Between November 2006 and April 2007, the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) funded a flood response project in Orissa, through the Dan Church Aid (DCA) and its partner Lutheran World Service India Trust (LWSIT). This project targeted 6000 most affected marginalized families in the districts of Kendrapara and Jaipur and added a preparedness component to the relief activities. The aim was to prepare and equip the community for future disasters. In September this year, the village was affected by a 7 to 8 ft flood but the Disaster Management Team that was created in 2007 proved to be effective in reducing life loss in the village.
This 2011 flood was of greater intensity than previous floods faced by the population. Kabir Sahoo, 65 years-old says "The intensity and stagnation of water due to this high flood is beyond imagination.". But "the knowledge and the skills gained by our Disaster Management Team members from different trainings organized in 2007 has helped us in many ways during this flood" explains the Secretary of Mangarajpur Gopalsahi Disaster Management Team.
Mangarajpur Gopalsahi is situated at the brinks of the river Paika, while another river, Luna, is just 1.5km away from the village. These rivers create sorrow for the people during monsoon with flooding damaging lives and livelihood in the village. In 2006-2007, the ECHO-funded project implemented in the village had an emphasis on resilience and on community disaster preparedness. People from the village got actively involved in the project and one of the major achievements was the organization of a Disaster Management Team, composed of 25 active members. All the members were given specific training and grouped into task forces such as Early Warning, Search, Rescue & Evacuation, First aid, etc. Although the project has already phased out in 2009, the trained team is still active and was able to provide necessary assistance, care and support to the village before, during and after the disaster.
During the monsoon season in 2011, the Disaster Management Team followed the news and asked the community to be prepared for possible flooding. In order to be able to evacuate the most vulnerable (mostly pregnant women, elderly and children) to safe place, they built a raft with banana trees. The team also kept some dry rations and non-food items in order to provide cooked food to the village while it was cut-off communication. Thanks to this reserve, they were able to sustain the village for 3 days after the flood.
Due to high flood, two of the existing drinking water tube wells were unsafe for drinking and the government personnel were unable to disinfect the water sources. The Disaster Management Team collected water in water containers thanks to localized rafter and floating devices. As the water receded, the village was left in a smelly and polluted environment as various plants, insects and dead creatures got rotten in the water. The Team applied bleaching powder at the water sources and to drains in the village. Besides, the team also managed to clean water ponds and roads in three villages.
It is worth noticing how effective people's involvement proved to be in Mangarajpur. While the Disaster Management Team continues to be active, families were also able to rebuild themselves houses that were build thanks to ECHO support in 2007 and that included disaster risks elements such as plain cement concrete and raised plinth, allowing them to reconstruct. In fact, most of the support given by ECHO in 2007 could withstand the high 2011 flood.
Dan Church Aid