Highly disaster prone, Uttarakhand is a state that faces earthquakes, landslides and flash floods. While state level mechanisms were in place, the utter dependence on these meant that the local sustainability of disaster management plans was an issue. There was a need to begin decentralising disaster management and put a focus on strengthening lifeline buildings like schools and hospitals.
How we helped:
In 2009, a programme began across the Landour and Herbertpur blocks of Dehradun. It covered 10 villages, 10 schools and 2 well- known hospitals in the area. Working with the Emmanuel Hospital Association, it was a first attempt to link the different entities in an integrated DRR model.
The schools became a hub for disaster reduction activities such as village watching. The hospitals served as centres for disaster response and preparedness. On-site and off-site activities in both locations created horizontal linkages with the neighbouring communities. Task forces were set up in areas such as first aid, fire safety and search and rescue, while separate volunteer groups worked on advocacy, awareness and action.
The ideas of ‘mainstreaming DRR’ into health and education was at the centre of advocacy with government officials.
Vulnerable groups such as women and the differently-abled were paid special attention in the structural designs and disaster management plans.
The last leg of this project saw some interesting developments such as students taking the lead to sensitise their parents and peers from other schools. An integrated mock drill, combining schools, hospitals and the local community was successfully conducted to put the newly acquired knowledge into action.
Leaving a mark
The project covered advocacy for 5,300 government officials, policy level stakeholders, civil society and DRR practitioners. It raised awareness among 12,350 students, teachers and school staff; trained 200 healthcare workers; and involved 280 volunteers and staff from local NGOs and CBOs. By creating local alliances and tacit understandings, it was a beginning for a culture of safety.