Sharing knowledge and scaling protective measures

Not only the children and women in Pune have learned how to protect themselves from dangers and risks. The project team, too, has learned which methods work well and which don't. Other people are now to benefit from their experience.

Remote location: Jawhar Taluka
Jawhar Taluka lies in the Palghar district in the state of Maharashtra. The region is considered to be one of the poorest in all of India. Ninety per cent of the population – roughly 130,000 people – belong to tribal-specific ethnic groups. The technical and social developments currently taking place at a hurtling pace in the urban centres of India pass by this region almost unnoticed. Hunger, malnutrition and poverty are constant companions of its inhabitants.

During a field-trip, the RISK Award team provides insights about risk-hotspots in Slum areas in Mumbai.

The clans (tribal people) live under very difficult geographic conditions in a countryside riven by mountains and almost inaccessible valleys. Many of the villages are not yet connected to a road or pathway system. Given the almost 2,500 millilitres of precipitation per year – roughly three times the volume in Munich, for example – floods, mudslides and landslides are not uncommon events.

The right motivation is important
The RISK Award team from AIILSG is working in 12 municipalities to transfer knowledge gained in Pune into action in this region as well. Two villages, Behelpada and Kirmire, are particularly threatened by natural hazards. A nearby river unleashes heavy floods almost every year during the monsoon season. When this happens, people are completely cut off from the outside world for days on end, sometimes even for weeks, as they were this year again. For seven days, the people had no access to fresh drinking water or food. Mukesh Kanaskar, the Director of AIILSG, explains: "The people affected are frustrated because they see no way out. Efforts at simple solutions, such as building a reinforced bridge against the floods, are no longer even being attempted. At the moment, the most important thing is to take people seriously and motivate them to do something again!"

AIILSG will now carry out risk reduction measures in cooperation with youth groups in Behelpada drawing on the experience gained in Pune. As an initial technical support, the villagers will receive the custom-designed RISK Award Disaster Emergency Kits already being used in Pune.

Ram Nagar Slum, Thane City, Mumbai – Urbanisation as a risk
Rapid, often unplanned, urbanisation is also an important topic in India's regional planning. Large cities, in particular, are bursting at the seams. Best example: Mumbai. In 1990, the agglomeration area had about ten million inhabitants, today it has twenty million. Its growth cannot be fully controlled, often resulting in slums. Some are officially registered, many were built without permission.

Kanaskar explains the DRR approach of AIILSG on a panel at the "UNICEF Global Urban Climate Consultation" conference. 

AIILSG has selected the Ram Nagar Slum in Thane, on the outskirts of Mumbai. The RISK Award project is being multiplied here, first successes have been achieved. Action is urgently needed in the face of population density, poverty, population growth, monsoon rains, floods and landslides leading to a dangerous mix of hazards for the people. As many slum-dwellers are illiterate, the "Self-Assessment and Planning Tool", developed in cooperation with the slum inhabitants in Pune, is also proving its worth in Mumbai. "Using this participatory method of risk analysis, we are at the spearhead of a modern urban development," emphasises Kanaskar. Their efforts are being rewarded with no small success: the "Global Urban Climate Consultation" Conference took place in Mumbai from 24 to 26 October. Along with the city council of Mumbai, the hosts also included UNICEF and representatives of the Maharashtra government. They praised the progress being made in the RISK Award Project, underscoring AIILSG's methods as a good example.

The results from the rural region and the mega city of Mumbai, as well as the response from the authorities, are an important incentive for the RISK Award team to continue the project. It wants to reach even more people and help them prepare themselves better for disasters.

CB, 21 November 2016

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