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Community Based Disaster Preparedness Project An initiative of Caritas India & Kerala Social Service Forum
Community Based Disaster Preparedness
atural disasters have been visiting every part of the globe at one time or other. Our world is becoming more vulnerable to disasters. Community based disaster preparedness project is the commitment of the Kerala Social Service Forum to the coastal community to effectively manage disasters. Project envisions creation of resilient communities capable of managing disaster where Preparedness, mitigation and risk reduction are the pillars. Paradigm shift effected is that local communities, and not the outside agencies are the principal respondents to a disaster. We envision a community aware of its resources and in position to take up responsibilities. And yet disaster preparedness cannot be an isolated venture but has to be coupled with developmental initiatives. It is a question of addressing geological and social vulnerabilities from a development angle. Project is being implemented in tsunami affected five districts of Kerala viz,Trivandrum, Kollam,Alleppey, Ernakulam and Trichur in coordinating partnership with Diocesan Social Service Societies.
Capacitation of the coastal communities of selected wards of five districts of Kerala to effectively manage disasters and promote sustainable development through community mobilisation.
Strengthen capacities of Community based organisations and structures to address development issues in a collective manner. Promote and replicate locally specific water and sanitation structures and create community consciousness on eco restoration and environment. Facilitate lobbying and networking with PRIs, Line Departments and other institutions for sustainability of the community initiatives.
Caterpillars Eye View
istory of world is mans tryst with disasters. It is after mutations and metamorphosis that the universe has come to the present form and appearance. The truth is that many species that existed before the emergence of man into the universe are now extinct.The evolutionary principle- “survival of the fittest” is nature’s law that can never be negated. The species, that could not survive natural catastrophes like floods and earthquakes, have vanished from the earth. Natural disasters have wiped out from the face of the earth millions of human beings. More have been killed in wars, communal riots and genocides unleashed by dictators. Harbour waves always trigger up fear of the traditional fishermen’s. But this time the killer Tsunami not only triggered up the fear but also rampaged in almost all coastal areas of the South East Asia with out any discrimination on the class, creed or sex. It was Sunday after Christmas - 26th December, the sea receded to bare the rocks at the bottoms. People were amazed at the sight but it was the lull before the rushing waves that devastated entire villages in our coast. Giant tidal waves engulfed our coast with unknown revenge. The earthquake, which measured 8.9 on the Richter scale, is counted as the most powerful in the last 40 years all over the world. The after effect of Tsunami left thousands dead in South East Asia and many more homeless. As far as Kerala is concerned the giant tidal waves left its fury in all its velocity and wrath in Kollam district. Unprecedented Tsunami of 2004 acted as a reason for the community mobilisation of people in the affected areas of Kerala. Instead of viewing the field from a birds eye view, the team has ventured out into the field through a caterpillars eye view and has overcome all blockades like a caterpillar trekking over anything that seems perturbed.
Participatory Learning and Analysis
esilience building is an important part of any disaster response programme and disaster mitigation project was initiated soon after the rehabilitation was over. Stakeholder participation was one of the corner stone in the implementation of a community owned project. Project team oriented the community about the need of Community Based Disaster Preparedness programme and the capacitated community identified the risk that would affect their life and livelihoods through Participatory Learning Exercises. Building resilience is to be read in the context of advancing the dream of a nation or a community to attain self reliance. Based on the output of the participatory learning’s the community chalked out the action plan to mitigate any probable disasters. Village Contingency Plan is a process of developing strategies, arrangements and procedures to address the humanitarian needs of those who can be adversely affected by potential crisis/disaster. An active contingency planning process enables individuals, teams, organisations and communities to establish working relationship between them which can make a critical difference in the response mechanisms during a crisis situation. Plan helps to reinforce coordination mechanisms by keeping them active and by clarifying roles and responsibilities before a crisis. Village Contingency Fund is the life line of Emergency Response Teams of the project. Survival of the programme after the project period depends on the volume of fund available for the action of the emergency response teams. Formation of community owned structures like Emergency Response Teams, Coordination Committee, Federation of SHG’s, and Disaster Management Teams were identified as the next steps in the disaster risk reduction efforts.
