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In search of higher ground floods 2007 Oxfam East India response a report


Eastern India Flood Situation Eastern India has some of the most poverty stricken regions in the country that are vulnerable to natural disasters like floods, cyclones and earthquakes. These impact the lives and livelihood of almost 90% of the population. The Eastern Indian states comprise of marginalised communities, scheduled castes and tribes who are deprived of basic amenities for survival. These agricultural economies get devastated because of natural disasters. Due to lack of employment opportunities the migration rate is very high. Poor Governance is also an issue in majority of the states in this part of country leading to poor implementation of government schemes and unplanned measures to tackle the poverty and suffering of the population.

One of the most occurring disasters is floods that occur between June and September every year. The nature of these floods can be recurrent flash flooding, early flooding and prolonged slow onset flooding. 2007 Floods were one of the most severe in this decade in all the eastern India states - West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar and Assam. The complexity of the situation was compounded by multiple flooding, remoteness of the areas and difficult communication.

Flood affected families waiting for country boats to return to villages after taking relief material, Bihar


1 7000 villages in 8 districts, ~ 4.7 mil. people affected. 32 deaths reported. Oxfam responded to 10,000 families

5 Cholera outbreak in 2 districts, ~ 20000

2 2000 villages in 5 districts, ~ 9,00,000 people affected. Oxfam responded to 30,000 families

3 5448 villages in 26 districts, ~ 6.3 mil. people affected.

people affected. 200 deaths estimated. Oxfam responded to 8,000 families

22 deaths reported. Oxfam responded to 9,000 families

4 1600 villages in 14 districts, ~ 22 mil. people affected. 200 deaths estimated. Oxfam responded to 15,000 families 2007 JULY

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

3 4

1 2

5

Oxfam Response Background Over the last 57 years in India Oxfam GB has responded to all major incidences of emergencies in the country and to floods in East India. In the past decade, Oxfam East India Office has responded to almost all the major catastrophes in the operational states of West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar and Assam. In recent years, Oxfam has responded to Orissa's Super Cyclone of 1999, floods of 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2006, with immediate relief to the affected people. Oxfam has provided support to critically affected families with relief, recovery/rehabilitation, and has built capacities for future preparedness.

“It sounded like a bomb exploding. I could hear the embankment breaking 3 kms away. The water began seeping through in small portions. It finally gave way and there was a huge flood. As soon as I saw the water coming through the embankment, I ran home to get my family and take them to safety. We all made it just in time. But we lost all our food, my bicycle, utensils. The flood not only took all my possessions, but also my entire house. Our fields are gone.� Rameshwar Rai Narwar village, Jhanjharpur Block Madhubani


Phase I Oxfam GB East India office responded to 72,000 critically affected families in all the four states to reduce their suffering and vulnerability to public health and hygiene, adequate shelter and food needs. Immediate support was provided to critically flood affected families with food aid, public health - water sanitation, and temporary shelter.

Rescue Safe transit was provided to 5000 affected communities between villages and raised grounds / camp sites.

Public Health : Safe Water & Sanitation n 500 health volunteers ensured to an

extent safe hygiene practices at household level.

n 1,350 pit latrines, 20 temporary latrines,

20 temporary bathrooms and 4 permanent latrines were constructed to ensure safe defecation and sanitation during floods for the most vulnerable families living in camps / embankments. n 1093 hand pumps were disinfected,

raised and repaired with platforms to ensure safe water throughout the year and during floods. n 21 Communal bathrooms with hand

pumps and bathing facilities for women were constructed in Bihar to ensure privacy and safety for women. n Village cleanliness and hygiene promo-

tion campaign reiterated change to safe hygiene practices among families to safeguard from health risks and enhance preparedness for future floods.

Community transit through country boat, Tardih, Bihar


The overall objective for Phase II was to ensure immediate recovery of 7500 flood affected families. The sectors addressed were food security, short-term livelihoods, cash for work opportunities, water/sanitation issues and capacity building to reduce risks during future floods.

Food Security and Livelihoods n Agricultural Recovery through

Provision of Winter Crops This was to help vulnerable families recover from loss of primary agriculture (crops such as paddy), prevent migration to fund food and income needs and ensure minimum food in the next season.

paredness and reducing flood related risks at the village level.

Key Achievements n Income and Food security

5300 beneficiaries (30% women) worked on construction and repair of village assets, with more than 80% intended impact towards risk reduction at the village and household level. Structures that were created include raised platforms, mounds, link roads, repair embankments, irrigation channels, ponds excavation and raised homesteads.

n Cash for Work (CFW)

This strategy had a two pronged approach: Firstly addressing the short term food and income needs of targeted vulnerable families. Secondly the construction under CFW was aimed at disaster risk reduction by strengthening pre-

“We were in a deep sleep when the floods started. It began with a very severe wind blowing. My father-in-law woke all of us up and told us we had to get to higher ground to escape.

health. They provided us with bore wells for drinking water and temporary toilets.At the moment I am doing all the household work as we continue to get back our life. I also look after my two children.”

It was when we were moving out that my labour pains began. My father-in-law built a makeshift boat from a banana tree and used it to help me get out of the floods. When we got to higher ground I gave birth to my child.

