Category Archives: Grassroots Resilience

Women come together under Community Practitioners Platform (CPP)

Purpose:  Build a common platform for communities to come together to transfer practices and advocate with government.

Community practitioners, government officials, and civil society organizations came to??????????????????????gether at PUSA Agriculture University, Samastipur, Bihar on May 7, 2013 to discuss the challenges and achievements in local partnership in addressing disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and the role of grassroots women community.

More than 50 women leaders representing 13 NGOs and CBOS across Bihar, Orissa, Tamilnadu and Maharashtra have demonstrated different initiatives by community in addressing disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Women leaders from different states shared their problems in their area and how they have address to reduce the impact.

After introduction of the participants Naseem Shaikh from SSP has given a brief picture about Community Practitioner Platform and how SSP is going to present the recommendation from forthcoming session of Global Platform for DRR in Geneva from May 19-23.  She narrated how SSP is facilitating grassroots resilience initiatives across Asia, working with Huairou Commission and GROOTS International.

To make women more powerful and strengthen the grassroots community to access more resources and take lead in creating safety community, she explained the launch of CPP in Delhi in 2010. The strategy to develop leadership we promoted CRF fund, local planning, identify priorities and partner with local government. Mapping learning and resilience funds are the community design for resilience.

Women leaders from Bihar shared how they did vulnerability mapping in??????????????????????????????? the villages, identified risk and initial challenges in working with local panchayat, block officials and district authority. NGO partners who facilitated grassroots resilience initiatives explained the importance of learning and organizing dialogue with govt authorities and community women.

Godavari Dange from Sakhi Federation, Tuljapur articulated how women federation facilitated community in mapping agriculture resources, addressing water scarcity and drought in Maharashtra, mobilizing landless women to hire land on lease to start organic initiatives thru collective action and the role of Women Federation in linking Krishi Mahila Mandals (Agriculture Women Groups) to Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Agriculture Universities and District agriculture departments in Marathwada and Vidarbha regions of Maharashtra.

Grassroots leaders from Bihar, Orissa, Tamilnadu and Maharashtra shared their challenges in working with local government and how they overcome and bringing the change locally.

???????????????????????????????Anil Sinha, Vice Chairman, Bihar State Disaster Management Authority expressed his confidence in women leaders skills and capacity in addressing disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. He also recommended that HFA should be named as CFA (Community Framework for Action).

At the end of the programme recommendation was made to present to Global Platform for DRR in Geneva from May 19-23, 2013.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

After HFA there should be COMMUNITY FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION (CFA): Develop community framework for action in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation for the next 10 years

CPP – SIMPLIFY THE LANGUAGE INTO LOCAL: Change the Community Practitioners Platform (CPP) into regional languages in a simple way that communicates to local people to understand grassroots practice. Encourage their communities to come up in their local language

PARTNERS AND (LOCAL) LEADERS: To strengthen partnership, leaders should develop from both sides. Partnership at local level is important

PUBLIC INFORMATION AND EDUCATION to reduce disaster: Work with govt on education and awareness on safety through songs, drama etc

UNDERSTAND RISK AND CONDUCT ASSESSMENT: Give vulnerability mapping and education a priority

COLLECT THE EXPERIENCE OF WOMEN LEADERS IN DRR

GLOBAL VISION for LOCAL ACTION: Focus on local action. Learning exchanges should be promoted globally. Leadership, organizational power, vision of women leaders is more important to take it forward.

–          Swayam Shikshan Prayog, 2013

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Rukmila Wankhade: learning and doing

Rukmila is an active women leader who does different type of agriculture in her own land shows other community women that if we control resources and gain knowledge, it is possible to change our mindset and implement innovative ideas.

She belongs to Paardi Arsha village, well known for agriculture products. The entire community involved in farming. Their products go to various cities like Hyderabad, Chandrapur, Ahmedpur etc.

Rukmila Wankhade is an ordinary woman like others in this village;  is a member of  Yakvira SakhthiSHG. But what makes her different now is that she is a frontline leader who implements innovative ideas and practices in traditional agriculture.

How did she start?

When SSP visited this village, they mobilized  the community to do systematic farming activities that reduce chemical fertilizers, pesticides and increase more production to sustain in difficult climatic conditions.