Formation and Training of Task Force Teams for a disaster resilient community
rimary respondents of any kind of disaster is the community itself and realizing that unless community is capacitated disaster preparedness will remain in papers, we sowed the seeds of peoples groups. A focus on resilience means putting greater emphasis on what communities can do for themselves and how to strengthen their capacities, rather than concentrating on their vulnerability disaster or their needs in an emergency. A disaster resilient community is the safest possible community that we have the knowledge to design and build in a natural hazard context, minimizing its vulnerability by maximizing the application of Disaster Risk Reduction measures. DRR is there fore collection of actions, or process, undertaken towards achieving resilience. Emergency Response Team’s have been formed in intervention villages. Training in specific tasks associated with disaster preparedness was imparted to the members. In association with various government and non government departments training were provided. The teams include Early Warning Team, Search and Rescue Team, Medical and First Aid Team, Relief and Rehabilitation Team & Damage Assessment Team. Mock drills are conducted once in a while to keep the community vigilant to probable disasters. Thousands of volunteers clubbed into teams are holding the fort in forty four coastal villages to combat and manage the recurring disasters like sea erosion, flash floods and epidemics. Regular mock drills keep the villagers vigilant to any situations. Provision of megaphone, First Aid Kit and Search and Rescue materials has increased the capacity of the villagers to overcome any risk situations by there own.
Networking and Lobbying
e are challenged to turn disaster preparedness into a people’s movement with the participation of all stakeholders – the Govt, the common man and voluntary agencies. Isolated ventures are bound to provide limited results but coordinated ventures with long term vision and integrated approach will reap results - a hundred fold. One of the highlights of the project was the networking the team had with the CBO’s, NGO’s, CSO’s in the reference area. Self Help Groups of the reference area has been federated for coordinated response. As a part of strengthening the functioning and capacity building of the leader’s trainings on management and leadership were provided in respective areas. Panchayathi Raj Institutions are one of the major stake holders of the project and our Task Force Teams works hand in hand with the Local Self Governments. Formation of Disaster Management Team at the LSG level has ensured more coordinated response as the stakeholders from the community, LSG, Government administration and Social activists holds hand here. Quarterly review with the Panchayathi Raj Institution leaders acted as an eye opener for the project as effective and constructive ideas were put forward by them. Disaster induced development is also an aim of the project and by ensuring participation in the Gram Sabhas; the community is participating in the developmental initiatives. People’s decisions are really honoured in the Gram Sabhas by channelling funds for development projects.
We are Prepared
revention is better than cure, is an old saying which is very apt in the context of disaster management. Every year colossal amount of resources are being used by our Government as well as Aid agencies in relief and rehabilitation measures. It is now becoming increasingly evident and mitigation and investment in disaster preparedness can save thousand of lives, vital economic assets, livelihoods and reduce the cost of overall disaster relief. Community Based Disaster Preparedness has now became a culture of living for the people of the coastal areas of Kerala. Community has owned up the project and they are now aware of disasters. Task forces have taken up the responsibility of managing disasters and in this response they responded to several incidents like flash floods, fire outbreak and evacuation of people at time of sea erosion. CBDP is now deep rooted in the hearts of the people of the reference area. Project opened up a new way for the people whom were facing recurrent disasters like flash flood, tidal waves, sea erosion and they echoes their voice “We are prepared”
Natural hazards will always challenge us. But it is within our power to ensure that poverty does not turn hazards into unmanageable disasters. And it is within our power to join forces, address the immense complexities of disaster reduction, and build a world of resilient communities and nations equipped to counter the adverse impact of natural hazards and related environmental and technological disasters”. Mr. Kofi Annan Former UN Secretary General
Kerala Social Service Forum
AMOS Centre, Adichira, Thellakom P.O., Kottayam (Dist). Kerala, India. Pin - 686 016 Phone: 0481 - 2594802, 2594803 E-mail: email@example.com www.kssf.org
Preparedness is the Key in combating Disasters
Warning! Cyclone is nearing the coast. Don’t go for fishing
Ok we are not going to sea today
Move the women and children to safer places
Let us take refuge at school
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