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Promoting Rights-Based Disaster Risk Reduction in North Bihar

Location: North Bihar

The Dalit villagers, a marginalized group living in the flood-prone areas of north Bihar, are among the state's most vulnerable communities. Displaced from their already marginal existences for several months each year by seasonal flooding, they lack the resources to feed their families when their only source of income, daily wage labor, disappears. These villagers' only recourse is manipulative moneylenders, who drag them down into a debt spiral and make it impossible for them to catch up when the floods recede and they return to their homes.

Following a vulnerability assessment study to determine the extent of this problem, IDF partnered with DanChurchAid to establish an intervention in 10 villages designed to empower Dalit community members to learn how to reduce the losses they face from flooding and other hazards. Working gradually through self-help groups and village disaster management committees that included key community stakeholders in the health, social, and education sectors, IDF staff motivated, educated, and trained the target population to adopt practical disaster risk reduction measures. Such steps included building high emergency platforms, installing water and sanitation facilities that remain safe even during flooding, and forming rescue teams. In addition, villagers were introduced to adaptive agricultural techniques to cope with climate change, ensure their food security, and even treat diseases that affect flood-stricken populations.

A significant benefit of this project was the formation of the network Mission-DRR. With nine core partners, including IDF, and 100 associate members, Mission-DRR had the capacity both to assimilate best disaster risk reduction practices and to advocate on behalf of Dalit rights and entitlements. Above all, however, project activities raised awareness within the communities of the benefits and services to which their high-risk circumstances entitle them and strengthened their capacity to claim these rights. As a result of IDF's intervention, these vulnerable Dalit villagers were able to begin the transition from helpless and passive victims to well-prepared and proactive community members capable of surviving floods safely with minimum losses and ensuring their access to government compensation.

Click here for the project report (pdf).

Medicinal plants will help villagers combat the many diseases floods bring in their wake