Balance Requested from ACT Alliance: US$ 237,205
Geneva, 20 February 2004
Three different disasters occurred in Assam within a span of one year from September 2002 to August 2003. At one time three ASIN appeals (ASIN 23 - Assam & Bihar Floods, ASIN32 - Assam Cyclone and ASIN 33 - Assam Floods 2003) were being implemented simultaneously in Dhubri and Goalpara districts, which are adjacent to each other. A further intervention was deemed necessary by ACT member the Lutheran World Service India (LWS-I) in another neighbouring district, Kokrajar, for rehabilitation of families displaced due to ethnic violence as people have been living in relief camps with very nominal support for the past eight years. Taking everything into consideration, it was felt that a comprehensive project aiming at supporting the affected people in all three districts would be more effective and efficient. Therefore this new appeal combines the rehabilitation activities started under different appeals.
The project aims to provide life sustaining assistance to socially and economically marginalised people affected by disasters both natural and human made and enable them to return to "normal" life by addressing identified problems. Lutheran World Service India (LWS-I) proposes a programme comprising food-for-work activities; potable water; shelter rehabilitation; skills training and rehabilitation of community based structures.
With the start of this new appeal all other LWS-I projects under appeals related to Assam will be closed and the transfer of unspent balances will be requested in due course.
Project Completion Date: 31 December 2004
Summary of Appeal Targets, Pledges/Contributions Received and Balance Requested US$
Total Appeal Target(s) 401,205
Less: balance from previous appeals - transfer to be requested 164,000
Balance Requested from ACT Network 237,205
Please kindly send your contributions to the following ACT bank account:
Account Number - 240-432629.60A (USD)
Account Name: ACT - Action by Churches Together
8, rue du Rhône
P.O. Box 2600
1211 Geneva 4
Swift address: UBSW CHZH12A
Please also inform the Finance Officer Jessie Kgoroeadira (direct tel. +4122/791.60.38, e-mail address email@example.com) of all pledges/contributions and transfers, including funds sent direct to the implementers, now that the Pledge Form is no longer attached to the Appeal.
We would appreciate being informed of any intent to submit applications for EU, USAID and/or other back donor funding and the subsequent results. We thank you in advance for your kind cooperation.
Acting Director, ACT
I. REQUESTING ACT MEMBER INFORMATION
The Lutheran World Federation/Department for World Service - India Programme (LWS India)
II. IMPLEMENTING ACT MEMBER & PARTNER INFORMATION
The Lutheran World Federation/Department for World Service-India Programme (ACT/LWS-India) is a relief and development organisation, established with the mandate to alleviate the suffering of distressed groups irrespective of caste, religion, gender or political affiliation. ACT/LWS India has been implementing Integrated Development and Disaster Response projects since 1974 in several States of India. LWS India program continues to receive strong support and co-operation from the respective State Governments and International donors. LWF being one of the sponsor organisations of the 'Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Disaster Relief', LWS India designs its disaster response intervention accordingly and wherever feasible LWS India follows the Sphere standards in disaster assistance.
III. DESCRIPTION of PRESENT SITUATION
Three different disasters occurred in Assam within a span of one year from September 2002 to August 2003. At one time three ASIN appeals were being implemented simultaneously in Dhubri and Goalpara districts, which are adjacent to each other. A further intervention was deemed necessary by LWS-I in another neighbouring district, Kokrajar, for rehabilitation of families displaced due to ethnic violence as people have been living in relief camps with very nominal support for the past eight years. Taking everything into consideration, it was felt that a comprehensive project would be more effective in supporting the affected people in all three districts. Therefore this new appeal combines the different activities started under the appeals mentioned below.
Assam & Bihar Floods-2002 (ASIN23: issued August 02 - extended to November 03)
Torrential rainfall in the upper catchment areas caused rivers in eastern India to overflow. Flash floods hit the states of Assam, Bihar and parts of West Bengal in July 2002. LWS India immediately mobilised relief assistance in Dhubri district of Assam. However, prolonged state-wide strikes by transporters in Bihar state delayed the relief intervention. By the time distribution of non-food family kits could be implemented, a further assessment showed that the most urgent needs had changed from relief to rehabilitation.
Since funding reached only 38.71% it was decided to undertake only rehabilitation activities in Assam under the ASIN23 Appeal.
