A study by Bogazici University inTurkey after the earthquake concluded that, fifty Local Knowledge on addressing
percent injury results from non-structural causes during an earthquake. These Disaster Preparedness
injuries could be prevented by taking basic preparedness measures at household level
such as securing furniture and other heavy, tall objects likely to fall on people. If
people can employ simple, preventive measures in future, the drain on limited medical
resources in the developing countries and associated life and livelihood losses would
be dramatically reduced [IFRCRCS, 52600 11/2003. January 2005].
Local knowledge facilitate
DIPECHO ........... effective preparedness
DIPECHO, put into operation by nine
partners in Nepal, is essentially about "Chachaka" - Circular mud repository in Katarait VDC, Dhanusausa
connecting concerned components within District of Nepal which has unique "pigeon holes" type design is related
with Maithili tradition. This structure is not found in every house.
the society to nurture partnerships. This Only elderly women of Maithili community have knowledge to build
partnership is viewed to contribute to disaster this sort of structure. It requires about two weeks of work to make a
risk reduction by enhancing community
preparedness, institutional responsiveness, These mud-made repositories provide an
and legal protection of the affected people, alternative way of storing the materials. People
and, through eliminating the adverse impacts use mud as wood is much more expensive
of flood, land slide, river erosion and and less availability. This structure not only
earthquake. In facilitation, the DIPECHO relates just as storage but it refers to a holistic
projects have nurtured large number of people (Shreepur VDC, Sarlahi District knowledge embedded in local coping
like poor women headed households, strategies, local warning systems, local
"The river and the snake never go straight -"
marginalized groups, ethnic minorities, youth a local proverb.
weather forecasts, local practices on natural
volunteers groups, business groups, local Local and indigenous knowledge also play resources management, local institutional
government officials, civil society through vital role on mitigation of disaster and arrangements etc.
activities like developing materials (with calamities. In many societies people recalls Small and valuable belongings can be kept
peoples voices, assessment, priorities, needs the disaster happenings through story telling,
songs, poems, proverbs, rituals and there safely from water and no reach of
and much more), workshops etc. For children. Such local and indigenous
ceremonies. These are the communication
disseminating community based risk tools through which community express the knowledge on disaster preparedness is
reduction concepts, DIPECHO partners in feelings. On such context - recording or understood here not only as technical
Nepal have adopted an unexplored but documenting such community practices and knowledge but also as a combination of
priceless approach of linking disaster knowledge could become effective tools institutional, socio-cultural, and environmental
threatened people of multiple social spheres, and methods for the external actors to
understand the causes and easy way to knowledge. In many cases, local knowledge
contrary to conventional approaches seeking and practices have not been specifically
only monetary and technical input oriented address and work together on disaster
preparedness in affected communities. designed for disaster preparedness per se, but
solutions. can contribute towards it.
Youth volunteers: Key to
community mobilization and
motivation for preparedness
Bishnu Nepali, Volunteer, Nepal Red Cross
Society Disaster Preparedness Unit, Shivnagar
Bishnu Nepali, a 19 years old college girl is student
of demography. She attends her college in the morning
.Then in afternoon she works with the Community
Disaster Preparedness unit of NRCS as a volunteer.
She is now working as a community trainer for the
The river primarily threatens the community forest where local
people have relied upon for their livelihoods. It is valuable asset,
Bishnu has actively participated in 11 days training as livestock fodder and fire wood is collected from here in a
workshop on disaster preparedness which make her sustainable manner. On the above picture it can be seen that
spurs have protected the river bank, but massive erosion took
to get involve on such humanitarian worker. place where the bank is unprotected.
As a volunteer Bishnu have been facing challenges while
serving in community but she is taking this as opportunity
to make community aware of disaster preparedness. "It
is difficult to maintain community awareness and
motivation to prepare for impending disasters, "she says
"but as we start trainings and conduct regular meetings
and discussion in the village to raise this awareness and
motivation people are listening us. On recent flood
occurred on last August, we collectively repaired the
damaged draining tubes and constructed small check
Bishnu has actively participated in 11 days training
workshop on disaster preparedness which make her to
get involve on such humanitarian worker.
We learned a lot on disasters and how to be prepared
for them. First Aid training, rescue techniques and a
survey of the environment to identify major risks and
safe areas are some of the things that I learned during
my training, says Bishnu as a NRCS volunteer; I am
working in my own community. I realize that it is
important to do something useful for my village. We live
close to the river and we are in threat of flood. So there
is urgency to implement infrastructural works to secure
our livelihoods and community in the future.
