Early warning system installed by Oxfam in flood prone area of Odisha helps locals

Early warning system installed by Oxfam in flood prone area of Odisha helps locals


Oxfam installs early warning system in flood prone area of #Odisha. Helps locals. Know more. http://bit.ly/1MW2zdt

Read how @OxfamIndia and its partner helped locals in flood prone area of #Odisha. http://bit.ly/1MW2zdt

Balasore is one of the most flood prone districts in Odisha. Recurrent floods in Subrnarekha Basin are devastating. Vulnerable tribal communities suffer huge losses almost every year. 

The frequent loss of crop, livelihood, assets and households have left them at the mercy of money lenders. Loans from non-formal sources are often at very high interest. Households are pushed deeper into the poverty cycle. 

Under the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) work of Oxfam India, our partner Unnayan has tried to minimise the disaster losses through strengthening the early warning systems, search and rescue capacities, community preparedness levels and community’s disaster response capacity.   

Work on the ground

Community based early warning system were strengthened in 10 villages with an objective of mitigating the impact of floods. The main features of the system is as follows:- 

  • Unnayan activates its early warning structures during the monsoon season when the chances of floods are high. A coordinator is designated to coordinate with the district administration for early warnings dissemination.  
  • At the community level, early warning teams are constituted and their capacities are built in surveillance, warning dissemination, evacuation support and relief management. 
  • The traditional methods of warning dissemination (muniadis, blowing conch, beating drums) which are well understood by the communities are promoted. 
  • Community, with support from Unnayan, does a hazard and risk analysis considering the history of floods, vulnerable settlements in the flood prone areas. 
  • The coordinator tracks the water levels in consultation with the office of the central water commission. 
  • Manual 24 hours surveillance is activated when the water reaches the danger level.
  • Water readings are registered manually every half an hour. As soon as the Government warnings are relayed it is disseminated by the coordinator telephonically to each early warning committees
  • The early warning committees then act according to the Government advisories and help their respective villagers in timely evacuation. They are supported by the search and rescue teams to help the disabled, old and trapped people. This team are well trained and equipped with proper search and rescue equipments. 
  • Three Oxfam boats and 10 trained rescue personnel are quickly deployed during floods and work in close coordination with the district administration. 
  • Critical infrastructure such as raised platforms for asset storage are constructed in the most vulnerable villages to help communities protect assets which are difficult to carry during evacuation. 
  • Boats are provided in low-lying villages to ensure that the stranded population has access to critical infrastructures such as drinking water sources, local hospitals, and market during inundation period as well.

A search and rescue team of Unnayan.

“The government recognises our capacity to respond to disasters. This is because we are well prepared and we have good equipments. Our search and rescue team was able to rescue a senior village official in the floods following Cyclone Phailin. We also maintain a register for local water levels,” said Prasant Jena, part of Unnayan’s search and rescue team.


Written by: Oxfam India staff

Photo credit: Oxfam India




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