Community Aid Abroad's Executive Director, Jeremy Hobbs, said after his visit to Orissa shortly after the cyclone: "Here's an example of how relief can be done intelligently and at low cost...On my last day we met with the Xavier Management School who have asked to work through Community Aid Abroad's partner PREM to assist with the contamination of village ponds by dead bodies - one of the most serious threats to survivors. Xavier has assembled volunteer scientists and doctors to go out to the village ponds, assess the bacteria count and treat them one by one. They have an ingenious low cost, non-chemical strategy; introducing carp fingerlings and duckweed which will bring down bacteria levels by 95% (safe enough to bath in), over 15 days and 100% over the next week. At the same time the volunteer doctors will treat people on the spot and talk to the villagers about managing the public health risks."
"Xavier need clear access to villages by organisations with wide and rapid access into the community and without having to deal with government bureaucracies - access which can be cheaply and efficiently supplied by PREM who will offer staff that are trusted by the villagers, as well as vehicles, tents and food. Community Aid Abroad will support this project through funding and the involvement of staff."
The importance of building self-reliance
This region has a history of dependency due to frequent natural disasters and it is important that our response builds on the approach of self-reliance that has characterised our program prior to the cyclone.
The second strand of the strategy is in the area of advocacy - to monitor the relief effort for problems of misallocation and wastage and to ensure that particular groups are not disadvantaged or exploited during the relief and reconstruction process. Community Aid Abroad's comparative advantage is its relationship with local structures that have good access to the most vulnerable populations. Local networks can provide accurate field based information for monitoring and analysis.
The main emphasis will be on re-establishing livelihoods and food security, rather than on relief which can be undertaken by larger agencies. It is unlikely that this region will receive substantial long term funding, and therefore it is vital that we quickly re- establish agriculture and fishing.
The sectors chosen - sustainable livelihoods via re-vegetation and cash crop nurseries and revolving funds for fishing communities - are those where Community Aid Abroad and its partners have a comparative advantage through long-term experience in successfully managing such programs.
Delivery through local NGOs and CBOs will be augmented and supported by Community Aid Abroad's field staff and technical consultants as necessary. Some capital items will be required to facilitate access, including two small boats. Other road transport requirements will be met by vehicle rental.
Future program activities
Sustainable livelihoods and food security
- Re-vegetation and horticulture; nurseries to be established to raise seedlings (coconut, cashew and fuel wood varieties. The nurseries will benefit 20,000 households - approximately 120,000 people. Each household will receive a mix of seedlings to tend. The nurseries will provide employment to landless labourers for 6 months.
- Construction of 5 bore wells for nurseries, provision of pumps and piping.
- Reconstruction of Self Help Group accounts (wherever lost) and general support for SHGs
- Revolving fund to be established for fishing nets, boats, fish trading and for livestock.
- Construction of a few cyclone shelters as models in the coastal villages.
- Liaison with government and financial institutions to obtain housing loans/grants for construction of pucca houses and cyclone shelters
- Assist communities and CBOs, Panchayats in preparing surveys, planning etc
Capacity building will be managed by an experienced Field Co- ordinator responsible to the Community Aid Abroad Field Representative, working with partners and communities with a focus on the following:
- Formation of village committees and CBOs to manage emergency inputs at the village level.
- Capacity building for panchayat representatives and CBOs towards supervision of rehabilitation measures, to ensure people's access to funds (particularly people belonging to Dalit and fisher folk communities,) and to ensure local control over relief inputs.
- Formation of a support team consisting of village volunteers and resource persons (at least two persons per block) to facilitate the above programs and ensure accountability.
- Strengthening of and support for NGO partners' co-ordination committee.