Empowering vulnerable communities through flood mitigation efforts
ECHO-supported CBDRR initiative by UNICEF in Bihar
New Delhi, 15 April 2009: UNICEF has completed the 11-month long Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction (CBDRR) project in Bihar, India. About US$ 700,000 million (520,000 Euro) was provided by ECHO to support this project, entitled Early Recovery Programme for Flood Mitigation in Bihar, India.
UNICEF’s global experience has demonstrated that CBDRR 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 to specific vulnerabilities and needs of women and children.
UNICEF’s CBDRR small-scale interventions in Bihar date back to 2004. However, it is the ECHO contribution that provided the single largest and most important contribution to CBDRR efforts in Bihar. The momentum for a larger action was reached during the 2007 floods, which are considered to be among the very worst in the state in recorded history. The deleterious impact of floods has been felt by almost 25 million people. As usual, floods disproportionately hit the poorest and weakest, and vulnerable children among them. UNICEF Bihar lays further emphasis on promoting and expanding disaster risk reduction interventions and building capacities of local partners and communities.
The principal objective of ECHO-funded UNICEF’s project in Bihar was early recovery and resilience building of the most vulnerable flood-affected communities. The specific objective was to ensure the persisting recovery needs of the most vulnerable communities are met and their capacity to deal with future disasters is strengthened.
The ECHO project objectives were materialised – along with government and NGO partners - through several achievements: 1) reduced incidence of severe and acute malnourishment among vulnerable children; 2) provision of water and sanitation infrastructure combined with comprehensive awareness campaign that has reduced vulnerability to water borne diseases; 3) establishment of improved surveillance system and case management, which has helped to control the spread of water and vector-borne disease; 4) providing communities and partners with safe flood-shelters and suitable boats, which will enhance community resilience to floods and improve overall capacity of communities and local administration to deal with disasters in coming years. The project is expected to significantly contribute to reducing loss of lives, assets and related risks in the long run.
Primary beneficiaries of this project have been almost 25,000 families (approximately 130,000 population) among the most vulnerable children and communities, especially socially excluded communities, who were affected by floods in 2007 and who live in areas particularly prone to disasters. The project covered 46 villages of the Northern districts of Bihar, i.e. East Champaran, Darbhanga and Madhubani.
Other than vulnerable communities, the proposed interventions have improved the capacity of the local NGOs and local administration to deal with flood mitigation and response, increasing their effectiveness. Indirectly, a much larger group of people will benefit from the interventions planned in this project.
This was ECHO’s fifth contribution to UNICEF disaster risk reduction interventions in India since 2006 and highlights a continuation of our growing partnership. It was also the very first ECHO-supported project of UNICEF in the area of recovery and disaster mitigation. UNICEF is grateful to ECHO for its generous support, which allowed for empowering most vulnerable and socially marginalised communities in Bihar to be able to cope with flood disasters.