While the Assam flood rehabilitation activities were progressing (mainly food for work), a cyclone/tornado struck Dhubri in April 2003 followed by severe floods in July 2003 affecting 23 districts - the worst hit included Dhubri and Goalpara. These disasters resulted in a total halt of the activities under ASIN23. Most of the food-for-work activities were completed at the end of November 2003 and the remaining activities have been included under this new appeal.
From a target of US$ 941,698 a total of US$ 364,533 was received towards ASIN23. At the end of November an unspent balance of US$ 84,068 was available, which is planned to be utilised for the on-going rehabilitation activities in the same area under this new appeal.
Assam Cyclone-2003 (ASIN32: issued May 03 - completion date May 04)
In response to this devastating cyclone/tornado, affecting areas of Dhubri, Dhemaji and Sointpur districts on 22 April 2003, LWS undertook rapid response activities in two severely affected blocks followed by food-for-work projects out of the stock procured under ASIN 23. Rehabilitation activities were initiated under a new appeal - ASIN32. However, the progress of this project was hampered due to another severe and prolonged flood that hit and devastated vast areas in Assam. The staff implementing this project were sent to work in Goalpara district.
There is still a need to continue the food-for-work activities in Hatsinghmari Sub-division of Dhubri district in order to restore community infrastructures damaged by the 2003 floods. Therefore these activities have been included under this new, combined appeal. Out of a target of US $353,534 ASIN 32 funding reached only US$ 106,678. A request for transfer of the balance of funds, estimated at US$ 80,661 to this new appeal will be made.
Assam Floods-2003 (ASIN33: issued July 03 - completion date October 03)
Again heavy rains pounded Assam in July 2003 causing the main river Brahmaputra and its tributaries in upper Assam to overflow and flood 23 districts, which included again Goalpara and Dhubri. The situation in Goalpara district was the worst with 453 villages being inundated and affecting 285,000 people.
When requested to initiate flood response activities in the worst hit areas, LWS India deployed a Rapid Assessment Team comprising staff from the existing project in Dhubri district as well as from other operational areas to identify the most vulnerable locations as well as groups of most affected people. This time an appeal was issued for relief intervention only.
The crisis intervention was carried out in September 2003. Funding received for ASIN33 was US $201,661 against the appeal target of US$253,198. Since there has been a minimal response from most other INGOs in Assam, the assistance from LWSI had to be very carefully planned to cover a maximum number of beneficiaries amongst the worst hit families. By the end of October, the entire funds had been utilised by procuring most of the material for tube wells and food grains.
However, activities such as dry food distribution and sinking of tube wells could not be completed within the project period. Consequently, these activities have been continuing in a more organised manner for long term benefit to the affected people and to reduce future vulnerabilities. Restoration of community infrastructures and creation of drinking water sources through food-for-work and installation of tube wells, has continued and is expected to be completed in a couple of months. The pending activities are therefore incorporated in this new appeal.
Assam Riot Victims' Rehabilitation 2003
In May 1996 and September 1998 Kokrajhar district (lower Assam), consisting of two subdivisions - Kokrajhar and Gossaigaon - witnessed violent ethnic conflict between the majority Bodos and the minority migrant Santhal community. (Although the conflict affected other districts such as Dhubri and Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar was the worst affected.) Hundreds were reportedly killed, thousands of homes destroyed, and many people of both communities displaced. The Assam State government brought in military forces to quell the rioting, and over 250,000 people took refuge in 68 relief camps.
Between 1996 and 1999, LWSI responded by providing temporary housing assistance, supplementary feeding for women and children, economic skills training, clothing, education (school buildings and teachers) in the relief camps from funding received under ASIN75 and ASIN84. The activities under ASIN75 were concluded by September 1999, while activities under ASIN84 were concluded by December 1999.
From the start LWSI built up and sustained strong co-ordination with government agencies, at state, district and sub-division levels. LWSI has been practically the only INGO with continuous presence and credibility in all relief camps in the district.
Camp residents were supported in the operation of temporary schools for children, while a large number of youth have been trained as health volunteers to meet basic health care needs of the people. LWSI has been continuing with limited intervention providing logistical support for medical services and education programs through 16 temporary education centres in 11 camps. Mother and Child Health Programmes are continuing in co-operation with government PHCs and government agencies providing limited quantities of textbooks and medicines. Norjmisjon, Norway supports this low profile intervention.
