NEW DELHI, 23 January 2008: The Disaster Preparedness European Community Humanitarian Office (DIPECHO) has made a significant donation of US$ 400,000 (280,000 Euro) to UNICEF India to support the Community-Based Disaster Preparedness project (CBDP) in West Bengal, India.
UNICEF’s global experience has demonstrated that community-based risk reduction efforts, which are approached from a social and behaviour change perspective, 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 India launched its first CBDP pilot project in 2000 in West Bengal, in response to a major flood disaster, which has since become a successful model. Community-based preparedness initiatives focused on floods, but also included landslides, cyclones and tsunamis.
The principal objective of the DIPECHO project in West Bengal is to reduce disaster risk by empowering vulnerable communities in disaster-prone areas to be better prepared to cope with and take action to effectively reduce the adverse impact of floods.
The current contribution will target vulnerable rural families in 7 chronically flood-affected districts of West Bengal to be better prepared to deal effectively with flood hazards. This will be achieved through a process called Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) and involves mapping of both socio-economic and topographical resources.
PLA ensures the involvement of the entire community in information-sharing and consensus building. Based on the information obtained through PLA, most vulnerable groups/people are identified, and each community prepares an action plan and prepares their own family survival kit which consists of dry food for up to 10 days along with other essential items like candles, matches, kerosene oil; families pack and protect their important documents and valuables.
Each family also prepares a child survival kit which consists of books, certificates, mark sheets, birth certificate, etc.
The community then establishes different task forces (early warning, health and first aid, water and sanitation, safety, rescue and relief, etc) to facilitate better coordination and organization during a disaster.
This is ECHO’s third contribution to UNICEF disaster preparedness interventions in India and the first DIPECHO contribution to UNICEF India.
UNICEF welcomes this important contribution from DIPECHO, which allows for expansion of its CBDP interventions and empowerment of the most vulnerable communities through a critical life-saving strategy.
For more information, please contact:
Srdjan Stojanovic, Emergency Coordinator, UNICEF India, mobile: 98181-06083
Alistair Gretarsson, Communication Officer, UNICEF India, mobile: 98715-35586,