As Nepal is increasingly hard hit by natural
disasters, on such scenario - there is realization
of projects to strengthen community resilience
are of the utmost importance. Community
resilience is an example of how a group can be
motivated and its resilience can be strengthened.
It also replaces a fatalistic attitude towards
disasters by an active anticipation and reduction
of their impacts.
Shivanagar DP unit office of Nepal Red Cross Society
Ensuring Water rights for the people under
potential threat of earthquake in kathmandy
preparedness, UNICEF has again system in Lalitpur. UNICEF with
found momentum on water supply the help of DIPECHO and its 9
project in the Lalitpur area. About implementing partners have agreed
10 evacuation sites have been to provide some back up
identified and endorsed by
government authorities throughout As a result five strategic tube well
the Lalitpur. The sites will have a sites have been selected for re-
combined capacity to accommodate development and will include back
over 57,000 people that would be up power supply, earthquake
homeless in the event of an resistant buildings and structures,
earthquake that is predicted to hit fuel storage capacity, new high
the Kathmandu Valley. When these
capacity pumps and water treatment
destitute and vulnerable populations
systems. Plans are also underway
arrive at these sites, one of the first
for a mass media campaign notifying
needs is to ensure the availability of
water. It has been predicted there people where they should go and
Map3 Final evacuation sites and deep tube well
will be a total collapse of public what they can do as a family to
locations to be developed to protect and safeguard
life and prevent water borne disease outbreaks. water supply of the already prepare for an earthquake in
overstressed and erratic water piping Kathmandu." - UNICEF, Feb 2007
Women in Andupatti VDC believe that
they are more vulnerable than men to
natural disasters. We wear Sari, which
makes us difficult to run and we are
worried about our children how to
make them safe. Yet, until recently,
the women of Andupatti VDC have
not had the chance to address their
gender specific vulnerabilities. They
have not chances to participate in
planning or training for disaster
response. Like many women around
the world, prevailing gender rules and
norms have been denied them the both
the right to access information and
resources and the right to make
Wisdom of the Women in strategic decisions that impact their
lives and the lives of their families.
contextualizing DP training to Women in Andupatti VDC live in an
practice extremely conservative society, where
they are often not allowed to speak to
people outside their own family, let
alone get involved in community
Women in Andupatti VDC are proving themselves to make contribution decision making about disaster
on communitys disaster preparedness. We have two hands just like preparedness. Moreover, their capacity
men and have capacity to address the problems as men do, a female to contribute to their families and their
disaster risk reduction committee member alleged, we bet we can plant communities disaster preparedness is
even more tree seedlings to prevent soil erosion than the men". ignored and left untapped.
Andupatti VDC is extremely prone
to flooding. The VDC is situated
along the bank of the Jaladh River.
Every year, the occurring of floods
in this VDC has affected nearly 90
percent population of this village.
Every year people of this VDC are
experiencing the water level rising.
When DIPECHO SAMADHAN
held its first community training on
disaster preparedness, women used
to sit at the back and all were silent.
But later, only two women had been
willing to participate as members of
the disaster risk reduction
committee. They sat quietly during
meetings. Realizing this as a serious
concern, DIPECHO SAMADHAN
staffs approached an elderly woman Because there is equal representation to participate in the actual plantation
of this VDC and asked for her help. of women on the disaster risk of the tree seedlings, because, as one
As a former health extension reduction committee, women will woman said, We have two hands
volunteer, she has influence in now also have a say in what small- just like men. They have even
community, particularly with other scale mitigation measures restarted savings and loans groups,
women. They listen to her and show communities will design, implement which had become defunct several
great respect to her. With moving and maintain. They will also play years ago. They intend to put the
the time, with her help, more women an active role in finalizing money they save toward disaster
gradually became actively engaged community contingency plans and preparedness.
in the project. simulating community evacuation
drills. Women in Andupatti asked for a
Eventually, a tipping point was chance to prove that they can
reached. Women have gained Women in Andupatti now move with contribute just as much or even
momentum. The number of women plans. They intend to improve morethan their husbands, fathers and
on the Andupatti disaster risk sanitation in their community, plant brothers to disaster preparedness.
reduction committee increased from tree seedlings to prevent soil erosion, Through the project like DIPECHO
two to five (out of a total of 11 and protect the banks of the Jaladh SAMADHAN, they are getting that
members). These five women have River. They want to influence chance. It will be important to
influence on the committee and are decisions on which seedlings to plant continue documenting their
proud of the fact that they are and where to plant them. They want accomplishments and lessons
increasing womens participation in
disaster preparedness trainings and
events. Every single woman in our
village should benefit from this
project, they say. They believe that
it is their participation on the disaster
risk reduction committees that is
now leading to more gender equity
in disaster preparedness.
