India : Community Disaster Resilience Fund

The Community Disaster Resilience Fund (CDRF) is a mechanism to direct resources for disaster risk reduction (DRR) to vulnerable communities.  The National Alliance for Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction, a network of 170 organisations working with local communities, coordinates the fund and aims to bridge community experience with disaster risk management, climate change adaptation and to develop policies at all levels in India.

The fund aims to:

  • show that a funding mechanism can promote a decentralised, pro-poor community-driven approach to DRR
  • develop the capacity of local communities to identify their vulnerabilities and how they can reduce associated risks
  • improve understanding of community resources and resilience initiatives
  • generate lessons and resources, and form partnerships to ensure that community-led disaster resilience priorities are met.
The initiative was launched in eight states: Assam, Bihar, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarkhand, Gujarat, and Rajasthan. Communities seen as the most vulnerable to disasters and facing multiple hazards were selected for the pilot project. These hazards include annual floods, flash floods, tsunami waves, cyclones, droughts, heat waves, earthquakes, and groundwater salinity.

Communities identified a wide range of issues during mapping exercises including: the need to place water pumps and sanitation facilities on higher ground away from flood water levels, the need for safe and flood-resistant housing; and the need to find alternative livelihood strategies given that farming is so vulnerable to devastation from extreme weather events. Stronger community resilience would also require:

  • better strategies to prepare for disaster
  • early warning and emergency response measures
  • stronger community resilience practices – regarding health services, and sanitation and drinking water facilities, in particular.

The project resulted in some impressive examples for DRR and community-based adaptation initiatives in several states, including the story of Bihar, outlined below.

Living with floods in Bihar
Communities in five villages in Darbanga district, Bihar, have formed disaster task forces, which include women and men, to work out how they can cope with recurrent flooding. The villages – Molaganj, Kharatia, Jamalchak, Ranipur and Alinagar – were selected because they suffer from flooding more than others. Flood water enters these villages first and stay there for the longest time– up to three months, resulting in the loss of food, seeds, fodder, grains, agricultural produce, livestock, medicines, documents, and most importantly, livelihoods. Many people live below the poverty line and caste divisions prevail.

Kanchan Seva Asharam, a local NGO, encouraged the formation of the task forces and trained participants. Twenty five new self-help groups in two villages now have seed funding, which they are increasing by lending on to member groups who can then lease land for growing vegetables. The groups also have community grain banks. A longer term aim is to establish links between the village level task forces and disaster management authorities and other government departments.

Recommendations

  • Government, NGOs, and private entities need to recognise the important role that women and community groups can play in DRR activities. Building on existing local  knowledge and experience in coping with disaster will help communities build resilience.
  • DRR programmes must be aligned with poverty reduction, income generation, and sustainable development initiatives.
  • Community-level disaster preparedness and resilience strategies need to be used as resources and starting points in creating social safety nets.
 

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