The North-East Affected Area Development Society (NEADS), a local organization, has initiated a project to help the people of the flood-prone areas in Golaghat to cope with disaster and poverty.

The organisation has been doing a yeoman’s service in promoting preparedness and resilience in people affected by floods on an annual basis.

NEADS joint director Tirtha Prasad Saikia said Mahuramukh area and its vicinity, located in the floodplain along the bank of river Brahmaputra and its tributaries, Gelabil and Dhansiri in Golaghat district, are highly prone to water-induced disasters such as flood and erosion.

The flood-prone areas fall under the Bokakhat block of Golaghat district.

“Floods affect all aspects of land, lives and livelihoods of communities living in the areas to a large degree, leaving people homeless and displaced, destroying crops, damage public property and infrastructures which cripple people’s resilience and intensify the poverty,” he said.

“With an aim to increase community’s capability to anticipate and prepare for disasters and promoting a culture of prevention and preparedness through enhancing knowledge and innovation, NEADS has been working to increase affected people’s resilience and adaptive capacity to disaster floods,” he said.

The project is funded by Mercy Relief, a non-governmental humanitarian organization of Singapore.

The project was started during September 2020.

It is now being implemented in eight villages under Disoi and Uttar Mahura Gaon Panchayat under Bokakhat block where around 4,500 people are being targeted as direct beneficiaries.

“The core thrust areas of the project are to build community capacity in disaster risk management, promoting flood-resistant water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), resilient livelihood initiative, disaster preparedness and its mainstreaming in local government,” Saikia further said.

NEADS has found that an annual disaster in the projected area has had an enormous impact on development.

“With every flood or other forms of allied disaster, there is a significant impact on various sectors of development like agriculture, housing, health, education and infrastructure.”

“This impact in a serious social and economic setback to the development and poverty reduction programmes of the community. Hence, such systematic approach of identifying, assessing and reducing the risks of such disasters will help people in terms of building their local capacities in responding to a humanitarian crisis in communities,” Saikia further said.

As part of the intervention, NEADS has been institutionalising the flood-affected people to community-level disaster mitigation institutions. This grassroots institutional mechanism is to prepare the community to meet emergencies like flood and the allied disasters faced by them.

NEADS will undertake vulnerability and capacity assessment of the targeted villages, prepare village contingency plan, held risk mapping and safety planning, establish community resource centre for education, information and awareness on disaster risk reduction.

In promoting flood-resistant water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), the organisation is working on installation of flood-resistant hand pumps and sanitation structures.

It is imparting community-level training and awareness on public health in emergencies, undertaking water chlorination drive, proving various inputs support tools and equipment and water treatment units to most vulnerable families.

NEADS is also planning to initiate sensitization programmes on children risks and their safety in school and also promote child-centred public health preparedness.

Smita Bhattacharyya

Smita Bhattacharyya is Northeast Now Correspondent in Jorhat. She can be reached at: triptyaddy@gmail.com