In the course of resilience building, local government can play a critical role. Same has been demonstrated by the Uria Union Disaster Management Committee members. Situated on the bank of River Brahmaputra, Uria is amongst the most vulnerable unions of Fulchari Upazilla under Gaibandha District. Almost every year a share of the union is eroded by the river leaving hundreds of people homeless. Islamic Relief and its local implementing partner Smamj Kalyan Santha (SKS) started implementing the DIPECHO project in Gaibandha from 2011 funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO).
As part of strengthening local disaster management component, the Union Disaster Management Committee at Uria was reactivated in accordance with the guidelines under the Standing Order on Disasters of Bangladesh. As part of awareness and capacity building process, the committee members were sensitized to consider disaster risk and vulnerability context of the locality while undertaking local development initiatives. To this end, inclusion of vulnerable community members in the social safety net program was one of the strategies undertaken by the project to mainstream resilience into development.
Women laborer working in the 40 days cash for work program; Photo: SKS
In persistence of the effort, Uria Union Disaster Management Committee recently completed 40 days’ cash for work program where 245 day laborers from 9 villages worked for 40 days to construct an earthen road. Out of the 245 laborers, 195 were women workers; 11 of them having a family member with disability. “While selecting the workers for the program, the DMC prioritized women and people who have elderly family members and with disability” said the UP Chairman and President of the Union Disaster Management Committee. He added, “During our monthly meeting, SKS highlighted the vulnerability context of such members of our community. Also during the community risk assessment process, special emphasis was given to assess the vulnerability and special needs of these marginalized community members”. Inspired by the action, the Upazilla Executive Officer (UNO) of Fulchari allocated 20 tube-wells in Uria and Fazlupur unions where women and elderly people were prioritized.
Uria’s Union Disaster Management Committee is committed to endure similar initiatives in future. “The goal of the safety net program is to ensure subsistence support to the poorest. With this approach, we can not only support those in need, but reduce risk of our locality” said a member of the committee. He added, “With the help of our Ward level Disaster Management Committee, we are identifying such vulnerable members in our locality who will be prioritized for similar future initiatives.”
The initiative might be small but the very essence of Rural CBDP model lies within this approach of strengthening local government to ensure mainstreaming of DP/DRR into local development planning and implementation process.