Rebuilding Uttarakhand

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India’s worst natural disaster after 2004 Tsunami, hit the Rudraprayag, Uttarkashi, Chamoli and Tehri regions of Uttarakhand in June 2013. Flash floods swept away lives and livelihoods of over 10 lakh people in the state. Government figures say that 1000 people were dead and over 5500 are missing.

What happened?

  • Uttarakhand flash floods of June 2013 were one of the worst disasters that the state ever witnessed.
  • 4200 villages were affected
  • 500,000 people were affected from the disaster.
  • Government figures say that 5500 people were killed in the disaster. Unofficial numbers are much higher.
  • 110,000 people, mostly pilgrims, were trapped in the mountains.
  • More than a 100 villages were inaccessible for over two months after the disaster.
  • Tourism sector, which contributes close to 30-35 % of the Uttarakhand’s GDP, faced a loss of more than Rs 10,000 Crore.
Two years on

Oxfam India has been implementing livelihood programmes in Uttarakhand post the disaster in 2013.

With our partner organisation JANDESH in Chamoli district, HPSS & HARC in Uttarkashi district, MVDA & DKD in Tehri Garwal district & JVS in Rudraprayag district, work was initiated to restore the livelihoods of affected communities.

Post the floods, the primary focus & need of the people in the affected regions was to revive their existing livelihood, which predominantly was agriculture.

After two years, gradually people have started overcoming the experience of disaster. Regular visits and informal meetings enabled them to come out, talk and share their problems with a purpose to seek solutions and make efforts to remove them. Initiative to restore their livelihood helped them to come out of the distress situation & look forward.

Post disaster relief work:

• Oxfam reached over 8000 households in Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi district,

• 7980 households were reached with emergency shelter materials like blankets; 4055 households with tarpaulins, ground sheet and hygiene kits; and 3582 with solar lamps 1331 households were supported with food aid during the critical period immediately after the disaster.

• Cash for Work for 980 households. More than 50% of the people supported through these interventions were women.

• In the districts of Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi, we along with our partners, supported 48,100 people by improving their access to food security and safe water and promoting public health.

• 53 households were given Transitional Shelter Kits.

• 74 households were given Toilet Construction Kits.

• 1,331 households were given food-aid, air-drops by the Air Force helicopters to the inaccessible areas.

• 560 households given ‘Unconditional Cash Transfers’ as a part of our Emergency Food Security and Vulnerable Livelihood (EFVSL) intervention.

• 980 households given ‘Cash for Work ‘ under EFVSL

• 373 households assisted with ‘Cash Transfer Programmes’ as emergency relief.

• Villages helped with the development work including road repairs.

Oxfam's response to the disaster

Oxfam India was one of the first relief organisations to reach Uttarakhand in the aftermath of the disaster. We reached out to over 8,000 households in Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi districts, which were the worst hit. Operations were scaled up once the initial target of 4,000 households was met.

Responding to the crisis, Oxfam India and our partners Jan Vikas Sansthan (JVS) and Himalayee Paryawaran Shiksha Sansthan (HPSS) focused on life-saving support. We provided food to meet people's immediate needs. We then provided long-term solutions, including transitional shelters, cash transfers to secure food needs and improving people’s access to markets,

In the districts of Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi, we along with our partners, supported 48,100 people by improving their access to food security and safe water and promoting public health.

The rebuilding and humanitarian rehabilitation continues in the region where people live under the shadow of landslides, soil erosion, heavy rainfall, drying rivers and melting snow.

The road ahead

Uttarakhand continues to be affected by landslides, soil erosion, heavy rainfall, drying rivers, melting glaciers and a degraded ecosystem. The people of the state face threats to their livelihood, if the ongoing short term and long term measures aren’t supported.

Oxfam India is working on the ‘Long Term Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Work’ of the state by teaching farmers sustainable agricultural methods such as rice and wheat intensification. Over 700 farmers received farm inputs, seeds, and vermin under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).

The communities have been taught to use low cost technology to convert organic waste into compost. Fodder plantation was started in villages, to combat overgrazing, that results in desertification of nearby areas. Low cost Poly Houses and Water Harvesting Tanks were built, as models for the community to continue building on their own.