Principal objective of the ECHO project in Assam is to minimise risk from disasters by empowering vulnerable communities in disaster-prone areas NEW DELHI, 16 July 2009: Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) has made a significant donation to UNICEF India of over US $430,000 (307,000 Euro) to support the Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction (CBDRR) in Assam, India.
UNICEF’s global experience has demonstrated that community-based disaster risk reduction efforts, which are approached from a social and behaviour change perspective, will ensure that children and families understand the simple and practical actions required to protect lives and personal properties in the case of natural disasters.
UNICEF-supported CBDRR projects are excellent examples of mainstreaming of practices which effectively lead toward empowering communities and their capacity to deal with disasters, with due attention on specific vulnerabilities and needs of women and children. UNICEF India launched its first CBDRR pilot project back in 2000 in West Bengal, in response to a major disaster, which has since become a model project.
CBDRR initiatives focused on floods, but also landslides, cyclones and tsunamis. Various CBDRR projects have been implemented across the country, of which two have been implemented with ECHO support in 2007-2008, in West Bengal and Bihar.
The principal objective of the ECHO project in Assam is to reduce risk from disasters by empowering vulnerable communities in disaster-prone areas to be better prepared to cope with the adverse impact of floods and erosion. The specific objective is to, through resilience building measures, empower poor families in vulnerable villages to better prepare and cope with disasters. The ECHO project will cover about 8,000 most vulnerable families (a total of 40,000 population including 7,500 children 0-14 years of age).
Most of the families are very poor and belong to low caste or minority groups. These families are located in 80 villages in the districts of Jorhat and Kamrup. The villages have been selected on the basis of their physical vulnerability – they are located in low lying riverine areas, highly susceptible to flood and erosion, and contain a large concentration of marginalised population.
The project will achieve three key results: a) Using Participatory tools, communities will identify and assess their physical and social vulnerability; communities prepare participatory plans for action in case of disasters; 2) Communities in 80 identified villages will form functional task forces with resources and skills to be better prepared to reduce impact of floods; tools and trainings will be identified and provided for key task forces, e.g. Water and Sanitation, Health, Early Warning, Search and Rescue, Shelter, with focus on children and women; 3) Coordination, capacity building and advocacy with stakeholders, such as Government counterparts and NGOs, will be ensured to influence the effectiveness of CBDRR intervention; this will further contribute to building institutional capacity for response.
This is ECHO’s sixth contribution to UNICEF disaster preparedness interventions in India and is a continuation of our growing and successful partnership. Out of the six, this is the second ECHO contribution to UNICEF India.
UNICEF welcomes this significant contribution from ECHO, which allows for expansion of our CBDRR interventions and empowerment of the most vulnerable communities through a critical life-saving strategy.