Saharsa showcases an exemplary example of functioning of Community- led Early Warning System
Recently the nation witnessed the Bihar state government prepare to tackle the Flood situation likely to arise in nine districts of Bihar, due to release of 28 lakh cusecs of water accumulated in a lake-like formation caused by massive landslide in river Bhatta Kosi on the Nepal side, into the Kosi embankments in India. On the other hand an exemplary example of functioning of Community-led disaster preparedness was witnessed recently in Saharsa District of Bihar. Ten hamlets located in Biratpur and Atalka Gram Panchayat in Sonbarsa block of Saharsa District, situated in kosi embankment are extremely vulnerable to floods. The district which was on high alert for Floods as Nepal was likely to release excess water accumulated due to landslide, into the Kosi river. In 2008, the release of excess water into Kosi had resulted in major floods in the region leading to killing hundreds of people and displacing around 30 lakh people. The incident also brought wide scale destruction of agriculture over 8 lakh acres of land. However this time the situation was different: Community was more informed and prepared to face floods, with major aim to have no loss of lives. Under the Flood Resilient Environmentally Enhanced Disaster Management (FREEDM) project, being implemented by SEEDS with support from Lutheran World Relief, a disaster Preparedness System is established within the community in the 10 hamlets.
As soon as the first piece of information on likely hood of floods was received by the community as part of the Early Warning systems put in place, Disaster Management Committees formed in each of these 10 hamlets became active and called upon emergency meetings to decide on the plan of action with the major aim of ensuring no loss of lives. A clear line of communication was established wherein the heads of each DMC who were part of Disaster management coordination committee at block (Sonbarsa) level became active. The DMCC established communication with the Community Forum that was formed at District level in Saharsa. The Saharsa Community Forum gathered information from District authorities and pass it on to the DMCC. SEEDS facilitated establishment of the linkages in this communication flow.