Kutch Navnirman Abhiyan: An update on the relief/rehabilitation activities in Kutch
The Coordination process between the Kutch Navnirman Abhiyan, the district authorities and the Aid Agencies in Bhuj is being set up and processes are being operationalised. The news in today's Times of India on the Abhiyan withdrawing from relief is misleading. Reality is very different. and not true.
Some of the highlights of activities and developments on Feb 4 are:
The coordination meeting at the camp of the Kutch Navnirman Abhiyan had the participation of representatives from the Abhiyan member organizations, aid agencies and the Government officials. It has been decided that the collector's office, the aid agencies and the Abhiyan would be coordinating closely with each other for the relief and rehabilitation efforts in the region. All the aid agencies, corporate bodies and the voluntary agencies participating in the relief and rehabilitation agencies were requested to keep the Abhiyan informed of their plans for partnership with villages for adoption/ rehabilitation of villages in the affected areas. It was also agreed that there was a need to build consensus on the framework under which the rehabilitation activities are to be taken up.
The district collector, Mr. Anil Mukim attended the meeting, heard the views of all concerned and took decisions to streamline the coordination between Abhiyan, Aid Agencies and the Collector's office. With the support of the Environmental Planning Collaborative at Ahmedabad and other partner organizations, an information system to facilitate the relief and rehabilitation efforts has been envisaged.
As a first step, an email has been made operational. It was proposed to set up an electronic discussion list with all those partner organizations and individuals operating from different parts of the country and the world to essentially resource on their respective networks for relief/ as well as rehabilitation efforts. Regular news updates on the developments in Kutch will be made available.
National Tree Growers Cooperative Federation (NTGCF), Anand, the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai have offered to help the Abhiyan to conduct a comprehensive survey of all the villages in the affected areas to make a realistic assessment of the damage and the needs of the region for reconstruction and rehabilitation. The sub-centres being set up by the Abhiyan will be involved in conducting the survey.
Abhiyan has operationalised 3 centres and 22 sub-service centres to coordinate relief and rehabilitation efforts. Each sub-centre will have a team managing the surveys, the procurement and supply services for about 15 to 22 villages around the sub-centre. The sub-centres are equipped with warehousing and distribution facilities.
The NTGFC-NDDB and the IIM, Ahmedabad have deployed managers in the area to help the activities at the sub-centres. Volunteers from the Abhiyan Network will form the teams along with the managers. Committees made up of the team and representatives from the villages being served would be coordinating the activities at the sub-centers. The sub Abhiyan has set up offices at Bhuj, Samakhiyali at Bachau and Neelpar in Rapar to network with the activities of sub-centres and relief operations of other agencies.
Abhiyan Update: Bhuj, Feb 08, 2001
A significant development towards the effective coordination of post-earthquake relief activities has been the institution of a regular morning meeting at 9:00 am at the Kutch Navnirman Abhiyan campus at Madansinh Park.
The Collector of Kutch , Mr. Anil Mukim, the Kutch District Development Officer, Mr. Rajiv Topno, all foreign and Indian aid agencies, Abhiyan members and other NGOs have agreed to meet every morning at the Abhiyan campus to discuss policy, convergence of relief activities and other matters.
The existing government health services through the Public Health Centers and sub-centers are not operational in Kutch district, and need to be restored on an urgent basis. An immediate area of concern and action is the provision of tents/services for maternity care, i.e. deliveries and post-natal care for pregnant women.
The Brahmakumaris and Save the Children agreed to provide tentage for health services all over the district. Sanitation in the hospitals and relief camps must be maintained to prevent outbreak of epidemics.
Trauma care was another area requiring immediate action. People with the relevant training and skills were urgently needed to take care of the mental (trauma counseling) and physical (physiotherapy) aspects as well as general physicians for basic medical needs of the people.
Apollo Hospitals has offered to "adopt" 2 blocks of Kutch and send 2 medical teams immediately, and the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences (NIMHANS) is on call for giving support in psychological counseling services.
Cold chains for vaccine storage need to be established to prevent the spoiling of existing stocks of vaccinations, which would soon become useless unless put into cold storage immediately.
The Kutch Navnirman Abhiyan has offered to play a coordination role for the post-earthquake health situation, but would need to be mandated to play this role.
Destitute Children & Women:
It was discussed that many international agencies are moving in with offers of adoption of orphaned children. Already the issue has acquired a tinge of controversy, with the RSS and other groups decrying the adoption of Indian children by foreigners. It was felt that no legal process of adoption should be initiated by the government until a clear-cut and well thought-out policy emerges on this issue. This issue requires immediate action. Any delays means that orphaned and destitute children are likely to travel further away from their original homes and become untraceable.
Rapid Assessment Survey:
a. An exhaustive rapid rural assessment survey covering almost all talukas and villages of Kutch has been undertaken by the Abhiyan. The data of this survey would be of enormous significance for the government, donor agencies and NGOs for setting the agenda for action vis-à-vis the short-term relief measures as well as the long-term rehabilitation policy.
b.. The Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), the Gujarat Institute of Development Research (GIDR) and the Abhiyan have together designed the framework and format for the survey. The survey would assess the following in all villages:
1.. Basic village profile
2.. Damage assessment including loss of life, property, livestock and infrastructure
3.. Water availability, handling and storage (keeping in mind health and sanitation concerns)
4.. Relief status in terms of supplies reached and needed
5.. Agencies giving supplies
6.. Gram panchayat members present
7.. Presence of NGOs or any other community-based organizations
8.. Status of PHCs, health sub-centers and school
9.. Availability of any storage facility
10.. Availability of fodder and water for cattle
11.. People's own coping mechanisms and local initiatives
12.. Willingness of people to rebuild their own houses
13.. Orphans, destitute women and physically handicapped
14.. Any other qualitative data a.. On February 6, a survey team consisting of 85 volunteers drawn from Pune medical college, Rashtriya Yuva Sangh, Saath and Navsarjan along with Abhiyan field staff, have commenced the task of collecting data from over 300 villages of 5 talukas of Anjar, Bhachau, Bhuj, Rapar and Mundra. The survey will be completed and the data analyzed by February 9-10.
Approach to Relief & Rehabilitation:
The Abhiyan and the Bhuj Collector have agreed that the rush for "adopting" villages by donor agencies should be treated with caution. The government has proposed increased co-ordination and collective planning for rehabilitation. A common framework for rehabilitation in "partnership" needs to be developed on the basis of which on the basis of which the partnership interventions need to be implemented.
The word "adoption" has many problematic implications such as reinforcing the "victim" mentality of the earthquake-affected. Any relief and rehabilitation policy must stress the active involvement, participation of and contribution by local communities in the entire process. Hence, rather than "adopting" villages, we must have the attitude of building "partnerships" with local communities in the enormous task of rehabilitation.
Setting up of Sub-Centers:
The present network of 22 sub-centers covers 4 talukas of Kutch (Bhuj, Anjar, Bhachau, Nakhatrana and Mandvi). There is a need for another 22 sub-centers in Rapar taluka, which is being planned.