Rukmila was part of the team of women who participated in an awareness programme organized by SSP. The team went on a field visit to Thurnala village where farmers have started producing vermin compost. Rukmila became interested to make this natural fertilizer and to try it in her own land. When she came back from the visit, she started small vermi compost in her compound. She has produced three quintals of vermin compost three times since March 2010. It took three months for the waste to turn into manure. She used it in half an acre of land where she was cultivating tomato. When she harvested the tomatoes and consumed it, she saw the difference in quality.  Motivated by the result, she has increased the area  from half an acre to one acre and also enlarged the size of the pit to increase the production of such compost. She has 10 acres of agriculture land. But she has started organic farming in half acre initially and has increased it to an acre now. She plans to cultivate Soyabean and thoor dal and to convert larger area into organic farming.  Except marketing, she does all the other agricultural operations.

There is a traditional marketing system in the village. The people call different markets over phone to find out the rates and assess which city has good rate on that day. They take the product in vehicles and go to that city  and sell the product directly. There is no middleman in between, so the profit is directly shared by the producers.

After this success more women came forward to start the organic farming from this village. Many people from neighbouring villages visited Rukmila’s farm and were motivated by her effort. She encourages the community and urges them to join in this initiative.

Earlier her husband was not supportive for this venture as he presumed it will not  yield much profit. After seeing the result of good quality of product, and the increasing demand in the market for organic products, he also wants to start organic farming in other varieties like cauli flower, cabbage etc.

– Swayam Shikshan Prayog, February 2012

Partnership with local government: The Case of Paardi village, Nanded, Maharashtra

Pardi village has a good learning in local development due to strong partnership within the  women’s group and local Panchayat. The Panchayat President Mr. Tikle is one of the main supporters for women’s initiatives; he understands and respects their skills and knowledge.

Mr.Tikle has been the President for the last 10 years showed other villages that major involvement of women groups in development activities makes  a difference. He respects women community and involves them in decision-making in local development.

Mapping and follow-up actions

When women groups conducted hazard and vulnerability mapping in May 2011, they identified several problems and issues that can be solved by local Panchayat. During the mapping local Panchayat members were also present. The groups listed their priorities with local Panchayat to solve the issues. The Panchayat and women’s groups discussed the problem one by one and found solutions for most of them.

The village has improved in toilet construction activity leading to a 30% increase in the number of toilets in the last one year thanks to SHGs which created awareness  on the issue in the community and mobilised BPL families to access the government subsidy for the purpose. Now 80% households have a toilet attached to their homes and they use it. They are working towards transforming their village into a cent percent free of open defecation in the coming year.

Women’s group also identified the risks students face because of the roads that are running on both sides of the school causing accidents. They solved this problem by shifting the students to one side of the road. They also constructed humps to slow down the vehicles.

Electricity: They have identified 37 houses which do not have electricity connection in one pocket. The groups discussed with Panchayat.  Their plan to get connection for the all households  is under progress.

Wells: By accessing Government programmes the community got 43 wells for the village. 17 wells are already constructed and 25 wells are waiting.

Cremation ground: There was no cremation ground to bury the dead. In MREGA programme ground has been sanctioned.

Meeting hall: A Meeting hall had been sanctioned by the Zilla Parishad (district level elected body) but the budget was low. So the Panchayat has re-submitted the plan with revised budget and the people are waiting for approval.

Non formal education: Women’s group noted that the 20 odd boys are working in hotels in Loha do not attend schools and decided to provide them non-formal education in the evening time with support from local educated youths.

Social Marriage: The Panchayat organise collective marriages to reduce the costs and time significantly. They hire a marriage hall in same day for marriages that happens on the same or consecutive days.  People cooperate without any caste barriers.  Since the participants for the marriages are mostly the same people, it is a good example set by local Panchayat.

Old houses: They also identified four dilapidated houses which are threat to villagers as they may collapse at any time. They asked the owners to demolish them and they agreed.

Tree plantation: The number of trees was decreasing day by day in the village. To find a solution to this problem, women’s groups in partnership with the local Panchayat planted 2500 saplings using the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) under which job seekers  are paid irrespective of gender Rs.100/-  per day’s work. Thus this group is making an effective contribution towards mitigating climate improvement using available resources.

Water conservation: They did not get enough water for 12 months for farming and so the yield of Kharif  (monsoon) crops was less  were affected. Now they are planning conservation of ponds and other water bodies by improving and maintaining by community.

Organic initiatives: Due to high usage of chemical fertilisers the agricultural productivity has declined and the fertility level of the land is low. Now the community is planning to start organic agriculture after getting training from Krishi Vigyan Kendra. Twenty five women are ready to use this method to cultivate jowar, thur and vegetables in one acre each.

Since the year 2008 itself there have been a few SHGs who doing organic farming for vegetables. They want to expand their acreage after obtaining further training and accessing more resources. Taking advantage of a Government scheme, they also want to purchase cows, goat and ox for income generation which will also give dung to generate compost for the agriculture.