Women are taking pride in their
disaster preparedness measures
storing grains for the monsoon
season, building raised storage
shelves, and keeping important
documents, such as citizenship
certificates, in safe places. They are
participating actively in community
trainings on disaster preparedness.
learned in order to facilitate similar Dhanusa, Mahottari and Sarlahi to parity. The case of Andupatti VDC,
processes in other vulnerable identify, prepare for, respond to, however, offers a powerful lesson
communities. and mitigate the impact of natural on how to raise awareness about
hazards. The project began in the importance of including women
With funding from the European February 2006, and over the past in disaster preparedness planning
Commissions Humanitarian Aid year, more and more women have and training. It is also a lesson on
department, CARE Nepal and its become engaged in disaster how women, when given the
local partners, SUYUK, JAN, and preparedness and mitigation. In chance, can contribute a great deal
LDTC, are raising awareness of 48 some VDCs, CARE and its local to disaster preparedness at both the
communities in the districts of . partners still struggle with gender household and community levels.
School Saved from
Sundarpur V.D.C is 10 km west
from the district headquarter of
Malangawa which is adjoined with
Lakhandehi River. This village is
highly prone to flood and every year
people experiencing the loss of life
and livelihoods. "It has made us
worried, every year we are loosing
our relatives and the properties"
Ram Sundar Thakur of this villages
expresses his grief.
There is Devdhari Secondary
School in Ward 9 of this VDC where
about 700 children of different age
groups are getting education. Due
to heavy rainfall last year which school. Shree Gagandav Thakur, dam. Local people put up their free
causes heavy flood in Lakhandeni teacher of the school recalls "last labor. "Our small contribution
river. This heavily flooded river year too- flood surrounded the created the appropriate environment
flown from middle of the school school from every corner which for the children to study in school
which largely cut the land. Loads cause trouble in running the regular easily," says Project Co-ordinator
of sand deposited in the school class for about one and half month.." Krishna Hari Paneru , "Dalits also
premises due to which the School now feel safe to be here."
closed. "Flood have been affecting The 50 households of Saraswati tole
our study every year," says Dilip of Laxmipur V.D.C. which is close Gratitude has shown from every
Kumar Poudel, student of the to this school are also heavily corner of this community for this
affected by the flood occurring genuine task to mitigate disaster.
every year which have made their "We put this problem to many
life miserable. Since last March organization and many places for
2006, DIPECHO Project has the support, but nobody os ready.
initiated its program implemented It was beyond attention and we feel
by Action Aid throug local partner sad and serious about the matter,"
PRERANA. This school and these says Udit Narayan Jha, headmaster
Dalit dwellings were detected as of the School "DIPECHO project
the most sensitive area by this heard the voice of our community
project. Decisions have been made and supported us." Jha adds," The
to construct dam over Lakhandehi flood was the burning problem of
River. With joint efforts of the local this village. Even the government
people and the DIPECHO initiative- was silent for this issue but
have constructed 80 feet long dam DIPECHO has done a lot for us.
(piling of bamboo and filling sack) We are very much happy. "
"I could have saved
my husband's life"
Rupakali Darlami Magar, 45 years
old widow from Makrahar-6,
Bhulkedanda, is a treasurer of DMC
(Disaster Management Committee)
formed under DIPECHO project in
Rupandehi District. Rupakali is also
member of Kalika Community
Forestry Group in Makrahar VDC
and the President of a CBO formed
by Children Development
Community Organization. In the
3rd Quarterly Review Meeting
(QRM) organized under DIPECHO
Project, AAIN, she revealed a very
thought provoking story.
