NAVEJEEVAN: BUILDING RESILENT COMMUNITIES IN KERALA
Following incessant and extremely heavy monsoon rains during the months of June to August 2018, the state of Kerala witnessed unprecedented damage of life, property and livestock. In addition to inundation due to heavy rainfall and release of dam waters from 37 out of the 42 medium and large dams across the state, secondary disasters like landslides and mudflows led to a manifold increase in the damage incurred. Local communities, religious institutions, local administration, district and state administration and the rapid response team from the National Disaster Management Authority, all launched a massive rescue operation to evacuate people to safer places or relief camps. The church in Kerala mobilized more than 30,000 volunteers including medical practitioners and placed all the institutions and hospitals at the service of the affected people. The Catholic Church leadership, priests, nuns, and laity mobilized all resources at their disposal to save and protect lives of the flood-affected people. Good use of communication technology for search and rescue and the services of the fisherman community for rescue operations in flooded villages using fishing boats were the highlights of the response.
Description of the projects
While we were able to reach out extensively through emergency response and recovery interventions, minimal attention was paid to enhancing community resilience through community level preparedness initiatives and environmentally sustainable interventions. In this era of extreme climate change and erratic occurrences of untoward events, vulnerable communities should be prepared to face its aftermaths. Therefore, recovery should also aim to enrich, capacitate and build an army of resilient communities through a series of disaster preparedness meetings, trainings and events. The end goal of any recovery programme should be to convert vulnerability into resilience through capacity building and disaster knowledge programmes so that the affected populations are ready to overcome another calamity.
To capacitate and empower men, women, children, elderly, special groups and other categories of people in ten geographically, socially, economically and environmentally vulnerable panchayat wards with little or no capacity to withstand untoward events through resilience building and disaster awareness programmes.
- To create a concrete group of Caritas Samaritans (Caritas India’s official volunteer army) in each of the 10 selected Panchayat wards
- To enrich the disaster knowledge of communities and create awareness about the need for disaster preparedness programmes
- To build an army of first responders through the formation of disaster task forces
- To prepare a participatory ward level disaster preparedness and response plan
- To create platforms for interaction with local and state administration and to integrate the ward level plans into at least local level panchayat development plans
PLANNED PROJECT ACTIVITIES AND OUTPUTS
Meeting with District Collector (05/09/2019)
As the initial step a meeting with Sudheer Babu IAS, the district collector was conducted on 5th November 2019. The purpose of the meeting is to work closely, hand in hand with the government to ensure the project delivers sustainable results and to link these communities to government schemes and benefits. A discussion on the proposed activities also done in the meeting and he has assured all the support for the project.
As the first step of PDRA the coordinator has done a transect walk in Ottayeetti, ward number 5. The area is surrounded with hills and slopes. Most of the people in this area are farmers and the main cultivation is rubber and they also produce tapioca, pepper, and coffee nut etc. the coordinator interacted with the local people in the ward and also met the group of women too. Both the interactive sessions were helped the coordinator to have a basic idea about the ward and the damages happened in the last rainy season.
Meeting with Teekoy and Poonjar Thekkekkara Grama Panchayth Presidents (24/09/2019)
The areas of the project were six wards (Teekoy Estate, Ottayeetti, Velathussery, Malamel, Karikadu and Vellikulam) of Teekoy Grama Panchayath and the four wards (Kaippally, Cholathadam, Malayinchippara and Adivaram) of Poonjar Thekkekkara Grama Panchayath. On 24th September the project coordinator arranged a meeting with Mr. Shajan Purappanthanam (president, Teekoy Grama Panachayath) and Mrs. Nirmala Mohan (president, Poonjar Thekkekkara Grama Panchayath). The coordinator has explained about the purpose, objectives and proposed activities in the project.
