Introducing Disaster Preparedness through Water and Sanitation

Donor :  WaterAid India

Location : 4 Districts (Muzaffarpur, Samastipur, Darbhanga & Madhubani) of Bihar

Outreach : More than 6,000 people living in 61 villages in five blocks of the following five districts of north Bihar: Muzaffarpur-Aurai, Madhubani-Jhanjarpur, Darbhanga-Kewoti, Samastipur-Kalyanpur, and Sitamarhi-Belsand.

Project Brief :

At the initiative of the Bihar government’s minister of disaster management, WaterAid India partnered with IDF to develop an innovative plan to address this problem by introducing disaster preparedness measures. Project was to provide access to safe water and sanitation for especially remote and deprived communities, suitable for use during flooding as well.

After an initial period devoted to building rapport with community members, the project moved on to introducing concrete interventions. Community members were mobilized to identify suitable volunteers from different villages to support the ongoing disaster preparedness activities; these were often functionally literate young people with past volunteer experience and good interpersonal skills. Volunteers learned about the importance of community-based preparedness, the concept of volunteerism, volunteers’ specific roles and responsibilities, the strategies developed by the Bihar government to cope with disasters, mapping and resource analysis, and how to operate a village water and sanitation committee. Raised hand pumps were installed to ensure the availability of clean drinking water even during floods, when other hand pumps become submerged and unusable. Maintenance and repair capabilities are required for the smooth functioning of any asset and the community toilets and raised hand pumps were therefore closely monitored on an ongoing basis as an integral part of the intervention. Water tanks and filters were provided and placed in strategic locations, mainly school buildings, which are generally the safest places during flooding. Rescue bags were prepared containing up to 32 practical items such as tools, antivenom, first aid items, sanitary pads, etc.