BOUNCING BACK TOGETHER
Bhagiram Chaudhari remembers the devastating flood from 14 years ago as one of the most dreadful events in his life. The water level increased drastically and took no time to enter the houses. Scared and uninformed about what to do, he shares, “No one looked after us then”. The flooding was an annual event in the village, the lands would be cut and with no formation of any committee, things were left as it is. In 2015, finally, a community disaster management committee was formed through the introduction of the MRED project. The initial impression towards MRED was not very positive amongst the community members. Bhagiram shares “It felt like a candle in the wind when MRED started teaching us about Bioengineering methods”. The villagers showed reluctance when they were informed about bamboo embankment, tree plantation as a way to mitigate the damage of floods.
However, the community was happy when the rescue committee, CDMC, were formed and trained. A part of them was happy that whenever a disaster strikes, they now will have an organized group for rescue and recovery. And yet the main problem, the mitigation of flood was still seen to be unsolved. Slowly the community started following the instructions from MRED. They started making embankments from bamboo, planting crops like sugarcane and grass near the bank and also were able to see the difference it made. Plants like sugarcane not only helped to minimize the land cutting from the flood but also helped the farmers earn economic benefits. The women also benefited from the project as the women’s group together started banana farming which has now expanded.
Chaudhari shares that the CDMC now has emergency funds and links with other networks that provide early warnings about flooding. MRED has also supported the community by building a safe house where they can all reside during flooding. Chaudhari proudly shares that other communities around them have also started replicating their learnings as well.