawaz Ali said, “By preparing communities to adapt to floods and droughts, we are saving hundreds of lives for years to come. This is the way forward.”
For more information regarding Islamic Relief’s presence at the Labour and Conservative Party Conferences, please contact:
Martin Cottingham at: email@example.com or on 07974109914 or
Safiya Sayed Baharun at Safiya.firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07872 403534
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