I’m drafting the last sections of my odisha case study for my thesis, when I decided to present my research findings in a seminar organized by UCL – USAR yesterday. Nevermind the long commute up and down from Blackburn to London for an hour-long seminar, it was worth it, because it pushed me to see the bigger picture, of where I am going towards with all my data? The comparisons, similarities between Assam floods and Odisha cyclone are many, but yet seem superficial and surface-level. The meat, a lot of subtext and chewing remains to be done, or am I missing a crucial link here?
I will be posting some of the key points I wanted to drill down yesterdays while talking on “Community Resilience and Post disaster recovery: case studies from India” The most primary finding is: The nature of hazards are changing: these are recurring and cyclical, some are defined as small-scale or chronic, while even the mega-disasters are recurring at alarming frequency, even if the same communities, may or may not be affected, the state has to deal with multi-hazards, cascading and subsequent disasters at any given point of time.
Case in point in Assam in 2012, there were multiple flood waves within that monsoon period, the state was also dealing with violent ethnic clashes in Bodoland areas. In the following year, some areas were further impoverished due to floods and erosion in 2013, resulting in displacement. Similarly, in 2013, Odisha prepared itself to face the cyclone Phailin, but was unprepared to tackle the subsequent floods in other districts. The following year in 2014, again the state prepared to respond to floods as well as a cyclone HudHud. Clearly the scientific developments and technological advances are not keeping up with the changing nature of hazards in the region.
The state is out of its wit, or dangerously enough chooses to ignore the impacts of recurring disasters to its economy and development. The policies lack clarity, and inter-linkages. The sanitation, or water policy, housing or even rural employment schemes do not echo in value or implementation the impacts of recurring disasters, recovery seems to be a distant ideal to achieve.
More to follow…