Namita Mahalik, 22 years Orissa

It was seven days after that relief teams from other countries came to help us. We were given encouragement and made to feel strong to be able to fight with our worsening conditions. By eating the food that the NGO's provided for us we are able to gain back our health. The NGO's gave us cash for work programmes, which helped us get money and which we are using to help improve our situation. They also taught us about hygiene and how to maintain good

“The floods were extremely severe. If our house had not been raised, it would have been literally under the water. We would have lost everything.” Shanti Devi (dalit woman) Bihar Shanti Devi’s raised house saved her family from having to relocate.


Best Practices

Coordination

n Raised Hand pumps : In Coordination

n Oxfam has played a key role in Co-

meetings, Key Government officials from Rural Water and Supply Department or Public health and Engineering department acknowledged the need for raised hand pumps of similar design in villages. The department has planned to construct new hand pumps following the model.

ordination meetings within international agencies and with government in all the three project states. Regular meetings have happened as preparedness to 2008 floods.

n Cash for Work constructions linkages

with Disaster Risk Reduction : Government officials, during visits to constructed sites (raised mounds/shelters, raised roads, repair embankments, raised homesteads) have acknowledged the need for similar structures from NREGA* resources. (*National Rural Employment Guarantee Act provides employment opportunities to construct similar structures in rural areas). In Orissa and Assam, the government has planned to do similar constructions.

n In Assam, Oxfam is supporting Inter

Agency Secretariat (coordination body for all international agencies) to strengthen Inter Agency Group (IAG) coordination with Government. IndoGlobal Social Service Society (IGSSS), Assam, will function as secretariat and Oxfam has signed an MOU with it. n Oxfam and its partners have taken the

lead in organising District level coordination meetings in all the project districts.

Key Advocacy issues

n Community negotiates for appropriate

n Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction in

wages under NREGA : Villagers in the project areas bargained for their entitled wage (Rs.80/-) under NREGA. Earlier they were paid less by government however as a result of Oxfam and partners’ cash for work payments and awareness on NREGA guidelines, they were able to get their correct dues.

National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme n Influencing on flood tolerant water and

sanitation infrastructures n Incorporating hygiene promotion classes

in school curriculum n Ensuring entitlements for people from

the government under NREGA, Calamity Relief Fund.

Raised handpump at Darbhanga, Bihar


Operations Overview

Phase I

States

Districts

Partners

Vill

Families

Bihar

Madhubani

BSS, Adisha Sakhi

104

7500

PH/ Watsan, Dry food and Shelter

Darbhanga

BSS, MSVS, Batika

40

3000

PH/ Watsan, Dry food and Shelter

Sitamarhi

Adithi

49

4500

PH/ Watsan, Dry food and Shelter

14

24280

PH/ Watsan, Shelter

1

720

PH/ Watsan, Shelter

5

5000

PH/ Watsan, Shelter

Orissa

Balasore

Unnayan

Mayurbhanj

Assam

Support

Bhadrak

Fellowship

Koraput

Ekta

40

4000

PH/ Watsan, Cholera

Rayagada

USO

40

4000

PH/ Watsan, Cholera

Morigaon

MMM

35

5000

PH / Watsan, Dry food, Shelter, Livestock support

15

3000

Diarrhoea Support PH/ Watsan, Dry food and Shelter

Lakhimpur

RVC

20

1000

West Bengal

West Midnapore

SGBK

12

10000

4 states

11 districts

13 partners

395

72,000

States

Districts

Partners

Blocks

Bihar

Madhubani

Abhigyan, Disha

Madhwapur

5

500

500

Darbhanga

BSS

Tardih

6

750

750

Sitamarhi

Adithi

Bajpatti

4

750

750

Balasore

Unnayan

Basta

20

1650

1650

Jaleswar

4

350

350

Orissa

PH/ Watsan, ORS

Phase II

Vill

Families under Agr. Recov

Families for all sectors

Bhadrak

Fellowship

Dhamnagar

9

1000

1000

Assam

Morigaon

MMM

Lahariaghat

14

2500

1000

3 states

6 districts

6 partners

7 blocks

62

7500

6000 families

Key Donors & Funding Phase I

Phase II

OXFAM

GBP 1,537,470

GBP 370,235

ECHO

EUR 1,000,000

EUR 500,577


Only means to commute to marooned villages, Darbhanga, Bihar

Partners n Bihar Bihar Sewa Samiti, Abhigyan

Disha, Sakhi, MSVS, Batika n Orissa Unnayan, Fellowship, Ekta,

Universal Service Organisation n Assam Morigaon Mahila Mehfil, Rural

Volunteers Centre n West Bengal Sarbik Gram Bikas Kendra n Inter Agency Group Members Bihar,

Assam, Orissa, West Bengal

Conceptualisation & Design Mani Kumar Programme Coordinator, Oxfam Thoughtshop Foundation www.thoughtshopfoundation.org Oxfam East India Office Camelia, 30/SB, Block B New Alipur, Kolkata 700 053 West Bengal, India ( (+91 33) 2445 6650/6794 Š August 2008



In Search of Higher Ground