Pragya works in a number of regions that are climatically and geographically prone to natural disasters, including sudden-onset flooding from cloud bursts and glacial lake outbursts, as well as landslides and forest fires. As a result of the escalating effects of climate change and human pressures on ecosystems, these disasters are increasing in frequency and severity. The last-mile and marginalised communities are the most vulnerable and also the least resilient to such disasters. They are disproportionately hard-hit, suffering severe immediate and longer-term impacts, yet are often neglected in post-disaster relief and rehabilitation efforts.Geographic factors such as isolation and rough terrain and inadequate resources and infrastructure for these groups contribute to significantly high death toll and extensive damage; repeated disasters are also leading to destitution and in several cases, exodus of people from the vulnerable regions, growing the numbers of ‘climate... Read More
Pragya works in a number of regions that are climatically and geographically prone to natural disasters, including sudden-onset flooding from cloud bursts and glacial lake outbursts, as well as landslides and forest fires. As a result of the escalating effects of climate change and human pressures on ecosystems, these disasters are increasing in frequency and severity. The last-mile and marginalised communities are the most vulnerable and also the least resilient to such disasters. They are disproportionately hard-hit, suffering severe immediate and longer-term impacts, yet are often neglected in post-disaster relief and rehabilitation efforts.Geographic factors such as isolation and rough terrain and inadequate resources and infrastructure for these groups contribute to significantly high death toll and extensive damage; repeated disasters are also leading to destitution and in several cases, exodus of people from the vulnerable regions, growing the numbers of ‘climate refugees’.
Comprehensive in its scope, Pragya’s disaster management programme comprises the full package of disaster management interventions. Our award-winning, pre-disaster preparedness model is helping remote communities become more resilient to disasters, facilitating locally-led preparedness for reduced vulnerability. With our long expertise in disaster-prone regions and our well-established links with communities and local authorities, Pragya is uniquely placed to provide timely and effective emergency response in the immediate aftermath of disasters, and in this section you’ll find some examples of our life-saving emergency relief work. Completing the programme is our mid / long-term rehabilitation of disaster-hit communities, employing localised solutions to rebuild the lives of those who have lost everything, and reinvigorating communities as a whole.Show Less
Natural disasters cannot be prevented, although their occurrence and impacts may be mitigated, and the inhabitants of vulnerable regions may therefore have to live with a certain level of risk. Recent disasters in various parts of the world, particularly events in remote areas, have highlighted critical inadequacies in pre- and post-disaster preparedness and the necessary infrastructure and communication networks, which have greatly enhanced the damage through such disasters. Disaster Management systems are characterised by poor outreach to remote areas, and tend to have an exclusive focus on post-disaster emergency relief operations. Vulnerability of remote and marginalised communities and disaster impacts on them is exacerbated due to inadequate preparedness and their low intrinsic capacity - although the communities have to often act as first responders, they lack knowledge of the changing nature of disaster events and possess low capacity to respond adequately. Further, the potential of mitigating disaster risk is not given due attention, although it is now established that inappropriate human development is destabilising the natural hydrological and geographical dynamics of certain environments, and propelling an increase in disaster events and loss of life.
With new thinking, inventive solutions, and a detailed knowledge of the geographic and socio-political landscapes in which we work, Pragya is leading the way towards effective disaster management tailored to specific regions and their unique challenges. Central to our approach is a belief in the power of last mile communities to come together and play a pivotal role in their own disaster management.
We are establishing a dynamic, citizen-led disaster management system, designed by Pragya specially adapted to the last mile. The system was selected as among the Top 20 for the Risk Awardand selected to be showcased as an Innovation at the World Humanitarian Summit- see Awards. Our pioneering approach to disaster management has three central components:
- A pre-disaster citizen-science early warning systemfor improved disaster resilience, comprising disaster-relevant data collection and dissemination, specifically adapted to monitor the top hazards at a given location.
- A decentralised post-disaster response mechanismfor effective coordination between communities and disaster responders, involving a combination of pre-established village-level evacuation plans and improved disaster relief and rehabilitation.
- Alocal network for communicationaround early warning, evacuation and relief & rehabilitation, including trained community Disaster Response Teams connected with communication posts and district government coordination points.
This Disaster Management System is being piloted in selected areas and the evidence collected for future mainstreaming of the approach and tools. Local youth have been trained and developed into Disaster Management Teamswhich have assessed local disaster vulnerability and are working with district governments on risk governance and disaster response. Mobile-enabled technologyhas also been developed for real-time, in-field needs assessment and data relay.