In 2002 a total 29,065 families were living in 49 relief camps. With the situation in Kokrajhar district having improved considerably in the past couple of years, many people have began returning to their original villages and fields. The government has initiated a conscious process of resettling people. During 2003, 7,885 families from 20 camps received Rs.10,000 as a one time resettlement grant to build houses and buy seed (primarily paddy). Most families have indeed utilised this money to (re)build their houses in the original villages. However, some are finding it difficult to do so, as they have already utilised part of the grant to meet other needs. Most families have by now used the cash relief. Today many of them face serious problems in securing their livelihood and all subsidies from the government have been stopped.
The remaining 21,180 families (1,08,692 persons) are still living in 29 relief camps. Due to shortage of funds, the 10-day food ration per month that the residents used to receive from the Government of Assam has become irregular as of November 2003. The only income they can make is through collection of firewood and seasonal casual labour in the area.
LWSI has been approached by the government authorities and the affected people themselves, to assist in the rehabilitation of those families who have returned to their own lands, by providing a variety of support - infrastructure (roads), housing, drinking water, education and livelihood security - to address the severe economic and social problems. The government is allocating additional land for resettling. LWSI wishes to respond by planning interventions where people have already resettled and to extend this to others as they move into permanent settlements.
Impact on Human Lives
Repeated floods and cyclones in the same areas in Assam left a trail of devastation and caused immense suffering for the most vulnerable. The rapid response interventions were not adequate but were timely and reached the marginalised section of people most affected by the calamities.
The lack of adequate funds to support the resettlement of displaced Sapkata Adivasi and Kasiabari Bodos means that many continue to live in worsening conditions in relief camps and that those who have returned find it extremely difficult to earn a living.
Security risks/political problems:
During early 2003, the Government formed the Bodo Territorial Council for the development of the Bodo territories. Under this Area Development Council, the government absorbed most of the activists and they have become instrumental in re-establishing peace in the area. During the proposed project planning meeting called by LWSI, these council members were also represented and assured their full support in implementing the project. Although Santhals are a minority in the Council, the Bodo group is in agreement with the LWSI recommendation to extend more support to Santhal groups considering their current situation and needs. The Government also extends full co-operation and support to LWSI in the area. Based on this and the assurance from the community leaders, council members and the government officials, LWSI does not anticipate any security / political problems negatively affecting the implementation of the proposed project.
Response from ACT Partners in India
The ACT members, Churches Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) and United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India (UELCI) and LWS India co-ordinated the ACT response to the natural disasters. Since LWS India has been carrying out the responses effectively and has established credibility in these three districts, other ACT Partners felt there was no need for their involvement and recommended that LWSI continue the interventions.
After completion of the ACT appeal projects, LWS India has continued to assist the riot victims living in relief camps in Kokrajar district of Assam in running the schools for children and health support with financial support from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) and Norjmisjon.
Location of Proposed Responses
LWS India plans to extend the support in terms of rehabilitation programmes for the communities affected by natural as well as human made disasters in the districts of Dhubri, Goalpara and Kokrajhar in Assam. Based on the requests from the district government authorities of Assam and after consulting with the other ACT Members in India, LWS India has identified the following areas for its future rehabilitation interventions:
11 relief camps / rehabilitated villages
- The traditional type of houses of the displaced families were damaged by the floods and after the water receded most of the houses collapsed. The more vulnerable families are not able to rebuild without external assistance.
- The people living in remote areas affected by the flooding suffer from an acute lack of potable water. Women have to leave their young children at home and walk long distances to fetch water. This also takes a significant amount of time out of their daily domestic routines.
- School buildings have been damaged beyond repair and children do not attend classes regularly as the environment/situation is not conducive to studying.
- Village/community meetings and social functions are held out in the open due to absence of proper meeting places in the villages affected.
- Village feeder roads have mostly been breached or damaged by floodwater, consequently, people face problems travelling to other villages or to the markets.
- Fruit trees are one means of income, however, most trees around the homesteads have been destroyed by natural and human made hazards.
- Limited knowledge and skills to encounter the problems the communities are facing
- Lack of sustainable livelihood.
The project aims to provide life sustaining assistance to socially and economically marginalised people affected by disasters both natural and human made and enable them to return to "normal" life by addressing identified problems.
- Restore and/or reconstruct community infrastructures damaged by disasters and ensure food security through Food for Work activities.
- Provide access to safe drinking water
- Provide assistance for shelter rehabilitation to the marginalised and socially backward families who lost their dwellings during the disasters.
- To provide training for new livelihood skills for both men and women in the communities affected by disasters.
- To build community based structures to ensure that support provided by LWS India through the project have a longer lasting impact.