In Paardi village, 43 women are engaged in vegetable cultivation and marketing including  10 landless women. Earlier these landless women used to purchase vegetables from Loha market and sell in neighbouring villages. After becoming members of the agriculture group, these women  purchase vegetables from 33 women who grow vegetables organically and take a share in the profit the next day. They do not travel to or buy from the market.

Ring Road: The unique success of this Panchayat is the construction of a ring road that connects all 8 villages in the Gram Panchayat using MGNREGS. You will never find a ring road in other rural areas. But due to community cooperation and will power of the Panchayat President, with manual labour contributed by women’s groups, this road became a reality and many people are admiring it. It helps to speed up the development of the village.

Bund and drainage: The Panchayat constructed a nine kms. bund to prevent water flowing out of village and use for agricultural  purpose.  So the water can be used for agriculture purpose. For this, a 70 hectare drainage was straightened to allow free flow of water to their agriculture fields.

Teaching other villages and community: Many people including Gram Panchayat members from within the district and from several other districts (Hizoli, Parbani, Washim, Osmanabad, Yevatmal),   and Government officials visit this village to see the working of Paardi Gram Panchayat and community cooperation for development.  The President of Paardi Panchayat, Mr.Tikle  has also given training to Panchayat Presidents at Collectorate.

– Swayam Shikshan Prayog, February 2012

Women bring changes in agriculture

Krishi dooths (agriculture information assistants) are making small waves in agriculture villages in Washim.

The SSP survey of the selected 5 villages in 2010, found that there is a need to usher in a set of new agricultural practices in order to increase the production and reduce investment. Therefore, SSP facilitated partnership with Agricultural University, Akola to train community on new practices and techniques in agriculture.

After the training, SSP started agriculture information centres in villages that provide information to farmers. There are a total 18 dooths based in 25 villages in Washim district.  Each dooth targets an average 500 households. They are slowly changing the mind set of the farmers to adopt a more sustainable and environment friendly practices and are attempting to convert the farming community away from the existing harmful practices that impact the environment.

Krishi dooths instil confidence among farmers on the benefits of new farming practices. These messengers are real agriculture practitioners who teach the other farmers, benefits of friendly pests, use of bio-pesticides, steps in seed preparation, soil testing, timing for sowing and ways to reduce the use of  chemical pesticides and to optimize the efficient use of appropriate chemical fertilizers and give them information on available government schemes. Sangeetha and Varsha are women Krishi dooths who started their work in February 2010. They organise weekly meetings for the above purpose.

Now the community knows about pesticides and fertilisers that are cost effective and less harmful.  This kind of consumer education will prevent the shop keepers cheating people for more profit. Farmers now demand specific products from the shop keepers.

Krishi dooths also organise exposure visits to villages and agriculture extension centres to learn more advanced practices. When they did an impact survey after 6 months in villages, it found that atleast Rs 5000 reduction in expenditure in farming by per farmer from one crop.

– Swayam Shikshan Prayog, February 2012

Adopt Innovative Agricultural Practices

Devsingha village is five kms.  from Tuljapur town in Osmanabad district of Maharashtra. It is witnessing not only the emergence of women farmers but their eco-friendly innovations in cultivation. Like other rural communities, traditional agriculture is their main livelihood. Most of the households own small pieces of land. Their livelihood depends on land, climate, limited resources and market. This community has shown that collective work with Gram Panchayats and local administration is essential to pool local capacities to identify and solve local problems and to bring about some enduring impact.

Background
For the last 10 years, the community has had less rain and has suffered water scarcity. The use of costly chemical fertilizers and pesticides along with market variations in product price have contributed to degradation of land and low productivity. Thus farming is a business of high investment and low returns. Unexpected weather conditions, lack of information and training on new methods to cope with climate risk are some of the problems faced by the community.

The Women’s Federation (henceforth referred to as the Federation) in Tuljapur organized a meeting of SHGs of this village to understand the vulnerabilities and resources of the village which led the women to undertake a hazard mapping in May 2011. Community leaders, SHG members, youth and Panchayat members participated in the mapping process. It was decided that local problems should be taken up with elected Panchayat and government officials to solve them and also initiate their own remedies.  The Table below presents the details of their deliberations.