We combine with this innovative structural work,measures to reduce the occurrence of certain disasters in the first place, based on the principles of Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction. We are working with affected communities to change patterns of destructive human activities, by supporting communities to monitor ecosystems and conduct grassroots conservation actions, along with advocacy work and capacity building of local governments with a view to promoting adoption of more appropriate local development and landscape management, for long term disaster risk reduction. See also the Pragya programme on Biodiversity and Habitat Management.
GEOGRAPHY / LOCATION
The Pragya programme on Disaster Resilience and Preparedness is being implemented in the highly vulnerable and disaster-prone Himalayan region in north India, with interventions in the state of Uttarakhand.
The remote regions and harsh climates in which Pragya works are especially prone to natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies. Frequent natural disasters including flooding, earthquakes, forest fires, and landslides, cause huge loss of life, destruction of property and livelihoods, severe health risks and epidemics, psychological trauma, internal displacement and human trafficking. Women, children, older people and people with disabilities are the most vulnerable in these emergency situations. Relief is typically slow to arrive for remote, last mile communities, and at times, does not arrive at all, since localised disaster events in remote areas tend to go unnoticed. Even when relief is made available, in the months and years following a major disaster, when the media spotlight has long since shifted, affected communities continue to face severe hardship and adversity in their daily lives.
Pragya delivers immediate and effective disaster relief, and going beyond that, we stay with the disaster-affected communities to help them build back their lives- better.
In the immediate aftermath of disasters or other crisis situations, Pragya’s numerous field offices, long-standing relationships with local communities and authorities, and extensive experience in emergency relief enables us to act swiftly and effectively, addressing the most urgent needs through the provision of relief material, including temporary shelter and portable toilets, food (including baby food), cooking utensils, safe water, hygiene and sanitation kits, medical supplies and other essentials as fits the need. Pragya networks with other organisations and government agencies for in-field information sharing and coordinated response, and also liaise to help the disaster-affected access government-delivered support or compensation.
Following comprehensive needs assessments, Pragya continues to work with communities to rebuild lives of the disaster-affectedthrough various initiatives, whilst also building their resilience to future disaster events.
- In post-disaster settings, with the destruction of toilets and water sources, waterborne diseases such as dysentery and cholera can reach epidemic proportions, with pregnant women, children, and older people most at risk. We provide water and storage and filtration unitsfor shared community use for the long-term provision of safe drinking water. To help reduce the widespread open defecation that follows disasters, we take up construction of community toilet blocks, with designs adapted to the location.
- Where livelihoods have been permanently destroyed, we initiate both immediate income generation measuresfor the worst off, whilst providing longer-term inputs and training for alternative livelihoods appropriate to the region. Where appropriate, we deliver livelihoods rehabilitation initiativesspecifically targeting women, through the provision of handlooms and accompanying training in traditional handicrafts. We also help smallholding farmers to rehabilitate their farms, and undertake the reconstruction of damaged water sources used for agriculture, so they can begin growing crops again as soon as possible.
- To help mitigate the impacts of disasters on education, we replace lost teaching and learning materials, and where appropriate we work with teachers, parents and peer groups for psychological careof traumatised children.
GEOGRAPHY / LOCATION
Pragya responds to natural disasters in India and has carried out disaster relief and rehabilitation activities to address:
Floods in the southern Indian state of Kerala, 2018: Intense rainfall over a number of days in August 2018, along with release of waters from the several dams in the state of Kerala in southern India led to sudden floods that left many dead and very large numbers without homes, food and water, and basic amenities. Read more
Floods in North India, 2017:As the raging monsoons wreaked havoc in northern India, millions of people were forced out of their homes due to floods and landslides. In the flood-ravaged states of Bihar and Assam, people struggled to meet their basic needs of food, shelter, healthcare.
Nepal Earthquake, 2015: A devastating earthquake of the magnitude 7.8 struck Nepal near Lamjung, 80 kilometers northwest of the capital Kathmandu on 25th April, 2015. Continued aftershocks occurred throughout the country at the intervals of 15–20 minutes, with one shock reaching a magnitude of 6.7 on 26 April. Read more
Floods in Jammu & Kashmir, India, 2014: Torrential rains caused massive destruction and severe distress in the state of Jammu and Kashmir with several fatalities and large numbers displaced. Several houses, especially in low-lying areas, have been washed away or entirely damaged. Read more
Flash-flood in the Himalayas, 2013: The Himalayan states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh were hit by torrential rain, landslides and flash floods on 14-17th June 2013, leaving several thousand people dead and several thousand more destitute, having lost all assets and their livelihoods. For years thereafter, the survivors struggled to rebuild their lives and recover from their trauma. Read more
Flashflood in Ladakh, India, 2010: A cloudburst on 10thAugust led to sudden mud-slides in the districts of Leh and Kargil, that carried every home, human, animal, inexorably along with them, and leaving a land devastated. The rehabilitation was slow and painful. Read more