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COMMUNITY BASED DISASTER MANAGEMENT
May 17, 2015

Community connections are the relationships necessary to develop, implement, and maintain an effective end-to-end early warning system. A multi-hazard warning center can only be successful if the warnings it produces reach individuals at risk and are easy to understand, resulting in appropriate responses. To assure warnings are most effective, the staff at a center must establish trusted partnerships among international organizations, governmental agencies, community leaders and organizations, businesses, and local citizens prior to issuing a warning.

The approach promoted under Community-based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) is to build people‘s capacity of coping with disaster risks and reducing their vulnerability thereby developing safer and more resilient communities. This involved the change of focus from emergency response to planned activities that would mitigate or prevent disasters.

The need for community based disaster management (CBDM) stems from the inadequacy of topdown management approaches in addressing the needs of vulnerable communities. Increase in disaster occurrence and disaster related loss is due to exponential increase in occurrence of small and medium scale disasters This approach encourages directly involving vulnerable communities in planning and implementation of mitigation measures. The bottom-up approach has received wide acceptance because communities are considered the best judges of their own vulnerability and are in better position to make decisions for their well-being.

A thorough assessment of a community’s exposure to hazards and an analysis of their specific vulnerabilities and capacities will be the basis for activities, projects and programs of CDBM. Because a community will be involved right from the inception of CBDM, community needs as well as resources available locally are optimally used and disaster mitigation planning will be sound. This will contribute in strengthening community’s capacities; ensures livelihood security and sustainable development. CBDM emphasizes the importance of community as the primary stakeholder in risk reduction and development process.

Essential features of Community Based Disaster Management (CBDM)

  • The focus of attention in long-term and short-term disaster management will be the local community.

  • Disaster risk or vulnerability reduction is the foundation of CBDM.

  • The primary content of disaster management activities revolve around reducing vulnerable conditions and removing root causes of vulnerability. This is achieved through strengthening community’s capacity and by providing disaster mitigation resources such as readily accessible cyclone shelters.

  • Enhanced risks due to poorly planned development programmes turn minor emergencies into disasters.

  • Adopting CBDM approach in managing disasters contribute to people’s empowerment by way of physical safety; guaranteed access and more on resources; promotes community’s participation in decision making related to risk reduction.

  • In CBDM approach, community is a key resource in disaster risk reduction.

  • Priority is given to improve the conditions of the most vulnerable mobilization/evacuation to safe places.

  • CBDM brings together the multitude of community stakeholders for disaster risk reduction; enables expansion of resource base. Linking up communities that are most vulnerable with key systems such as early warning mechanisms, resource mobilization etc. at state and central government will be critical to the success of CBDM approach.

  • Disaster resilient communities are ―flexible and elastic‖. They have the ―ability to recover from depression‖ or ―adjust, spring back easily from misfortune or change.

Snapshot on Efforts on CBDM in IndiaThe Government recognizes that “A Better Prepared Community is Key to Effective Disaster Risk Reduction” and has been striving to take the agenda forward to strengthen community risk resilience in the country. Some of the initiatives which summarize efforts made in this direction are briefly mentioned below:

♦ The Disaster Management Act, 2005 and National Policy on Disaster Management, 2009 mandates every segment of governance to be included in effective disaster management including Panchayati Raj institutions, & Municipalities. It also mandates strong association of the community and civil society with the process through well thought out strategies of awareness generation, capacity building and training. The 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments, recognizing Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) as ‘institutions of self – government’, have established decision making processes at designated grassroots level. Local self governance units (PRIs) are now mandated to be run by communities and elected representatives of them are the link with upward hierarchy of PRIs.

♦ In India, Community based disaster preparedness was first introduced at a large scale through the GOI – UNDP Disaster Risk Management Programme in the early 2000. “The GOI-UNDP Disaster Risk Management (DRM) programme (2002- 2009)”, executed by the Ministry of Home Affairs with UNDP’ support was a community-based initiative in 176 multi hazard districts in 17 States/UTs at a total estimated cost of Rs 153 Crore (US$ 41 million). Under this programme, disaster management plans have been prepared at district and village levels; village volunteers trained in first-aid, search and rescue, evacuation; relief and shelter management; disaster management teams constituted at the district and sub-district levels and mock drills conducted at various levels. It is known to be the largest community-based DRM programme in the world. This was followed by GOI – UNDP Disaster Risk Reduction Programme between 2009 and 2012 which was aimed at institutional strengthening for target states, districts and cities where targeted community capacity building was also undertaken for teachers, town-planners, masons, etc.