Table: 1

Problems and Priorities of the People of Devsingha village

Problems

Priorities

  • Many trees have been cut and no new saplings have been planted
  • Houses do not have safety features and strength
  • Land has become less productive
  • Shortage of water
  • There is no water harvesting system in the village
  • Farmers depend on single cash crop. Village agriculture does not address local food security and nutrition. Thus, despite being a farming community, they to buy vegetables from outside market, thus their expenses increase.
  • Vulnerable to diseases due to unsafe drinking water
  • Community practice of open defecation that impairs personal hygiene and causes disease, environmental pollution
  • Promote low cost organic farming, create local inputs, adopt new technologies
  • Address labour issues by sharing the work with women’s groups
  • Start with small pieces of land of people who are interested
  • Slowly expand the areas and varieties that are required for local communities
  • Change the crop pattern according to the availability  of water (increasing number of farmers have resorted to sugar cane cultivation which is highly water intensive in the entire Latur district which has eight sugar mills)
  • Demolish the old bridge and build new one for safe travel
  • Construct a road to agricultural field should be to facilitate movement of people, cows and buffaloes and agricultural equipment.
  • Improve infrastructure at the health sub centre

As can be seen in the above Table, agricultural problems are prominent, although demolishing the old bridge to build a new one, constructing a proper road to the farms, open defecation, felling of trees, water pollution figure in the list of problems identified. Hence, the Federation encouraged the SHGs to form a Krishi Mahila Mandal or KMM (Women’s Agriculture Group) to think and act collectively on agrarian concerns.

Krishi Mahila Mandal

In June 2010, Krishi Mahila Mandal was formed with 17 women members to address various issues in cultivation, labour and marketing on a collective basis. Each member contributed Rs. 50 per month towards Krishi Mahila Mandal savings. They used this money to give small loans to members for purchasing seeds, preparation of land, buying motor and irrigation pipes, etc.

Krishi Mahila Mandal held monthly meetings to deliberate on ensuring family food security. They dealt with the following:

  • What they can do collectively to reduce the cost and increase productivity in agriculture
  • Methods of traditional seed  preparation and cultivation of different crops
  • Which crops can be cultivated with organic manure.
  • How to get control of land for women to cultivate required pulses, oil seeds and cereals.
  • How to develop a demonstration plot for learning
  • How to do inter-cropping to get additional income and protect the soil without any  extra investment.
  • Share their experience of  increasing the productivity with low costs to other communities

Since they were practicing the traditional and harmless way of farming 20 years back, they are aware of the benefits of organic farming. However, technical knowledge is required from experts for improving the productivity of the land (soil testing, application of appropriate nutrients to overcome deficiencies and to identify the appropriate crop for the type of soil), for crop diversification, etc. For the purpose, the Federation connected KMM to Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) at Tuljapur, Agricultural University at Parbhani and to the Department of Agriculture.

Training and capacity building

The Krishi Vigyan Kendra provided training to women’s groups on preparation of the land, soil testing and preparation, selection and timing for sowing of seeds, the benefits of organic farming, production of organic compost and pest control.

Land preparation is important before sowing the seeds. In the training conducted by KVK, 25 women farmers from 10 villages took part to learn the importance of internal mulching, use of water and selection of seeds according to the land quality.

In the training module on soil testing, women learnt how to prepare the soil, which soil is good for various type of vegetables and how to take the soil sample to send to KVK for testing. KVK would analyze the content of the soil and indicate which nutrient is high or low and based on the findings, it will advise the community to use specific organic fertilizer to increase the fertility.

The farmers were sowing seeds two to three times without any plan. Due to erratic rain pattern these seeds did not often germinate.  Through the training women have learnt how to prepare organic seeds, which are the appropriate bio-fertilisers, how to preserve the seeds till the time of sowing and when and how to sow the seeds.  This way, they are saving seeds, labour and money.  They are now aware of effective nutrition supplements like Cruz, acetobacter and PSB to obtain good result. They themselves are preparing  seeds for their own cultivation which saves cost, reduces dependency on the market and increases the production.  They have prepared seeds of green gram, millet, black gram, Bengal gram, wheat, chilly, onion, coriander and garlic.

The community has a large number of cattle and so plenty of dung was available. Besides,  agricultural waste was not put to any use and was merely dumped around the village. KVK advised KMK women to prepare organic compost, using the agricultural waste mixed with appropriate quantity of cow dung. Now they are using this compost for cultivating vegetables in own lands.

Pest control workshop was organized by Agricultural University for 40 farmers.  The participants learnt that if the pests are in early stage they should do some treatment with help of organic pest control.  If farmers are not able to identify the pest, they should contact the University.

