Rebuilding Resistance, Effective Giving to Disaster-Afflicted Communities

Building Institutions | Mar, 2009

In the past few years, a number of natural disasters have created significant destruction and havoc in the lives of millions of people. These increasingly frequent occurrences have highlighted the necessity to better understand the needs of crisis-affected populations, and increase the quality and effectiveness of relief, recovery and rehabilitation efforts. Dasra’s report Rebuilding Resistance synthesizes key insights related to disaster management, delineates the impact of disasters on communities, and outlines the role of the community, community-based organizations (CBOs) and donors in disaster management and community rebuilding.

The Indian subcontinent is among the world's most disaster-prone areas, with extreme vulnerability to wind storms spawned in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, earthquakes caused by active crustal movement in the Himalayan mountains, floods brought by monsoons, and droughts in the country's arid and semi-arid areas. With global warming contributing to an increase of over 50% in extreme rainfall over the last 50 years in India, these figures are likely to worsen over the coming years.
The report suggests many focuses to ensure protection and sustainable recovery of communities affected by a natural disaster. For example, it notes that a human-rights-based approach that incorporates rights-based strategies at all levels of disaster response is paramount. It warns that funding relief efforts alone can have negative consequences such as strained relationships with community members, and limited impact on the health and well-being of communities once programs are forced to cease. The report further recommends using local resources, strengthening efforts already under way, and mobilizing local informants and resource people. 

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