♦ States like Assam, Gujarat and Odisha have undertaken significant community capacity building interventions at various levels through their respective State Disaster Management Authorities. Many Non- Governmental Organizations in the country too have c) taken up Community based disaster preparedness (CBDP) at State or District Levels with support and facilitation as well as collaboration with State Governments (Bihar, Sikkim, Gujarat, Odisha, Assam , Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu; etc). Some of the most vulnerable districts in the country have been covered through these programmes. The results have led to greater institutionalization of CBDP practice in many states.

♦ The process of formulating the National Policy Guidelines on Community Based Disaster Management (CBDM) has got initiated by NDMA. The guidelines envision spelling out the role of communities in all phases of disaster management and strengthening the existing mechanisms for community organization and involvement. The guidelines would have certain key action points and SOPs which will enable the communities to perform their respective roles and should provide impetus to capacity building resulting into creation of risk resilient communities and adoption of build back better strategy.

♦ NDMA has undertaken a Pilot Project on “Capacity Building in Disaster Management for Government Officials and Representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies at District Level with the help of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) which is aimed at building & strengthening capacity of Government Officials and Representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies (PRI & ULB’s) at district level in the areas of disaster prevention, preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery.

♦ NDMA in collaboration with State Govt. of Uttar Pradesh has undertaken Social Mobilisation Campaign for management and control of Japanese Encephalitis/ Acute Encephalitis by facilitating trainings related with capacity building of health staff at various levels in the state with respect to JE/AES. One of the components of the Social Mobilization campaign is conducting household visits for creating awareness amongst the community for prevention and control of JE/AES.

♦ National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) undertakes various awareness generation and capacity building interventions on strengthening community risk resilience every year across different strategic locations in the country.

♦ NDMA conducts mock exercises every year at different locations and facilities in the country with a view to check the existing emergency response and coordination mechanisms at the facility/ district/state administrative levels. Between October 2006 to March 2013, 390 mock exercises, at various facility/district/state headquarters and 98 mock exercises in various schools have been conducted.

♦ Mega cities in India are hosts to huge concentrations of urban population who day in and day out live under the threat of the possible occurrence of natural and man-made hazards. NDMA has started implementing the Model of Emergency Management Exercises which focuses on undertaking capacity building and strengthening interagency coordination of diverse group of stakeholders (emergency responders) involved in emergency/disaster with a special focus of medical mass casualty management and preparedness focussing upon the urban communities and this has been successfully implemented in Chennai(2011), Guwahati(2012) and Delhi(2012).

Considering the increasing complexity, scale of disasters in recent times and the potential that lies within local communities and civil societies – a partnership based approach to preventing, preparing, responding and recovering from disasters is inevitable. When it comes to creating community risk resilience in the diverse Indian Context, it certainly does neither have Nescafe solutions nor overnight solutions. It is a collective responsibility. Creating community risk resilience involves a process -right from hazard vulnerability risk analysis to resource management to capacity enhancement to community managed and community led disaster risk planning. While the Government stands committed towards strengthening efforts on CBDM, the task at hand with its various diverse and manifold dimensions entails collaboration and cooperation amongst all the relevant stakeholders.

CASE STUDY of CBDM Approach

1. Preparedness minimizing the loss: Flood 2008, Sambalpur:

Due to low pressure in the Bay of Bengal that was subsequently intensified to a deep depression there was very heavy rain in the upper and lower catchments of Mahanadi System in September, 2008 that resulted in flood. Due to local rain in the district and water discharge from the Hirakud dam, the low lying areas and the back water forced the urban areas in flood like situation. Poor drainage system in the district caused water logging in many wards of the municipality and flash flood mainly in two blocks i.e. Dhakauda and Maneswar basically affected the people.

