Making Communities Resilient Against Recurrent Disasters: SEEDS

Under Flood Resilient Environmentally Enhanced Disaster Management (FREEDM) project, supported by Lutheran world relief, Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS) focused its intervention in Eastern state of India. Climate change is already wreaking havoc on ecosystems, economies and communities in this region. The marginalised communities are trapped in the vicious circuit of poverty. Besides monetary resources, there is no knowledge to either cope up with the disasters or reduce such disasters. The communities struggle with water security, livelihood security and life security at large. Existing disaster preparedness mechanisms is incompetent to cope with the complex new nature of floods. The extreme weather patterns have affected the yielding patterns across these areas.

Hence, a need for concerted efforts for adaptation was felt. The main objective of the intervention was to make the communities resilient against recurrent disasters. The interventions addressed the need to build the knowledge and skills of these marginalised communities on reducing the impacts of climate change. It helped to install mechanisms, which would help them to achieve food security, and demonstrated mechanisms for water security and emergency response.

Simple people centric early warning systems have been set up that are easy to implement, comprehend and monitor water level of the rivers at the local level. Nurseries for bamboo and banana plants are helping communities’ link ecological protection with an eco-friendly livelihood model. Through participatory planning and assessments, abandoned or defunct wells have been identified and with proper repair and retrofitting rendered usable again. The micro-level, multi-stakeholder citizen forum is taking lead in solving local problems through community led initiatives and bridging the gap with local governance. Across each of the ten hamlets, task forces on search & rescue, first aid, evacuation and communication and on relief and shelter options were formed. At the panchayat level, a Disaster management coordination committee (DMCC) is formed to encourage the community to monitor and make project decisions themselves. This is slowly making an impact on the social construct of the village with more people coming out of their homes and actively making their voices heard.

This project has empowered women to adapt to Climate Change. They not only participated in the activities but were involved in addressing the issues of food and livelihood security while playing a pivotal role in managing grain banks and practicing alternative short term cropping techniques. Women’s involvement in the community disaster resilience fund (CDRF) is a huge accomplishment in itself as they gain confidence through the collection and monitoring of the fund. These community based approaches have fostered leadership amongst women to express their needs and take key role in decision making processes.