It is more than two years since the terrible earthquake struck Gujarat. In this period the catastrophe-struck areas have witnessed rehabilitation work on an enormous scale. The Disaster Mitigation Institute, an Ahmedabad-based community action hub, evaluated the relief measures undertaken by the government and humanitarian agencies in the aftermath of the calamity
Learning from the Gujarat quake
It is more than two years since the terrible earthquake struck Gujarat. In this period the catastrophe-struck areas have witnessed rehabilitation work on an enormous scale. The Disaster Mitigation Institute, an Ahmedabad-based community action hub, evaluated the relief measures undertaken by the government and humanitarian agencies in the aftermath of the calamity. It concluded that while the tragedy has taught important lessons, many critical ones still remain to be learnt.
Gujarat has immensely bolstered its mechanism to face up to a crisis like this by purchasing and pooling tools, equipments and by developing a well-connected system to conduct rescue and search operations. The state can now also avoid the common mismanagement that hampers relief operations in India. It has built up, in a short span of time, an institutional mechanism in the form of Gujarat State Disaster Management Association that can reach out to people in the face of any natural calamity without slowing down government functions. The importance of institutional capacities especially for management of finance and administrative coordination is realised in government relief administration agencies.
The International Fund for Agriculture Development has supported the Self Employed Women's Association and government of Gujarat initiative in community-based livelihood security for earthquake and drought victims. This project has the potential to shape future disaster response and development projects in Gujarat as well as in other drought-prone states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
The Gujarat Women's Economic Development Corporation initiative in reviving women's businesses after the calamity provides many practical lessons in regenerating local economies and artisan markets. This project supported by the Asian Development Bank, puts premium on investments in income generation and asset building after a natural disaster. The farming kits provided to affected farmers by Gujarat's agriculture ministry is showing promising results after two seasons.
Mihir R Bhatt is with the Disaster Mitigation Institute, Ahmedabad
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