Here is her story:
"I am 45 years in age and my
husband died five years ago. I am
illiterate, can hardly read a word
and cannot think to write. I was
simply a village dweller, having a One day again very big pain on the way leaving me alone. This
normal life. Then, series of troubles happened in my live which created is life; I could not go with him. But
came to my life. We displaced by disaster in my life. It was my I struggled to lead the life in full
flood hat occurred in 1993 which misfortune to see body of my strengths.
compelled us to leave from our place husband floating on the bank of
where we had been residing for river. It was close from where we These days I am engaged with some
years. After that we started to stay used to reside. I was shocked and community based organizations. I
on public land which we can never worried and approached towards am also treasurer of the DMC in
claim of ours. With the time our him without any delay. He was still Makrahar VDC. As my husband
family has been adjusted with this breathing, so I make arrangements had been died due to flood, I have
misfortune. to take him to the nearest hospital. deep feelings that we need to do
But efforts became useless. He died something from ourselves within
the community to protect ourselves,
at least till the time and position
that we will be able to seek the
external support. When I got First
Aid Training in DIPECHO Project
implemented by Action Aid Nepal,
I suddenly realized that I could have
saved my husband's life. I could
have provide him artificial
respiration and made him alive till
reaching the hospital.
This is the change that I am feeling
in my life which has been brought
by DIPECHO project. Now, I am
telling each and everyone about the
importance of local capacity
building and knowledge to save the
lives from disaster so that people
do not loose their nearest and dearest
Community built completed the activities at low cost
in compare to that government
Check Dams are cost spends over. We have set the
effective example and it should be considers
An interview with as model. We are transparent and
Loknath Pandey accountable to community. Our
President, Disaster Management program's budget is approved with
Committee, the endorsement from the
Basamadi, Makwanpur. community.
1. Why it is essence to form DMC? 5. How you have been established
the coordination with related
We live in Basamadi VDC of stakeholders?
Makwanpur district which is in great
threat of flood and landslides. The Coordination is actually very
community has been affected from difficult task. But we have common
disaster since last 7-8 years. For the challenge and thus have common
reduction and the control of disaster agenda of mitigating the disaster.
we are engaged in community We h a v e e s t a b l i s h e d g o o d
activities by mobilizing local coordination with all stakeholders
3. How do you plan for the project
resources. to alleviate the existing challenges.
and for its implementation?
Then we came in contact with Action 6. What do you think to make the
With participatory approaches
Aid Nepal and get the idea of disaster DMC more active?
priority areas area are figure out to
preparedness. Then, DMC was set the agendas. Then the community First of all DMC should have their
formed and some awareness members plan the project. Then, we own office building and it needs
advocacy programs were lunched regularly conduct discussions with direct funding support. As the NGOs
with the support of AAN-DIPECHO. concerned authorities of government are in town and DMC are based in
With the formation of DMC, we are and non governments and find out disaster prone areas, DMC knows
encouraged to engage on disaster the appropriate way of reducing the the real field situation. Therefore, it
management efforts. disaster and also for the funding is better to establish direct relation
2. Do you think there is equitable support. Community members are with the DMC by the donor
participation of all level in DMC? contributing their efforts by agencies.
collecting funds and contributing
There is 33 percent representation Nepal government should allocate
from women. Similarly, Dalit and budget for the DMC through VDC
Janjatis are also equally included in and DDC. DMC should be
4. Is there transparency in fund
our programs. Youth disaster mobilized to aware the community
mobilization and working style?
management committee has also about the disaster management. All
been formed and there too we see Yes. We have accomplished the the agencies should work in favor
women and girl's active participation. work in cost effective ways. We have of DMC.
We have tried to document some experience from Community based
Disaster Risk Reduction projects implemented by the DIPECHO partners
at local and national level. THese case studies and interviews might be
helpful to get some insight of the strength of CBDRR and we can build
on that in the coming future for a national level CBDRR programme to
make the community more resilienet to disaster risks.
Community based early
We welcome your comments,
warning towers in suggestion and feedbacks
Chitwan by practical action
Further Contact: Shashanka Saadi, Project Manager, Building Community
Resilience to Disasters, DIPECHO-AAIN
You can also visit:
www.dipechonepal.org and www.disasterpreparedness.icimod.org
Contributors: Christina Chan, Selina Chan, Sten Van Leuffel,
Julie Dickens, Mats Eriksson, Suresh Pokharel, Arbind Patel,
Megh Ranjani Rai, Dipak Acharya, Peter Crawford,
This newsletter has been produced by ActionAid Nepal with the financial assistance of the European Community.
The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Community