Building Community Resilience for Disaster Risk Reduction &
Enormous potential exists to turn a "disaster"
into an opportunity for sustainable community development. Furthering
it's vision of bringing people from margin to the mainstream, SSP
Swayam Shikshan Prayog has partnered actively with disaster affected
community & women's groups to design and implement long term disaster
response too development initiatives leading to powerful social
transformation and community empowerment.
The Chinese do not use the word Disasters. They believe it is a
bad omen. Instead, CRISIS is a word that represents two sides: danger
Intervening after the major earthquakes
and the tsunami crisis in India, as an opportunity, SSP Swayam Shikshan
Prayog or self education for empowerment, is a development NGO that
has built resilience of women and communities at the grassroots
in reconstruction and local governance.
As a result of its innovative approach
in disaster recovery and resilience building, the organization and
network has experienced a continuous expansion up to 60,000 women
in self help groups (SHGs) across 1,100 villages in the most hazard
prone areas in three states Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu
Since its advisory role to the government
and the World Bank in the massive post-earthquake rehabilitation
program of Maharashtra in 1993, SSP has continued to contribute
to reconstruction efforts in the wake of major disasters and bridged
community experience on DRR with national development priorities
through leading the formation the NADRR National Alliance on Disaster
Risk Reduction (NADRR) in 2007.
Community Disaster Resilience
Fund (CDRF): The Resilience Fund is a unique innovation that
places funds directly in the hands of local groups to map the vulnerabilities,
prioritizes actions to implement the DRR initiatives across eight
states in India in partnership with the National Disaster Management
Authority (NDMA). Lessons were shared in the Global Platform for
Risk Reduction (ISDR), June 2009 as part of the Community Resilience
campaign of Groots International and the Huairou Commission.
Experience in DRR: SSP work
has reduced vulnerability in over one million disaster-affected
households in the last decade in three states Maharashtra (1993),
Gujarat (2001) and Tamil Nadu (2004) through mass education on safe
construction for house owners. Women house owners were encouraged
to contribute to design and construction of their homes, while engineers
and masons were monitored closely in the end, ensuring that earthquake
safe houses were built.
Peer Exchanges: Expanding
the scope of its work, experienced women's groups from Maharashtra
were facilitated by SSP teams visited one week after Gujarat earthquake
to transfer a long term reconstruction strategies in post disaster
response. As a result, women's savings and credit groups and federations
were established, communities were made aware of safety features,
retrofitting technology, and community enterprises.
In all these major disasters across
three states, the grassroots women's network of self help groups
has emerged with capacities for long term sustainable resilience
building beyond mere emergency response.
Grassroots Knowledge and Training
Centers: Today ten centers provide support for the women's network
and link to information and institutional players. Women's groups
are monitoring community health and partner with the Government
on employment guarantee scheme, drought and poverty reduction programs.
Based on their economic advancements, women's groups have strengthened
village assemblies and community planning processes making local
governments more accountable on concerns around education services,
livelihoods, community health mutual fund, water and sanitation,
local governance etc.
Women's Health Governance groups:
After the Tsunami (2004), SSP has strengthened the women's self
help groups/networks firstly for community preparedness and recovery
and later to address social and economic vulnerabilities. In all
the communities, village level Women's Health Governance groups
and Federations were established to address health water, sanitation
risks /emergencies and demand quality pro poor public / private
services. Over two hundred grassroots women have emerged as resource
persons in DRR. They are at the center of SSP's capacities to transfer
vision of grassroots led recovery and long term resilience strategy
to Sri Lanka, Indonesia, across disaster prone South Asia and other
Partnering with affected communities
and women's grassroots networks yields rich dividends for community
empowerment and grassroots democracy. The work of SSP and other
groups has valuable lessons for restructuring recovery and DRR and
climate change adaptation strategies.
Furthermore, SSP coordinates the
Global Working Group on Disasters as a link between policy makers
and local governments. It moderates a web forum www.disasterwatch.net
as a node for sharing local initiatives and up-streaming lessons
from grassroots initiatives. This platform provides rich resources
and quarterly e-newsletters such as “Disaster Brief” and “Tsunami
Update” on communities and disaster response.