Fata Begum in front of her house damaged by floods in Pulwama district Photo: Srikanth Kolari/ActionAid
Heavy and incessant rains for over a week in September 2014 caused massive floods in Jammu and Kashmir, submerging significant portions of Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama, Baramulla, Bandipora and Srinagar districts. ActionAid India (AAI) carriedout a rapid assessment to assess the severity of damage caused and to find out the prevailing needs of the people affected.
In collaboration with our allies – Human Welfare Foundation and Jammu and Kashmir Yateem Trust, our team visited most of the affected villages in the six severely affected districts. It was found that the deluge had damaged shelters, standing crops, trees and livestock, and it had also caused huge loss of lives (according to the State Government data, 284 people lost their lives in the floods). The immediate needs of the people according to our rapid assessment included:
Relief distribution by ActionAid and its allied organisation J&K Yateem Trust Photo: ActionAid
ActionAid India Response
In the first phase of our emergency response efforts,we reached out to 2,000 most affected families across 40 villages in 4 districts (Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama and Baramulla). ActionAid India was amongst the first few organizations that reached out to the people with immediate relief. We distributed dry rations, blankets, beddings, hygiene kits etc. to the affected families. More than 3,500 people across 40 villages were provided with medical care during this phase.
In the second phase of response, we reached out to nearly 1700 more families spread across 20 villages in Baramulla district. As part of our relief distribution, we provided ration kits, hygiene kits, solar lanterns, beddings (quilts, mattresses and warmer covers), blankets and kangris (pot with hot embers to keep warm).
Apart from that we rolled out “cash for work” programme, providing 40 days of wage employment to over 1,000 families in 31 villages across Anantnag, Kulgam and Pulwama districts. Each family generated an income of around Rs 9,000 during this phase. It also helped them augment their coping capacity and resilience to deal with mental stress that they had been going through.
In the third phase of our response, started in January 2015, webuilt ‘Play and Learning Centers’ for children in 10 affected areas of Pulwama. Over 750 children benefitted from the centres which were aimed at engaging children in recreational activities that could help them cope with the trauma they experienced during the disaster. We also provided heat-convectors and blankets to some hospitals.
Accountability to Disaster affected Communities
In order to ensure high levels of accountability and transparency standards as well as to implement programmes in collaboration with community, ActionAid constituted Village Level Committees (VLC) for Relief and Rehabilitation in each village of intervention with representation from the Panchayat, Auqaf Committee, Masjid Committee, teachers, anganwadi workers, affected people — including both women and men. The VLCs were overall responsible for the entire relief distribution in their village as well as recommended the list of families to be covered under the relief programme. Each VLC maintained a register to keep record of minutes and other processes or actions.
Women’s Participation and Leadership in Disaster Response
The overall emergency response was women-centric. The VLCs had significant representation from women. Women were registered as beneficiaries, tokens for distribution of materials were issued to women heads of familiesand women were encouraged to collect relief from the distribution sites.Women were also consulted on the composition of the relief material especially hygiene kits.
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