Bihar designs a 15-year roadmap to reduce risk of disaster

Bihar designs a 15-year roadmap to reduce risk of disaster

Bihar is the first Indian state to develop a Road Map on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015 in an effort to build the resilience of at-risk communities living in disaster-prone areas.
"Relief can sustain me for a few days, but preparedness will help me to live longer", says Gudiya Devi, a resident of Jaja village in Katihar, in an interview to an Oxfam India personnel deployed at a relief and response program in Katihar. Devi lives alone as her husband passed away sometime back and her daughters have been married in distant villages. The 2016 floods in Bihar took 254 lives and affected around 9 million people. It was in this year that DRR roadmap was approved by the Cabinet.

In the year 2015, leaders of the world had reviewed the progress on ‘Hyogo Framework’ and the new framework on Disaster Risk Reduction came into effect at Sendai (Japan) during Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. Leaders from 190 countries had participated and signed their commitments of reducing the loss of life and livelihoods from disasters either man-made or natural. This framework has seven targets and 4 priorities.

Why does Bihar need a road map for Disaster Risk Reduction?

Historically Bihar has been the most disaster-affected state of India. With technical experts from development sectors, Government of Bihar formed a committee on Disaster Risk Reduction and discussed broadly the framework to be adopted by the government. The first conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (BCDRR) conducted with a commitment from Chief Minister Mr. Nitish Kumar as ‘राज्य के ख़जाने पर आपदा प्रभावितों का पहला हक़ है’ (The disaster affected people have the first right on the state’s treasury). It witnessed experts from various states and other countries who provided their inputs. The Drafting committee, under the chairmanship of Vyas Ji with the experts from Bihar on Disaster Risk Reduction which included Oxfam India and its partners IDF and Adithi played the major role in formulating the action points for Bihar Disaster Risk Reduction road map. With few more steps like validation from other departments, INGOs, NGOs and communities, followed by approval from the government cabinet had led the way for the new era where the Government had taken the first step towards Disaster Risk Reduction in a multi-hazard context and become first of its kind in Asia and in the world, to develop the roadmap based on the Sendai Framework. Bihar had adopted 4 targets out of total target from Sendai Framework.  

Total targets adopted

The road map envisioned to build Bihar as Resilient Bihar by 2030 and it is supported by five pillars i.e. 

  1. Resilient Villages, 
  2. Resilient Livelihoods, 
  3. Resilient Basic Services, 
  4. Resilient Critical Infrastructures and 
  5. Resilient Cities. 

Targets have been divided into milestones to be achieved by– 2020, 2025 and 2030.  

Actions implemented since the draft

Two consecutive years i.e. 2016 and 2017 were the preparatory years for the government when Roadmap Implementation Support Unit (RISU) had been formed in Disaster Management Department as well as a Nodal Officer being appointed for each department to oversee better coordination among various departments. 

Three priority sectors have been identified as agriculture, health and disaster management focusing on three high priority districts in the state. This roadmap has ensured the last mile connectivity where the community-centric approach is defined and series of training on disaster risk reduction have taken place in last three years like training of mason and engineers on earthquake resistant housing construction, training of PRIs, Nagar Parishad members, veterinary doctors, school teachers, officials from Bihar Administrative services, boatman and volunteers on different aspects of technical requirements for Disaster Risk Reduction. A ‘Cascade model’ was widely implemented where master trainers were trained at the State level and these trainers had facilitators for training districts and block levels counterparts. Resilient Village Programs were also launched recently to talk about community-centric approaches to be adopted by the government.

Read more about India’s efforts in Disaster risk reduction here.

Challenges in implementing the roadmap

A wider implementation of this roadmap is challenging due to lack of will power of the government to effectively map manpower as per the strategy. Synchronization of the Annual Operational Plan of line department through the Disaster Risk Reduction lens is yet to be formulated. Establishment of review mechanism with the technical committee has also been delayed. Progress during the last three years has not been appreciable and it is extremely difficult to achieve the targeted milestone by 2020.

There are numerous examples of delayed responses or change in the personnel at critical positions like District Disaster Management Plans (DDMPs) supposed to steer the strategy for the districts on which they can frame their action for disaster risk reduction. 

This roadmap is a milestone for the government and provides hope to the people of Bihar who have faced multiple disasters since 1934 but the pace of implementation is slow. Disaster Management Department of Bihar needs a dedicated person to lead this and the other officials who have sound knowledge need to be placed in this nodal department. Coordinated efforts within civil societies, among line department, districts administration, blocks and elected representative of communities is the need of the hour for the implementation of this roadmap. Serious attention is needed to fix responsibilities and accountability to actualize the dream of a resilient Bihar and set an example for other states in India.

Humanitarian Response and DRR

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