2. The spirit of Volunteerism saved many lives in Maharashtra:

District Level Volunteers Search and Rescue operation in Dhule district of Maharashtra is an exemplary example of full preparedness and well-coordinated team work of the unparalleled rescue operation in Dhule. The DM plan preparation process was identified for 92 of the 676 villages in the district spread in four talukas prone to floods every year. As there were heavy rains and floods in several parts of Maharashtra and the neighbouring states of Gujarat around the same time in the month of August 2006, in Dhule district, only one rubber inflatable boat and two medium capacity boats were available, that too for a short time, as against the immediate need of at least four boats. Yet the DRM District Project Officer and young members of the search and rescue team in the late evening hours of 8th August 2006 transported to safe places, 1300 people from 5 Villages and provide relief in 3 villages located on the bank of river Tapi using just one Boat.

Recalling the rescue operation, at that moment the only available boat was engulfed by the spate of flood water currents, leaving no other option for the rescue members to step out of the boat and wade through the flowing waters clasping hands together moving inch by inch to safety. Two members of the team were able to reach onto the other side of the bank. The floating boat was retrieved by them and helped residents from the waterlogged villages. The operation continued till the next morning.

The rescue operation, recalled one of the village youth, Ishwar Shriram Koli, "We got up in the morning to see our village completely surrounded by flood water, and we were scared when the water levels started rising ferociously, it was something we had never seen before. His father, a village sarpanch and former police officer praised and thanked the search & rescue team members for being trained to use the Rubber Inflatable Boat as part of ongoing DRM training on search and rescue operation and for ferrying the nearby village residents to safety.

Shailaja Joshi, the tehsildar of Sinkhede also apart of Village Disaster Management team, showed courage and sense of duty after being trained to used the Rubber Inflatable Boat. He rescued the trapped people by going from village to village from early morning to late night consecutively for four days during till the flood waters could recede in August 2006. The flood search & rescue team including the DPO was awarded certificate of honour by Honorable Guardian Minister of the District, Shri Ravindraseth Patil on 15th August 2006 at the collectorate, Dhule District, Maharashtra.

3. Community based shelter management: Orissa experience

In the aftermath of the super cyclone of 1999 that ravaged the coastal Orissa OSDMA has constructed 97 Multipurpose Cyclone Shelters in 6 coastal districts. 37 have been constructed under World Bank assistance and 60 have been constructed out of Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. 41 more are under construction out of Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund. Indian Red Cross Society, Orissa Branch has also constructed 65 Multipurpose Cyclone Shelters. Thus 203 cyclone shelters are in place in various vulnerable locations in six coastal districts of the State.

Community Based Cyclone Shelter Management and Maintenance Committees (CSMMCs) have been formed under the Chairmanship of local BDO and a volunteer from the community as Secretary and the buildings have been handed over to the concerned CSMMC for management and maintenance. Local Tahasildar, Medical Officer, Junior Engineer of the Block, Revenue Inspector, Head Master of the School, ANM and Anganwadi Supervisor are Ex-Officio Members of the Committee. Representatives from local NGO, from shelter and served villages, SHG and SC & ST communities are also members of the Committee. The CSMMC takes the charge of day-to-day management and maintenance of the building. Most of the buildings have been constructed in School premises so that the buildings will be used for School purposes during normal time. The CSMMC has also been authorized to put the building for economic / community uses like community house, kalian mandap etc. and earn user fees. The amount so earned is kept in a joint account and as and when necessary spent for the purpose of maintenance of the building.

Capacity building of CSMMC

The CSMMC members and Village Disaster Management Teams like DMT on first-aid and DMT on search & rescue have been trained under DRM Programme. 25 volunteers per shelter have been trained on first-aid techniques by the trainers from St. John Ambulance. Similarly 25 volunteers per shelter have been imparted training on search & rescue techniques by the trainers from Civil Defence organization. The shelters have also been given a linkage with the Village, GP & Block level plans prepared under the DRM Programme.

Shelter Equipment

Cyclone shelters have been provided with a number of shelter equipment like First Aid Box, Free Kitchen Utensils, Inflatable Tower Lights, Aluminum Ladder, Power Saw, Life Buoy, Life Jacket, Search Light, Stretcher, Siren, Flexi-Water Tank, Fire Extinguisher, Foldable Stretcher, Solar Lantern, Water Filter and Handheld Megaphone, etc. Most of the equipment will be used for Search & Rescue and shelter purposes. The CSMMC members and villagers have been trained on the use of equipment during disasters.


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