Disaster Watch is a learning forum to support the mainstreaming of women-centered
community-managed disaster initiatives.
It is an effort of the Huairou Commission coordinated
jointly with the GROOTS International network, FSWW Foundation for Support of
Women’s Work in Turkey and Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP) Mumbai India.
earthquake hit Gujarat on January 2001
Forward - community women leaders from disaster zones in India and
Turkey dialogue with professionals and government in Gujarat, Feb 2002
1. Mainstreaming Community & Women’s Disaster
Promote and strengthen best practices around community partnerships and grassroots
women’s empowerment in disaster / conflict relief, rehabilitation and
By creating a space to address disaster issues within settlements framework
women's groups in Turkey (1999) and India (1993, 2001) Kenya and Honduras have
used the disasters as an opportunity to rebuild homes and communities.
These experiences show that with little funding support women's collectives
once organized, can intervene in planning for disaster and later development
efforts. The result was that the social infrastructure -housing and basic
services was sustained by enhanced capacities for participation and widening
the base for civic self-reliance and grassroots democracy.
2. Monitoring social accountability of relief agencies,
donors, governments and local bodies
Develop and facilitate use of participatory tools such as assessments, social
audits and report cards by community stakeholders to monitor performance track
inputs and recommend .
Disaster Watch Groups of experienced women community leaders and professionals
have pioneered this methodology using Onsite Assessments followed by Dialogue
Workshops in India 1993, Turkey 1999, and after the recent Gujarat earthquake,
cyclones and floods to hold governments and international agencies accountable.
As a result, community voices and priorities to policy and programming for investments
in infrastructure and social sector.
3. Community to Community Exchanges
Exchanges among peer communities groups cuts across boundaries and cultures,
most important they are at the heart of diffusion of lessons and innovations
in dealing with disasters local to global.
Women are often the first responders within communities. At every stage, women’s
collectives once organized have used indigenous knowledge and resources to restore
livelihoods and rebuild shelters after earthquakes. When groups meet and exchange
information, it creates best practice and develops community resource teams.
After the Gujarat earthquake (2001), large numbers of women’s groups with
previous experience visited survivors armed with information on coping measures.
Their continued effort resulted in increased capacities for women to address
credit, livelihoods and governance issues.
4. Media, Advocacy and Partnerships
Mainstreaming grassroots initiatives and lessons from community practice involves
media advocacy, partnerships with the World Bank, UN and international donors
to initiate, global campaigns, best practice awards, action research studies
and video films that are used on a wide scale to influence policy shifts that
are responsive to community plans. Disaster Watch web forum acts as a tool for
exchanging and monitoring the disaster initiatives all around the world.
Focus of advocacy efforts are:
· monitoring of disaster management. Community centered disaster preparedness
involving women centrally in planning, implementation
and scaling up.
· Lobbying for disaster planning linked to long term development efforts.
· Shift in funding and resource flow from infrastructure to building
· Increased involvement of Local - authorities and communities
in planning and
Peterson - Huairou Commission, NY, USA
Tel: 718-388 8915 Fax: 718-388 0285 [email protected]
Schilen - GROOTS International, NY, USA
Tel: (718) 388-8915 Fax: (718) 388-0285 [email protected]
Gopalan - Swayam Shikshan Prayog, Mumbai, India
Tel: 022-23433855/ 23434730 [email protected]
Akcar - Foundation for the Support of Women’s Work, Istanbul, Turkey