Meeting with the wards members of Teekoy and Poonjar Thekkekkara Grama Panchayath (17/10/2019)
The ward members are the core persons in the DRR program. The coordinator has conducted a meeting with each ward members of Teekoy Grama Panchayath on 17th October 2019. Ward members of Teekoy Estate, Ottayeetti, Velathussery, Malamel, Karikadu and Vellikulam attended the meeting. The meeting of Poonjar Thekkekkara Grama Panchayath, ward members was conducted on 9th December 2019. The members of Malayinchippara, Adivaram, Kaippally and Cholathadam attended the meeting. A detailed project overview had given to the ward members and also clarified their queries with regard to the project activities.
Post Disaster Risk Assessment Activities
PDRA is the tool used to establish community participation on disaster risk reduction within the community. Local communities, religious institution, local administration, district and state administration and the rapid response team from the National Disaster Management Authority all launched a massive rescue operation to evacuate people to safer places or relief camps. The PDRA was conducted in the Anganawadi’s of each ward with the help of ward members.
- The processes adopted in conducting PDRA are:
- Introduce the concept of PDRA to organize group
- Describe each tool and explain the purpose of it in PDRA
- Clarify the queries, such as what benefit will get through conducting this process with community
- Formation of groups for mapping of PDRA tools
- Collect other related information regarding community and hazard through focus group discussions
- Mapping in charts at the end of exercise will review and evaluate the process and present all the mappings by each group and thereby it will help to understand all other groups about whole the process of PDRA
Formation of village Disaster Management Committees
Village Disaster Management Committee is a group of people within the ward. The aim of setting up these VDMCs is to better utilize local skills, resources, manpower, and leadership in order to equip them with tools and strategies to managed disasters until better government disaster relief efforts can be set in. As a first in the formation of VDMC a transect walk was conducted in the wards of Teekoy and Poonjar Thekkekkara Grama Panchayth. A house visit was conducted in some of the wards. With the help of ward members, those people who have the willingness to help other were joined as the members in the VDMCs.
VDMC Training and Orientation
Training for the members in the Village Disaster Management Committee was conducted directly by the Caritas India. It was an online course due to the spread of corona virus. It was orientation training for the VDMC members.
Formation and Strengthening of Task Forces
Task force is one of the major activities in the DRR project. The aim of the formation of task force is to facilitate quick intervention for relief and rescue during natural calamities and disasters. For the formation of task force, discussion was conducted with the ward members and the parish priest in the project area. Due to the spread of corona virus people are panicked to join in the group and the coordinator is not able to conduct a direct meeting with those who are joined in the task force.
Visit of Bishop (11/09/2020)
The Bishop of Palai and the director of PSWS have done a visit in the project area in the time of flood and mud fall in 2020 September. There was a relief camp in the school.
Mock drill (24/06/2020)
As part of “Navajeevan” project the society supported a mock drill on 24th June 2020 at Vellikulam and Chathapuzha in association with District Disaster Management Agency (DDMA). Personnel from District Collectorate, police and fire force and health department and NGO were participated. The aim of this mock drill was to review the district's prepared to counter natural calamities. The drill was held considering the possibility of rain-induced landslides hiranges of Vellikulam or a flood of Chathapuzha. The exercise started with the district control room receiving a warning from the State Disaster Management Authority around 9 am about the possibility of a three-day orange alert turning into a red-alert. The District Disaster Management Authority passed the message to the revenue divisional officer Pala, Tahsildar of Meenachil and the Panchayath control room. After this, the police, along with Fire and Rescue Service personnel and volunteer a groups launched a rescue mission in Vellikulam and Chathapuzha. Considering the emergency of the situations the District Collector M. Anjana IAS also convened an urgent meeting of the Disaster Management Authoriry at 9:45 am at collectorate Kottayam. Evaluating the situation the DDMA gave appropriate directions to tye officials in the site. The location Chathapuzha was selected for flood rescue operations and Vellikulam was selected for landslide rescue operation. The society provided 18 volunteers from village Disaster Management Committee (VDMC) and at least campaign was active in Vellikulam high school building with the support of the Parish Preist.
