The monsoon season of 2017 wreaked havoc across the Himalayan region and the Northeast part of the country. The states of Assam, Bihar, Gujarat and West Bengal were some of the worst hit. Concerns were raised over the threat of water borne diseases, safe drinking water, shelters and schools.
How we helped
SEEDS created an overall plan that focused on immediate relief with health camps and non-food item kits; and early recovery through school, shelter and water initiatives.
Basic health and hygiene
Basic hygiene kits ensure affected families can cope with dignity. 2150 kits were distributed across seven gram panchayats of Saharsa district in Bihar.
Catering to the most affected and vulnerable populations, SEEDS also set up mobile medical camps in the affected regions. This mobility meant it could relocate daily based on the needs. Families were given free medical consultations and issued basic and specialist medicines on case to case basis. In Saharsa, Bihar, the camps covered six villages, reaching out to over 600 patients. In Dhanera, Gujarat, the camps reached 363 people across Dhanera town, Lavara and Dughava.
Terra filters for safe water
SEEDS’ earlier interventions in Saharsa district had also looked at the challenges of contaminated water in this area. A solution that would treat the excessive iron content, turbidity and contamination! Keeping all these factors in mind, terra filters has already proven to be a viable solution. It was decided to expand the impact with seven more in South Mahishi block.
The filters were designed by SEEDS in cohesion with community needs and optimum utilisation of space. Each filter was uniquely designed based on the site specifics, and user requirements. The clay discs themselves were selected by a team of specially trained SEEDS mobilisers to ensure quality; and then transported in wooden containers to avoid damage. Elevated platforms were designed considering the recurrent flooding.
WaSH committees of women were formed at all seven locations. They were trained on the use of terra filters, as well as precautions to be taken to ensure safe water consumption. They also took the lead on hygiene awareness campaigns.
Transitional homes in Assam and West Bengal
In Golaghat District in Assam, studies were carried out to ascertain possible flood levels in the various locations where houses were to be rebuilt. Accordingly, appropriate high stilts made of reinforced concrete and firm foundations were created. The houses were built by local artisans using bamboo that grows abundantly in the area.
The use of materials, all sourced from within a 6-km radius, made the programme truly local, increasing sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint. All of these translated into time, money and assets saved; and learning left behind.
While the mainstay of the rehabilitation program was to implement flood resistant shelters in the district, the approach of looking at the broader housing ecosystem – particularly with regard to water, sanitation and hygiene – ensured a positive impact on health as well
In Ranichak and Nischintpur gram panchayats of West Bengal, the transitional shelter design underwent much change. The community wanted concrete columns be used, a suggestion with both cost and procurement implications. XXXXX shelters were built, giving the most vulnerable families a place to call home.
Temporary bamboo schools in Assam and renovated schools in Gujarat
SEEDS’ bamboo designs for three temporary leaning centres in Golaghat were quick-to-construct, yet child-friendly and sturdy. They also incorporated disaster risk reduction elements such as seismic safety and flood resilience. Children kits were also distributed to the 500 students, helping get back to a routine.
In Banaskantha district, Gujarat, we narrowed down on three schools where classrooms and sanitation units required major repair. The renovation included strengthening against future disasters, and the addition of a multi-purpose room in one of the schools.
Leaving a mark
When floods hit Assam again in 2018, the waters rose higher than usual. Yet, the features incorporated into the transitional homes helped them stay strong and above the water level, even after being submerged for several days. For the 81 families in Nikori village, they have prevented them from getting caught in a recurrent cycle of devastation.