With this set of comprehensive farm management training inputs, the KMM launched their farming. One of the members, Mahananda Bhosle, has undergone various training programmes on organic farming organized for the group; started vegetable cultivation in organic manner in one acre of her own land. She prepares her own seeds, uses organic fertilizer and bio-pesticides. Bhosle took a loan for starting farming, took to inter-cropping, makes three crops a year; and makes a profit of Rs.10,000 to 15,000 per harvest.  She was a key motivator and with the other members of KMM to start this eco-friendly approach. Ms.Bhosle led from the front and encouraged women to contribute labour and seeds together in the group. KMM was active in bringing new knowledge and partnership with specialized organizations. This paved the way of to get recognition among male farmers who have concentrated on single cash crops. Since Ms. Bhosle was successful in preparing seeds for her own farm according to the methods taught by the KVK, the latter has made her an offer  to buy seeds from her and promote it if her seeds are good and yield more. Ms. Bhosle was interviewed by All India Radio and by describing her experience, requested the listeners to adopt her way of farming and marketing.

Mahananda Bhosle

The women members of KMM now cultivate vegetables in three seasons, they have introduced inter-cropping method that gives extra income  prepare vermin-compost to reduce the cost instead of buying harmful fertilizers from the market encourage on bio pesticides etc.

After their success, KMM women want to bring more women to adopt these innovations. They have started awareness programme for the new members.  The membership of KMM has grown from 17 to 50. Ten of the new members are landless women. They want to take land on lease to start farming. Anita Jadav, one of the members got a profit of Rs.12000 to 20,000 from each of the harvest of three crops from one acre of her land on which she adopted these innovations. She uses her own labour and takes assistance from the group.

Collective labour

To reduce cost of labour, members help each other in their fields. They work closely and share their labour days among the members. This way they address scarcity of workers in the villages and save money by doing the work by themselves. With years of experience in agriculture, they are very knowledgeable and are hard working.

Earlier they were doing sugar cane or pulses as single crops. To address the risk of changing weather conditions, they have started inter crop such sugar cane fields with pulses, turmeric and vegetables etc.

Collective Marketing

Women do the marketing collectively. They hire a vehicle to go to market in Latur and other villages to sell their produce. Every day, the vehicle brings them and their goods take from the village and drops them in various neighbouring villages. After the selling, they would all come to the same spot where they were dropped and the vehicle will bring them back to the village. In a day, they travel about 30 to 40 km to sell their products. In this manner, they have sold coriander leaves, chilly, tomato, brinjal, bitter gourd, ladies finger etc.

The organic vegetable product has a good demand in Tuljapur weekly market. Since many people know the benefit and goodness of these special vegetables, they are able to sell them at one or two Rupees per kilo more than the ‘modern’ agricultural produce.

Benefits

Earlier they used to buy from shops who promote the products. After the training from KVK the community has which is harmless and how much they needed to avoid chemical pesticides etc. Even those who have not moved to organic farming, send their soil sample for testing and demand and specify the fertiliser they want. Slowly they want to reduce the use of chemical pesticides and convert whole land into organic. It may take some years; it takes time for such ideas to get adopted; it is a process. The other benefit of organic farming is the investment is low due to locally made organic fertilisers and seeds. The return is also good in terms of production, weight and price in the market.  With chemical fertilizers, the production is more but expense is high and in organic expense is less and production is also high. They use organic vegetables at home produced in their own land. Earlier they used to purchase vegetables from outside market. Now they cultivate pulses apart from vegetables for their own use with organic input.

“The organic product gives you more life, you feel energetic and healthy. You can do what ever work you want, eat tasty food, get extra income and happy life”, says Anit Jadav.

“We experienced illness like diarrhea, stomach pain and feeling weak while using vegetables that use pesticides. After eating our own good food we feel full of energy”, avers  Archana Bosle

“After two years profit will further increase and we will expand the cultivation into more areas”, asserts  Aradhana.

Challenges and outcomes

  • Some of the small and big farmers are keeping their own land waste and migrating to urban cities for daily wages
  • Most of the farmers cultivating without a proper plan.
  • Agricultural input cost keeps on rising
  • Climate change i.e. unexpected drought and heavy rains are big challenges

In the beginning they do not get support from families and often discouraged by husbands saying that the production and profit through organic farming  will be low. Earlier they have been doing only single cash crop. Women members have shown through their pilot demonstration field project  the facts to them and have convinced. After seeing the success in farming and marketing by women groups, they are also thinking moving into organic farming.