In Chathapuzha police evacuated the river bank residents after the yellow alert. Fire force transferred them to the relief camp. A demonstration wasconducted of how to save the life of persons who drowns in the river. In Vellikulam landslide vicitims were given first aid. In the coved 19 situation there were four types of relief camp facilitities were arranged. One for common people, one for Covid suspected persons, person above sixty and covid patients. The evacuated people were transferred to the respective camps by adhering Covid protocols. There was an evaluation session convened by District collector after the mock drill. P. C George MLA, District Police Chief, National Disaster Response Force representatives, RDO, Tahasiladar, Village officer, Fire force officials, Police officials and representatives from Pala Social Welfare Society and other NGOs took part in the discussion and pointed out the gaps to be corrected in the real situation. The program was wound up 1:30 pm.
Saksharatha Yajnam (14/12/2020)
With regard to the DRR Project a mike announcement was conducted in the premises of Teekoy and Poonjar Thekkekkara Grama Panchayath. The program was presided over by Fr. Thomas Kizhakkel, Director PSWS and inaugurated by Mrs. Pennamma Joseph, District Panchayath member.
Clinics Room Inauguration and Visibility Board (01/01/2021)
As part of DRR Project the Palai Social Welfare Society has conducted two programs in the month of January. As per the guidance from Caritas India, we have completed the tasks of Disaster Clinics Room activity and visibility board. The disaster clinic rooms were opened in the three parishes of Teekoy and Poonjar Tekkekkara Grama Panchayath. In Teekoy Panchayath the disaster clinic rooms were opened in Teekoy and Vellikulam church and in poonjar Thekkekkara Panchayath it was done in Kunnonni Parish. The vicars of each parish inaugurated the rooms. The Palai Social Welfare Society Director Fr. Thomas Kizhakkel presided over the meetings. Project officer Litty C Kochodackal, Albin Joseph, Jaisy Benny and Saju Vadakkel also attended the program. The activity of visibility board is completed in both Panchayath
Training at Teekoy (27/02/2021)
With regard to the training of task force members the DSSS has discussed with K.C James, Teekoy Grama Panchayath president and ward members. On 27th February 2021 the first round training for the task members in Teekoy Grama Panchayath has conducted. Around 30 members participated in the meeting. It was presided over by Fr. Thomas Menachery and inauguration was done by K.C James, Grama Panchayath President, Teekoy. The resource persons were Mr. Anil George (Assistant fire station officer) and Naveen Kumar (Fire rescue officer, Erattupetta). They have taken the class on the topic first aid.
Training at Kunnonni (04/03/2021)
The second training for the task force members are conducted at Kunnoni in Poonjar Thekkekkara Grama Panchayath. It was conducted on 04/03/2021. Meeting was presided over by Fr. Joseph Thazhathuvarikkayil and was inaugurated by Mr. George Mathew Athiyalil President, Poonjar Thekkekara Grama Pnachayath. The resource people were Mr. P. U Gireeshan Fire Rescues Officer, Erattupetta, Mr. Naveen Kumar Fire Rescue Officer, Erattupetta, and Mr. Jibi. P. Varambanatthu Fire Rescue Officer, Erattupetta. Around 70 people participated in the meeting.
To conduct training in other wards of both Panchayath.
Ashakiranam- Cancer Day
Ashakiranam Cancer Care Campaign by Caritas India started on 30th March 2016 in the diocese by PSWS. After the official launching of the campaign diocese started various programs for the campaign. Cancer detention campaigns and awareness classes have been conducted across the diocese in the last reporting year. Ashakiranam has a positive impact or effect in the diocese. It showers light to the suffering and the marginalized people who do not have awareness regarding the reasons and causes of cancer.
