How thousand lives saved from the flood

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Every year when there is intense rainfall in Assam, the people living alongside the Brahmaputra Embankment begin to worry. Communities at the Machkuwa block of Dhemaji district in Assam are subjected to recurrent floods annually. Around 230 families and more than 1000 residents living adjoining the embankment are under constant risk of floods.

This year too, the river crossed the danger level due to heavy rainfall. The agriculture fields were submerged, water rushed into the houses and the condition of the embankment was weakened at two places on 12th July 2020.

The Village Disaster Management Committee (VDMC) informed the Water Resources Department on 11th of July 2020 about the rise of floodwater. Immediately the department responded by sending sand and other materials on the next day. The VDMC members worked day and night and repaired the broken embankment and protected the embankment from breeching and saved the village.

“Many would have been killed if the VDMC members would not have worked day and night to repair the embankment. Earlier we have not seen much cooperation among the village people. But after forming the disaster management committee and receiving training through the Caritas India project, we are motivated to work together and feel safe now,” acknowledged one of the Village person.

In 2018, Caritas India and Women Development Centre, Guwahati formed Village Disaster Management Committee (VDMC) and Task Force Groups (TFGs) at Bahir Janmichuk village under the Build Resilient Communities in the Floodplains of Brahmaputra, Assam project to minimize the risk and prepare the community to assess, analyze and develop risk mitigation plans to increase communities’ preparedness. The members were trained and facilitated to conduct mock drills by the Caritas India in collaboration with the District Disaster Management Authority.

The VDMC along with Village Headman also dialogued with the Mondal circle officer of Dhemaji and mobilized relief items like rice, dal, salt etc. from the district administration and distributed among the village people who have suffered due to floods.

“Whatever comes for the village, we organise with following proper strategy in the selection of beneficiaries, distribution etc. Now we can manage a small issue that arises in the village. Earlier we depend only on the village head man or NGO or Govt.” said Mr. Lilakanta Missong, the empowered member of VDMC.

Though vulnerabilities may emerge, change, compound and persist over long periods, and can contribute to the intergenerational transmission of vulnerability and widening inequalities but what is important is to take proactive measures and actions to mitigate the risk from becoming a disaster.