Lessons and learning by women groups

  • Learned about the agricultural challenges and climate change effects
  • Understood difference between organic and chemical farming
  • Women got involved in planning, sowing seeds, cultivating and selling
  • Gained control over income from the agriculture through vegetable cultivation
  • Started to do soil to reduce the input cost
  • Learnt to reuse the agricultural waste for making compost
  • Processed and prepared local seeds to reduce the cost and improve the quality

Demands from the community

  • There should be a government fixed price for Jowar, Tur and other pulses
  • Training by KVK should be expanded to all villages
  • Government and KVK should provide information on organic importance in three seasons
  • Information on agricultural schemes should be provided
  • Need to set up separate market and special price for organic products
  • Required Information and knowledge on seeds that can survive climate risk
  • Existing agricultural practice should adapt new ways to cope global warming
  • Financial assistance for alternative agriculture
  • Needed Milk dairy in the village
  • Tool kit and  other equipment should be given at discounted rat
  • Electricity is needed for the whole farming time
  • More discount and special schemes poor farmers
  • Want to expand vegetable production to market and increase their incomes

 Other Actions Taken:

 The women’s groups

  • Have started maintenance work on the old bridge to reduce vulnerability
  • Are monitoring the basic services
  • Are linked with the Gram Panchayat and are mobilizing resources for agricultural land, farm road development and water harvesting
  • Have launched an awareness campaign for open-defecation-free villages with support from the Government
  • KMM members have been trained in water testing for its fitness for human consumption and have been provided a kit by the Government for the purpose. Women have started boiling the water for drinking and keeping it in pots covered with a lid; some are also using  medichlore
  • Are keen to plant saplings
  • Have started planting crops that consume less water and introduced inter-crop method

Scaling up:

The Federation facilitated the partnership with Krishi Vidyan Kendra, Government Agricultural University and Animal Husbandry Department. These institutions provided both training and support to motivate women group to start organic farming. Women farmers and the  Federation leaders have created training calendar for the year 2012. KVK itself has developed a plan to reach out to the entire district.

SSP team had two meetings with the Director of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Osmanabad district on SSP’s partnership with them on building a robust knowledge base and eco-system support. A link is also being build up with National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD) to get support for the existing vegetable cultivation groups.

Swayam Shikshan Prayog, February 2012

Rapid Assessment: Thane cylone affected villages, Cuddalore Tamilnadu

Thane Cyclone

Cyclone Thane hit Tamil Nadu coast on 29th and 30th of December 2011 destroyed houses, boats, standing crops, livestock and livelihoods. As per the Government sources the cyclone killed 35 people.  The storm brought wind speeds of up to 135 kmph (83 mph) and tidal surges reaching 1.5 metres (5 feet) which forced coastal fishing and farming communities into relief shelters set up in schools.

The Impact
Deaths in Cuddalore occurred mainly due to electrocution, falling of trees and collapse of house or walls. A large number of cows, goats and buffaloes were killed in many villages. Trees, lamp posts and electric poles were uprooted, hand-pumps and bore wells have been damaged that lead to water scarcity and lack of safe drinking water. Major roads were blocked in almost all areas of Cuddalore district for a whole week.

Need Assessment Visit

After the tsunami disaster, a large number of self help groups of women were actively involved in relief and rehabilitation process. They were also active after Nisha Cyclone in 2006. Subsequently these groups have undergone several training programmes on disaster risk reduction offered by SSP and Groots International. These trained women’s groups came together and formed a Federation to work and offer their knowledge on disaster preparedness and risk reduction on a sustained basis. There are two such Women’s Federations; one in Cuddalore and another at Nagapattinam.

Disaster Task Force: Right after Tsunami 2004, SSP facilitated women groups to form disaster task force in many villages. The first task force team was formed in 2008 with 6 groups of 30 members (15 men and 15 women) in Keelamoovarkarai village, Nagapattinam. The experienced team successfully intervened in Nisha cyclone and other disaster events. Now they are providing training to other village communities to form such task forces. They have given training and formed task force team at Savadikkuppam, Thennampattinam, Kuravaloor, and Vanagiri. Drawing the lesson from Nagapattinam Cuddalore women groups also formed task forces in 4 villages at Akkarappettai, Thazhanguda, Kandankadu and Puthuppettai. The Task Force women members are well experienced in understanding community needs, negotiating with govt, preparing community to reduce risk, train them in search, rescue, warning, and rehabilitation.

On 7th January 2012, the Women’s Federations did needs assessment of living conditions of the affected communities with the support of SSP. The purpose of the visit was to see the impact of cyclone, discuss with affected communities and identify priorities for immediate action. The grassroots team was led by Federation leader Chitra, carried out this exercise in Nochikadu, Singarathoppu, Kandankadu, Tsunami Nagar and Thazhankuda villages.

The assessment team consisted of: Nagapattinam Women’s Federation nominated M.Chitra, B.Gouri, Rani, Maheshwari, Padmavathi and Annalakshimi and Cuddalore Women’s Federation was represented by Mohana and A.Vijaya Lakshmi all of them active community leaders.

The team met affected people, analysed the situation, provided moral strength and confidence especially for women and children. Using the evidence collected, they met with local Panchayat leaders and Government officials to jointly evaluate the response and action taken/planned to rehabilitate the displaced communities.

The families who lived in thatched houses were the most affected. They lost their entire homes and are staying in temporary halls like schools or government buildings. There is no electricity and people face severe drinking water problem. Since all the roads are blocked, basic supplies such as rice, milk, grocery items and vegetable cannot be reached to the affected people.  Due to non-availability of petrol/diesel transportation is at a standstill; buses and lorries were not on the roads.

EARLY WARNING AND PREPAREDNESS

Nochikadu Village: Nochikadu village is totally depends on agriculture. But the Thane cyclone played havoc in the village by uprooting their major cash crop of cashew nut trees. Most of the houses were fully or partially damaged, entire electrical lines and drinking water supply was totally broken. According to a women leader “the village has gone back by 30 years. Now we have to start from the scratch.

Singarathoppu: Singarathoppu, a fishing village near Cuddalore Old Town was worst affected in the cyclone. The Federation members have made several efforts to pass cyclone warning messages “We sent SMS messages and made phone calls to many our group leaders to alert their communities on the cyclone,” said Mohana, leader of Women’s Federation in Cuddalore.  As a result, women, children and the aged were alerted, this saved several lives. But they lost their houses and livelihoods due to heavy wind and rainfall.

Without waiting for the government agencies, Mohana a federation leader with a group of women, evacuated some families from low-lying area in Singarathoppu village. Those who were relocated to government schools and cyclone centre for nearly three days  struggled for basic needs like food, milk and water. Women and young girls were the most vulnerable group due to lack of toilets and privacy in public building.

Kandankadu

People in Kandankadu village were also suffered for basic needs like food, drinking water, transportation etc. Sudha, a women leader from this village has mobilised other SHG members to get basic food materials from NGOs and distributed to people. They also helped to get drinking water.  “The day after the cyclone, our women’s group met the Village Administrative Officer (VAO) and requested for arranging drinking water but we didn’t get any good response from him. So we locked the officer in the room.  We held negotiation with higher officials and after they promised to address the water issues, we released the VAO in the evening.” Said Sudha.

Women’s Federation leaders Rama and Mohana with group of other women helped Cuddalore municipal officials and voluntary organizations to distribute drinking water, food materials in Singarathoppu and Tsunami Nagar villages. They also insisted with the officials to immediately clear trees and electric posts which was lying on the road.

Some of the government officials went to Nochikadu village for damage assessment. But people did not allow them because they came after three full days. Finally they called higher officials and allowed them on 5th day to assess the damage and repair electrical work.

Damages

The following table shows the approximate estimation by women groups in 5 villages

Village

Total houses

 

Totally affected houses

Partially affected
houses

Livestock&Livelihoods

Infrastructure

Kandankadu

250

150

 

Morethan400acrecrop

Loss of Kitchen utensils

18goatsandcows

Many trees were uprooted

Threeborewellsand20handpumpshavecollapsed

Lampposts and wires were lying on the road

Thazhankuda

400

200

Sonankuppam

800

300

200

Singarathoppu

2personsdiedinthisvillage

450

300

100

120boatsdamaged(including S.T.P Boats,I.B boats,Fiber Boats,F.R.B boats)

Nochikadu

550

150

100

20goats,10cows

100handpumpsaredamaged

150Treesareuprooted

 Morethan1000acrecropdamaged

  • All Electricity posts and telephone lines have broken up
  • Most of the trees including coconut trees, jack fruit trees have fallen down
  • Hand pumps have broken or uprooted
  • Kitchen gardens have been washed out

GOVT RELIEF:

We have lost our houses, agriculture crops in the cyclone and it will take nearly 10 years to get yield from cashew nut trees. Government has given us only Five thousand rupees as compensation to rebuild our houses. Truly we are using the relief amount for our daily food expenditure and we dont know what to do after thatsaid Kashturi from Nochikadu village.

The state government has announced relief package to the affected people, as a fully damaged house would able to get Rs. 5000 and Rs. 2500 for partially damaged house. The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister also said that the fishermen will be eligible to get between 20 thousand to Rs.1 lakh depending on the model of damaged vessels. But the government is yet to announce any relief for crop damages.

