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Community initiative for risk reduction
Submitted by Kuldeep Sagar on October 9, 2008 - 12:45pm.
A fisherman saved lives of people trapped in flood.
The Little Rann of Kutch extends northeast from the Gulf of Kutch over 5,100 sq km. Once an extension of the Arabian Sea, the Rann ("salt marsh") has been closed off by centuries of silting. During Alexander's time it was a navigable lake, but is now an extensive mudflat, inundated during the monsoons, salty and cracked otherwise.
Heavy rain in last month flooded the vast, flat area to a depth of about 1.7 m. Several rivers-the Bhambhan, Kankavati, Godhra, and Umai from the south, the Rupen and Saraswati from the east, and Banas from the northeast are drained into the Little Rann.
Around 40,000 salt pan workers, harnessing salt in the Little Rann of Kutch and live in small huts. It becomes difficult for the people when the area gets flooded as neither any structure nor tree in the entire Rann where people can climb on. The flood in area surrounding to Kharaghodha remained almost unnoticed as main focus was on Lakhtar, another flood affected area in the Rann.
Rahimbhai, a fisherman lives in Kharaghodha village that is on edge of the Rann. He had two manual boats but both of them damaged fully in the recent flood. He and his nephew repaired an old boat to evacuate people trapped in the flood. They went up to 25 km inside the flooding area for consecutive two days and saved 37 persons including children, older person and a disable.
The initiative taken by Rahimbhai and a few youth needs reorganisation to reinforce community initiatives of disaster risk reduction and mainstream them in govt’s disaster mitigation process.
Except one casualty, all salt pan workers safely evacuated in the entire flood affected area but the salt pan workers lost food items, household items and equipments in the flood. Govt has declared cash grant of Rs 1500 but its not enough. The lost could have been prevented by using early warning. The initiative taken on disaster preparedness and mitigation is beginning but not enough as disaster has become common phenomenon.