It includes other activities like hair donation programs making wings with the donated hair and are for the affected patients underwent treatment. Totally 8 hair donation programs had conducted last year and 85 individuals includes males had donated their hair. In case of medical assistance large number of patients got support and an amount of Rs. 6, 78, 720/- could donate for victims.
The Palai Social Welfare Society in association with Janamythri Police Pala, Pink Police Pala, Mar. Augusthinose College Ramapuram, conducted world Cancer Day on February 4th in Pala. The meeting was presided over by Sri. Suresh V A, Circle Inspector Pala. Cancer day program was inaugurated by Sri. Kuriakose Padavan the Vice- Chairman of Pala Municipality. Cancer day message delivered by Mr. Siju Thomas, HOD Social Work Department, Mar. Augusthinose College Ramapuram. The theme of World Cancer Day 2020 was ‘I am and I will’. Thereafter as part of cancer awareness the Social Work students of Mar. Augusthinose College Ramapuram has performed a flash mob.
CATHOLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION OF INDIA-LF PROJECT (CHAI)
The Liliane Foundation is a Dutch NGO that was created in 1980 as a special fund for children and young people with disabilities in developing countries. In cooperation with local partner organization, the foundation aims at social inclusion promoting community-based rehabilitation strategies or services. The support that the Foundation provides focuses on individual development including areas of health, education, livelihood and social activities. It caters to the needs of the disabled children.
The Pala Social Welfare Society (PSWS) is getting support from Liliane Fonds, Netherland from 2003 onwards. CHAI (Catholic Health Association of India) Scanderbeg is the Indian authorized agency of LF. This reporting year we could assist 72 children across the operational area with an amount of Rs4, 00,103/-.
We Ring the Bell Campaign
The main message of the campaign will be: all children welcome in school! Focusing on your ‘A’s Accessibility, acceptance, availability and adaptation as precondition for every child to go to school. The campaign is to include children with disabilities to educational system and this campaign will complement the government’s flagship program–Sarva Siksha Abhiyan(SSA),to achieve its goal of education for all and “Right to education’’(RTE)Act in 2009.In our diocese we spread the message in some school at Pala. We Ring the Bell campaign was conducted at Government High School Pala on 3rdFebruary 2020.The program was conducted to make the children aware about the rights of differently abled and to reduce the discrimination of differently abled children at schools. We made the children to take a pledge to protect the rights of the differently abled and to never discriminate them in the society. A total of 100 students (also 3 differently abled students) and ten teachers were participated in the program. CARRIER GUIDENCE CLASS differently –abled people have been and are still subject to inequality, but with time, the scenario is changing. With necessity of education being highlighted in rural and urban areas among all classes, differently- abled people are getting the opportunity to get proper education and improve their condition. There have been multiple differently abled people who have achieved great feats and proved their worth to people. Employment is a vital element of independent living for disabled people. Access of persons with disabilities to a decent work is important both as an essential right and in terms of the economic advantages it brings. So we organized a carrier guidance coaching class and counselling for the student’s on10th march 2020.During the session talked about different carrier opportunities the differently abled people can achieve and the government support for the differently abled people can achieve and the government supports for the differently abled in the employment sector. There were a total of 22 beneficiaries made use of this program. Including the parents who assisted their children total 50 participated in the program.
GRASS ROOT COMIC TRINING PROGRAM
Grass root comic is a power tool for the beneficiaries on 21thDecember2019 on the topic ‘‘PROBLEMS FACED BY DIFFERENTLY ABLED CHILDREN AT HOME AND SCHOOL’’. Total of 15members participated in the program. All of them represented their drawings. Today’s many of the school teachers and children are unaware about the right of the disabled so through the poster exhibition and the right of the disabled so through the poster exhibition and the grass root comic we can make to understand the problem facing by the disabled and their right among the school children. “HEALTHY LIFE STYLE PRACTICES’’ is another grass root comic training program. A total of 39 persons, including parents of the beneficiaries participated in the class.