Flood Response 2008

Between July and September 2007 people of North Orissa met with 4 consecutive floods with high intensity and devastation. Unnayan, in collaboration with Oxfam took up humanitarian response programmes in the worst affected villages of Basta, Jaleswar and Sadar blocks of Balasore district and Rasgobindpur block of Mayurbhanj district. The flood washed away the standing kharif crop in many areas thus adding woes to the wound and disparaging the livelihood support system as agriculture and agricultural labour is the main stay of living of the people in this area.

Thus there was an obvious situation of food insecurity and lack of income avenues particularly for the landless, wage labourers and marginal farmers. Unnayan also conducted a food security assessment during the response programme with the following objectives:

• To understand the food availability among the flood affected communities, their access and affordability to food and nutritional requirements in flood period

• To understand the different coping strategies and mechanisms adopted by the community to meet their basic food requirements

• To explore opportunities to enable the flood affected communities to meet the food requirement without any increase in harmful coping strategies that would affect dignity of people

It was observed through this assessment that the tribal families, the landless and waged labourers were the worst affected in this flood. The general consumption of food, which is also nutritionally deficient under normal circumstances, had been reduced by almost half due to the effect of flood.  Women were also most affected as availability of less food had substantially reduced their consumption as it is the general practice that women eat in the last after feeding the male members and children in the families. There was no special provision of food for pregnant women, lactating mother and small children for marginalized people even under normal conditions except few exceptional cases of  well off families under general caste (other than ST and SC). It was observed that above 50% of deserving families had not been issued the BPL (Below Poverty Line) card. The BPL rectification and fresh issue of card to deserving candidates has not been done since last 7 years. Supply of rice through BPL has not been implemented yet in Balasore district. Only 10 kg of rice was being provided to the poor above 65 years of age under Annapurna Yojana. Very less households have been covered under Antadoya Yojana who get 35 kg of rice per month with a price of Rs. 3 per kg. Midday meal programme had been stopped in many schools. Facilities through Anganwadi Centres are not being provided properly. Balasore district was included under NREGA (National rural Employment Guarantee Act) only few months back. But no work had yet been done under this scheme. Thus in reality, though some schemes were there, many of them had not being implemented.    

Rice and other grocery items were available in the market. The price of rice had been increased by 25%. Price of other grocery items has remained the same or marginally increased in comparison to prior to flood situation. The flood adversely affected the livelihoods in another way, i.e. the food grains (particularly rice) that the marginal farmers, waged labourers and other marginalized people used to get on loan from the medium and large farmers and well off families was not available. The landless and waged labourers who used to do share cropping had been badly affected by this situation.

Mid-August to Mid-November was the most food scarce period during this year. Usually this is the food scarcity period every year. But people used to manage this as under normal circumstances they get wage labour in agricultural fields (Kharif crop) during this period. They also keep some stock of food grains (by saving from earlier period) for use in this lean period. But these food grains (mainly paddy/rice) was either washed away or totally damaged for most of the families. Hardly there was any family under our study who was able to shift his/her stock of food grains to safe places. Since agriculture had been damaged, availability of wage in the locality was substantially reduced. In normal period people used to get 20 days of work per month, but in the post flood period, it was reduced to about 8 days a month on an average.

Priority wise the following population groups required support for food and income:

• Tribals
• Landless
• Waged labourers
• Marginal farmers

Evidence Of Food & Income Scarcity:

We got practical evidence of food scarcity by visiting many households in the villages. We also studied the case of 20 households very minutely by taking note of the food items available in the respective families, members in the families, looking in to the food containers and also observing the quantum of food intakes while eating. We made case studies of these people. We selectively made these case studies of the most vulnerable families. We also informally cross checked between the facts given by the people during FGD and practical observation at their home. Almost all the members of the families in the village were available. This indicated non availability of wage. Almost all people were looking sick. Malnutrition was quite evident among the children (pot bellied). In none of the houses could we see food stock.

Recovery Programme
In the above context, it was planned to conduct recovery programmes in terms of agriculture support and cash for work for most vulnerable families which were implemented subsequently with the support of ECHO & OXFAM. It is proposed to provide agricultural support to 1350 beneficiaries and CfW programme for 2000 beneficiaries as per the details mentioned below. Apart from these livelihood recovery programmes it was also planned to conduct the Public Health Promotion activities and Capacity building of the village communities and implementing staff as well with the aim of linking the programmes with Disaster Risk reduction thus leading to long-term impact of the programme.

In this year (2007) heavy rain on 4th, 5th, and 6th July 2007 in the upper catchments and also in the down stream region caused severe floods and the water level of the Subarnarekha went up beyond its danger level. As a result the area in the river basin was vastly flooded, unprecedented of its kind in the area. The flood took 21 lives, destroyed thousands of homes, washed away kharif crop in thousands of hectares and caused devastation to lives of lakhs of people in the area.

Project Completion Report
North Orissa Flood Response Programme-2008
Disaster Risk Reduction in Subarnarekha River Basin of Balasore & Mayurbhanj Districts in Orissa.





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