South Asia is one of the most disaster prone regions of the world. Some parts of the eight countries of this region - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - are hit every year by one or more disasters, taking heavy toll of life and property and causing enormous suffering and distress to thousands of families. Hard earned gains of development made over years of efforts of the government and the people get eroded and scarce resources are diverted for relief, rehabilitation, recovery and reconstruction, which create further setbacks for development.
Most of the natural disasters in South Asia are rooted in the geo-physical and hydro-climatic conditions of the sub-continent that connect several countries of the region. Almost all the major disasters transcend the boundaries of the affected country and simultaneously impact one or more neighbouring countries. The Pakistan earthquake of 2005 affected part of north India just as the Bhuj earthquake of 2001 sent tremors as far as Karachi. Much of the recurrent floods in India and Bangladesh have their origin in Nepal. The cyclones of Bay of Bengal affect the coastal regions of India and Bangladesh just as the cyclones on Arabian Sea hit the coasts of Gujarat in India and Sindh in Pakistan. Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 caused devastation simultaneously in India, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
Considering the regional dimensions of natural disasters the 3rd SAARC Summit had commissioned a comprehensive Regional Study on the Causes and Consequences of Natural Disasters. A SAARC Meteorological Research Centre was established in Dhaka in 1995 and a SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre was set up at Male in 2004. A Special Session of the SAARC Environment Ministers in June 2005 adopted the Male Declaration, which called for formulation of a Comprehensive Framework of Disaster Management in South Asia.
The 13th SAARC Summit at Dhaka in November 2005 considered the issues of regional cooperation for preparedness and mitigation of national disasters and approved the offer of India to set up a SAARC Disaster Management Centre Management in New Delhi. The Centre was inaugurated on 10th October 2006 by Mr. Shiv Raj Patil, Home Minister of India.
The 15th SAARC Summit at Colombo in August 2008 entrusted to the SAARC Disaster
Management Center to develop a Natural Disaster Rapid Response Mechanism (NDRRM)
for coordination and planned approach to meet emergencies.
SAARC Disaster Management Centre inaugurated by Mr. Shiv Raj Patil