A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a national training on Disaster Risk Reduction (“DRR”). DRR, much like the name sounds, is an effort to improve infrastructure and systems—such as early warning systems—to minimize the effects of a natural disaster. I had written my final paper for an international development class on development as DRR, so I both had some knowledge and some interest in this subject.
The training was sponsored by UNDP, and there were representatives from many Kosovar government ministries and NGOs in attendance. It was held at the Hotel Prishtina, which is located just a few minutes walk from my office.
There was a representative from UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) who presented an overview of what DRR is on the first day. The second day was composed of group work and a presentation by a representative of the Swiss National Platform for Natural Hazards, PLANAT. PLANAT is an advisory board made up of civil servants (not politicians), and experts on seismology, meteorology, and other scientists. They are sponsored by the government, and advise the government on a national strategy for disaster risk reduction. Part of the training in Prishtina was to consider whether such a national platform would be a good idea for Kosovo.
Group work: identifying which organizations can contribute to DRR
Presentation by Jean-Jacques Wagner, PLANAT representative
One of the most interesting parts of the training for me was the translation service. Because of the language barrier between native Kosovars, and the international trainers and foreign NGO representatives (like me!), they had real time translation set up. Everyone had a headset, and all of the presenters spoke into a microphone. Just outside the room an interpreter would listen to the presentation, and immediately translate it into either English or Albanian. I’d seen that sort of translation on televised UN proceedings before, but it was the first time I ever got to use it.
Two men listening to the translation into English, one man listening to the speaker in Albanian
It was a great two days for me. I really enjoyed learning more about DRR, and it was cool to talk with both the international trainers, and the Kosovar representatives. I had some great conversations with people from UN Woman and from the Kosovar Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning.