Trans Boundary Disaster Management

Trans Boundary Disaster Management

  1. What is CSR and TAF “Trans-boundary Kosi River Project”?

Centre for Social Research (CSR) is a leader in the Indian Women’s movement and has been working to empower the women and girls of India for the last 30 years. We operate on local, national and regional levels in an effort to enhance the capacities of individuals, communities and institutions for creating a humane, equitable and gender-just society. CSR is experienced in facilitating grassroots programmes and trainings, research and analysis of women’s rights issues, and lobbying and advocacy at the community and policy level. Some of the issues we have addressed include violence against women, pre-natal sex selection, women’s political empowerment ad leadership, women and the economy, and gender sensitization and mainstreaming in all sectors of society.

Disaster is always unpredictable and takes millions of lives and creates a situation where people become helpless. Every year people on the river belt of Kosi affected by floods, and damages take the life and livelihood of millions of people. The community is the first responder of any disaster and develops some traditional coping mechanisms to reduce their vulnerabilities. Such communities live closely in a common territory comprise of women, men, elders, children, youth, students, teachers, local level social leaders, public representatives, government functionaries and grassroots level stake holders..

Many reports and documents talk about the vulnerability of women but we forget the potential of these women to manage the disaster. If they get inputs and their capacity get build they can play significant role in mitigation, coping mechanism, rescue, evacuation and relief with full sincerity. The Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) are constitutionally notified positions and they are accountable for this. Through training if they understand disaster mitigation and life cycle and much other variety of tools to plan for pre and post disaster, they can contribute a lot and it can reduce the effects.

The women in the rural areas have high level of literacy, less access of information, less mobility and inadequate experiences in the public spheres make the situation more difficult for them to involve or engage in disaster mitigation plan, disaster response mechanisms and relief work. Hence, targeting EWR is the best strategy to influence and empower these already existing public representatives to lead steps for managing disaster successfully by planning from their end.

As after the 33% reservation of Women in Panchayati Raj there is mandatory participation and representation, which is clearly link with empowerment. An elected woman representative needs the requisite social space in order to effect the changes that she desires. Reservation for women in Panchayati Raj bodies has acted as a catalyst in the process of women’s political empowerment. In order to further hasten this social change, the Women’s Reservation Bill must become a law without being diluted. Also, the onus is on political parties who must voluntarily integrate more women in the political process whether as candidates or as voters.

CSR recognizes that women are natural leaders and decision-makers. Importance of women’s role in water management is crucial and always existing. At the time of disaster, there is huge participation of women’s groups at community level towards response on environmental disasters. When a disaster occurs, the impact on marginalized women is not taken into consideration at the time of planning the rescue and recovery actions. Therefore, women’s leadership is necessary to achieve social change and progress. We believe that with support and capacity-building women will become strong and effective leaders in water and Disaster management and will support their communities in better adaptation towards climate change.

In this context, CSR proposes capacity building on management of floods through a training program for rural areas on the Kosi river belt considering that it is a high flood prone area, susceptible to deforestation, submergence of embankments and loss of agricultural land, and how all these factors uniquely affect women’s lives –

  • Health and sanitation – with long standing waters for a period of 4-6 months at a row breeds many waterborne diseases and mosquito related illness. Most women do not have access to safe and clean drinking water, and hygiene.
  • Livelihood – since most women at the grassroots work in the fields, look after animal husbandry, when floods hit the low lying banks, these women get economically handicapped and their entire livelihood gets disrupted.
  • Pregnant women and children – even though women at large are affected by floods, pregnant women and children find themselves extremely distressed because of the lack of boats to get across to hospitals and medical facilities.

In lieu of the identified problems, there has been a need to address this issue keeping in mind the provisions of the 73rd Amendment, which is a watershed constitutional provision, despite which women are incapacitated due to gender roles and overarching patriarchal attitudes.

  1. Where are the target areas of the project?

In collaboration with The Asia Foundation, our focus area of working towards civil society and community engagement on trans-boundary water issues in Supaul and Saharsa district; Bihar and Sunsari and Saptari district; Nepal has been to improve the lives of communities, especially of vulnerable groups, especially women who are affected by yearly floods by enhancing women’s participation in local governance and decision making process, and reduce disaster risks and potential losses from natural hazards.

  1. Why conducting Disaster Training in these areas?

Key Problems Identified

  • Ignorance of schemes and policies of women which make them ill-equipped to access relief and rescue funds
  • Inadequate women representation in the local areas which are unable to deal with local disaster
  • Lack of presence in Gram Sabha meetings
  • Less participation in planning at the community level on disaster issues
  • Decision-making which is influenced by male members of these elected women or male members with higher authorities.

In view of these problems, the work that we focus on is engaging with the local women who are involved at the local governance level to further strengthen their foundation in Nepal, and in Bihar go a step ahead so that they can contest at the Panchayat Raj and in turn aid in the process of making women’s groups to put relief in their primary program agenda.

  1. How we are going to provide our expert support?
  1. Inception Visit: Situational Analysis in Bihar and Nepal- CSR conducted an inception visit to Bihar and Nepal, which included field survey and meeting with the stakeholders, Anganwadi workers and other active women leaders in Bihar and in Nepal from political units, grass root extension workers and other active women community leaders.
  2. Conducting Training Needs Assessment is a systematic process of building understanding on the existing gaps between the current situation and the desired one in Bihar and Nepal.
  3. Preparation of a TOT Manual and Module to build the skills of the participants – Elected Women Representatives (EWR) in taking leadership role in conducting the trainings a Training Manual is planned to be used as ready reference material for the participants and to further conduct the trainings in their area, which can be used as a model of replication.
  4. Conducting Four Three days Training of Trainers in Bihar & Nepal where the objective of holding the training of trainers is to spread awareness on Gender, Governance and Flood Management with focus on pre and post disaster management issues amongst variety of community leaders. 
  1. Conducting One Common Three days Residential Training of Trainer for Selected participants from Bihar and Nepal where in the purpose of holding one common Joint Dialogue- TOT is to bring together all the selected active women leaders on a common platform for learning the various training methods and useful for participants to share their learning and experiences. 
  1. Handholdings- Knowledge Sharing and dissemination of Information by the participants who will further share the learning’s from the training at community level, with their co-workers, government officials such as Panchayat secretary in Bihar and Village development Commissioners in Nepal.
  2. Review & Impact Assessment will be conducted by CSR, which will hold meetings and identify local trainers along with village level women leaders and stakeholders to receive feedback from the trained participants on their learning’s and challenges. A One day consultation will bring together all the stake-holders so that all the learning from the project is shared and the Training Module will be launched.

The project Brief

Objectives
Following are the objectives of the project which tries to fulfil the need of knowledge and capacity building, creating active leaders and change makers at the local level for collective action and awareness about Government schemes and policies

  • To build capacities of Active Women Leaders from the political groups of both the countries on influencing local Governance in right way of handling Trans-boundary issue with focus on pre-post flood related issues.
  • To create a grassroots level women cadre leaders to handle issues along with sharing it in extended villages.
  • To aware local women stakeholders about government schemes and policies related to trans-boundary.

Output

  1. To build capacities of Active women leaders through training on pre and post flood (disaster) management issues already been identified in their locale. In total, 194 local women leaders were trained. Results of the hand-holdings in Bihar covered a sum total of 2332, and 2050 in Nepal.
  2. To formulate discussions and sharing of existing knowledge between the women groups already existing in villages working on flood management, pave the way for direction in the creation of Women Disaster Committee (WDC) in districts where they are absent, and empowering Women Leaders at local level for flood management on pre and post stage of flood (disaster) planning and preparedness. There are 2 such committees formed in two Panchayats of Bihar, and five others initiated and 5 formed in Nepal.
  3. To make Local Women Stakeholders aware on government schemes and polices respectively with involvement of government officials and other local stakeholders with full support of our local NGO partners in Bihar and Nepal and further empower them to influence local level governance on flood issues.

Assessment

The trainings in the chosen areas are to benefit the community for larger gender management and capacity building of these Elected Women Representatives. In Bihar, for example, it was a common observation that there was a lack of information circulated among women; it was by large limited to men. Secondly, the women at the Panchayats level, decision making is still with the male members of her family. On the other hand, in Nepal, even though women are more actively involved in governance, their decision making is again influenced by the men who hold positions of power at top level management.

The goal in Bihar is the need to spread advocacy and importance of the devolution of power through the 73rd Amendment, and the inclusion of women to become influential decision makers to help the local women to tackle problems. Whereas in Nepal, the focus is to provide the local women in the municipality and village development committees to be strong-willed to making decisions by themselves.

From the review and feedback assessment of the project by two externally hired consultants, a total of 150 people filled up questionnaires, with visits to 9 villages including focus group discussions and one to one experience sharing. Similarly, the same was followed in Nepal too with visits to 5 villages and along with a flood rehabilitation camp to engage with people who were not a part of the trainings or hand-holdings to assess the impact of the floods through loss and destruction in comparison to those who have benefitted from the knowledge and advocacy through the trainings imparted through the project.

The formation of the committees is seen as imperative from the sustainability point of view in its own unique way as it paves way for women to be decision makers all over again, despite male patronage in the field. Further, since these committees are composed of women only, it sets a model example for the continuation of such trainings and strengthening of these committees.