Two people have died in Singarathoppu village due to wall collapse on the day of the cyclone and the relatives of the victims have received Rs.2 lakh for each person.

Usha Nanthini from Singarathoppu village says, “we have lost our boats and we can’t go for fishing. Government officers came only on third day of cyclone. They promised us compensation for damaged boats but still we are waiting for it. Unless they give compensation we can’t repair out boats and earn livelihood.”

Role of SSP and Women’s Federation

SSP is facilitating post cyclone initiatives in Cuddalore district with Women’s Federation. The women groups are interacting with local authorities, Panchayats and communities in bringing normalcy by addressing the problems of drinking water and food. They are also identifying various livelihood options for the affected community.

The Disaster Task Force formed by Women’s Federation was active in all these villages. Due to the team effort and early warning messaging and alerting people, numerous casualties have been avoided. After this assessment, the team explained the village situation to Municipal Commissioner, VAOs and other government officials. They have made several calls to Collector’s Office to get an update on relief work. Several Federation leaders such as Rama, Mohana, Sudha, Kalavathi and Vanita are involved in relief work with government and NGOs. The team will visit these villages every week to appraise the progress being made.

Recommendations

Immediate:

  • Involve women led disaster task force as volunteers to oversee relief and rehabilitation
  • Afforestation involving women’s groups in planting and maintenance
  • Organise health camps to address problems by women, children and aged
  • Distribute relief according to needs assessment by women’s groups
  • Address drinking water issues
  • Provide basic privacy and sanitation facilities in the temporary shelters
  • Increase the compensation for damaged houses
  • Compensate the farmers who have lost their crops and provide loans at low interests to resume cultivation and business

In one year:

  • Form/strengthen disaster task force in all coastal villages to reduce the risk
  • Provide livelihood support for the affected community
  • Hand over early warning system to community CBOs to manage properly

In a couple of years:

Build permanent houses for all vulnerable communities

– Women’s Federation, Cuddalore/Swayam Shikshan Prayog, 2012

Community Disaster Resilience Fund (CDRF)

INTRODUCTION
The idea of creating a mechanism to channel funds directly to at risk communities for innovative solutions on DRR was crafted at the First Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction held in 2007 at a workshop on implementing the HFA. The promoters -GROOTS International, Huairou Commission and ProVention Consortium decided to pilot the idea of a Community Resilience Fund. In India, the Community Disaster Resilience Fund (CDRF) initiative was formally endorsed by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) at the Second Asian Ministerial Conference on DRR at New Delhi in November 2007. The recently held Global Platform 2009, noted
the increasing gap between local and national/global initiatives. Policies and programs seem to fade out at the community/local level. Among the recommendations were that mechanisms /processes need to be established so that policy mainstream is informed by insights and initiatives at the grassroots, where communities at-risk are located and live on a day-to-day basis. The aim of the CDRF pilot is to demonstrate that vulnerable communities can self identify risks, plan and manage earmarked funds to enhance community resilience by forging effective community and local government partnerships. The CDRF is currently being coordinated by National Alliance for Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction (NAADRR), a network of over 170 NGOs.

The NAADRR has set up a Project Advisory Committee that is chaired by the NDMA of India and includes other institutional partners. The Committee is viewed as a mechanism for feeding lessons and recommendations emerging from local CDRF experiences into state and national level programs with support of the NDMA. The fund is managed by the local CDRF committees, which transfer funds, plan and oversee DRR initiation across 10 -15 communities. Facilitating organizations provide training and advocate for resources with district level administration and PRI.

CDRF supports communities to:

  • Experiment with solutions to address locally identified risks and vulnerabilities.
  • Create local stakeholder platforms that bring grassroots women’s priorities and practices to the national disaster reduction agenda, as well as development programs.
  • Leverage resources for community based organizations from development, DRR and poverty reduction programs.

RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Recognize community and women’s groups as key actors in DRR, rather than as beneficiaries, by investing in and leveraging their experience in disaster preparedness and resilience building.
2. Align DRR programs with poverty reduction and development. Addressing access to basic services (drinking water, health, sanitation) and sustainable livelihoods is critical to vulnerability reduction in poor communities.
3. Provide resources in the hands of community and women’s groups for disaster preparedness and resilience strategies. Community funds, micro credit and social insurance are strategies that create safety net leading to reduction of vulnerability.
4. Recognize and support community and women’s groups as stakeholders and support local partnership and platform for engagement for DRR and development.

These platforms and learning network allow community experience and lessons to inform development plans in a way that addresses local risks and vulnerabilities.