Disaster Risk Reduction, Accountability and Social Justice
Disaster is quite frequent in Nepal, The earthquakes in 2015, the floods of the Koshi, Seti, Bhote Koshi, Tamor. etc; fires in the forests, landslides, food shortages, health hazards, and so on. Responses to these seem to be different; for some it is time to show charity, for some it is time to involve their own people and organizations, for government it is time to collect donations and sit on them, etc. But people affected are suffering and being suffered. Even though charity pours in for the affected people but they are treated as beggars. Government machineries rather than helping them alleviate from the miseries start delaying in the name of policies and procedures. I/NGOs spend much on mobilization and administration and spend time and energy to fulfill government procedures which are quite cumbersome and time consuming. The main issues here are no one wants to be accountable and become transparent. Nobody treats the victim respectfully, with love and empathy and as human beings. The victims are also not organized. They like to have relief and services for themselves only. Because of which there is chaos in distribution. There is also a mentality if I do not get it others also should not get it even if they are in dire situation. The hazards and disasters are the main test of organizations’ and government’s motives which have been exemplified after the earthquake 2015. Neither government nor people or organizations were ready.
Infrastructure development has progressed in Nepal without systematic planning to have access to roads and to initiate other kind of development, but not without environmental costs. These environmental costs have limited the ecosystem services on which people depend, including agricultural production as well as access to clean water, protection from natural disasters and fertile soils. An ecosystem management approach reconsiders these decisions and aims to move beyond development that ‘does no harm’, to an integrated approach that boosts holistic development including family level development, agricultural production concurrently with other benefits such as soil and water quality, biological conservation, and increased resilience of rural communities.
Natural disasters are becoming a day-to-day events because of unplanned and unregulated growth of urban areas, road constructions without considering geological condition, stone and sand collections from streams and forests, use of mechanical instruments to make earth vulnerable, extreme climatic conditions, and so on. Unless people understand all these factors and do something to prevent and adapt Nepalese people will go through the calamities very frequently. Just this year after January diseases spread in Jajarkot and Kathmandu, then earthquake which dominated everything, then landslides in Taplejung, Tatopani, etc. All these destroying human and natural resources. The relief system used is making people dependent and beggars. It may be quite difficult to overcome this mentality and make people responsible and accountable to their own work, livelihood and safety. The main victims. However, are poor, dalits, women and children.
Principles of the Ecosystem Management and DRR Framework
Harnessing ecosystems management for social justice, poverty reduction and holistic development requires a significant shift in perspective from more traditional ecosystem service-based approaches that focus primarily on services provided by protected areas. Ecosystem Management will be based on the following principles that highlight this perspective:
- People and community are fundamental – understanding how people and communities benefit from ecosystem management is the central objective the work. They are the decision makers and the actors.
- Human and natural ecosystems are tightly coupled – EM is a systems-based approach to highlight the interactions and interlink between human and natural systems.
- Governance structures and institutions: Ecosystem services can be classified as common pool resources whereas ecosystem management encompasses management of both family level and common pool resources to benefit the actors, thus transparent, accountable and participatory governance structures and institutions are central to their management.
- Ecosystem management needs to be part of the global development discussion – Amongst the many approaches to development, ecosystem management-based approaches that restore, harness and conserve natural as well as other resources must be included.
- Multi-functionality – Agriculture being the main sources of livelihood agricultural landscapes are important for multiple functions, crop productivity cannot be managed solely for its agricultural production at the expense of all other services and resources.
- Design a resilient system –Agricultural landscapes, natural resources and communities are constantly exposed to stress and shocks: anticipate and plan for change and management.
- Modify socio-ecological systems –Ecosystem service-based approaches to poverty alleviation and social justice may need to modify the composition and configuration of agricultural landscapes, resource management and family resource management to ensure ecosystem service conservation and restoration. Likewise changes in governance structures and institutions may be needed to (re-) direct the benefit flows.
- Large Scales – ecosystem management are nested within multiple scales in agricultural and developmental landscapes. WATCH embraces a basin-scale or watershed level focus to define the context of resource management systems, but identifies the finer scales at which ecological processes and institutions often operate.
The principles of the framework act as a guide for ecosystem management-based approaches to development interventions.
Based on the above principles WATCH plans two pronged strategies: Family level and community level initiatives for disaster risk reductions and resiliency.
- Family Level:
Poverty and lack of food securities invite disasters both at the family level and natural resources. Poverty is not only the lack of economic resources. It is also effects of mentality (I can not, I do not have) mentality inculcated by society; social and gender discriminations, exploitations, lack of equitable distribution of resources, control of government and other resources by already “haves” and elites; lack of knowledge and information about the fit technologies and other alternatives, etc. WATCH is piloting “Poverty to Prosperity” Exercises in a pilot scale where family try to identify their own resources, decide on whether those resources are efficiently managed to their satisfaction, if not how they can improve to their satisfactions, what possibilities are there and how those can be utilized, what barriers are there and how they can be overcome or managed. Based on these discussions by using resource mapping and transect walks, a detailed plan of action: immediate and long-term is developed and implemented.
- Community Level
At the community level. Women’s groups of 25-40 women are formed or collaborated with already existing groups. Other possible youth groups, farmers’ groups. Forestry groups, irrigation groups, drinking water groups, etc. will also be the collaborators or actors. At the community level, two plans; watershed level and basin level, are developed with the support from these groups. PRA tools like sketch mapping, resource mapping, possible hazard mapping, transect walk, time-line, seasonal calendars, etc. will be used for developing plans through dialogue and discussions.
Goal and Objectives:
The goal of the project is to prepare people to cope with frequent disasters through ecosystem management and disaster mitigation and preparedness.
- To raise awareness of rural people especially women about possible disasters and prepare them to cope and adapt though ecosystem management
- To develop women’s leadership for management of local human, economic and natural resources.
- To develop family level “Poverty to Prosperity” exercises to manage family level resources.
- To develop ecosystem management plans of the area to cope with possible disasters and coordinate with government, donors, and local organizations
- Capacity building of WATCH/staff, women’s groups and partner women’s organizations:
- Conceptual reorientation: move away from dependency and move ahead with own efforts
- Poverty to Prosperity Exercise training
- Ecosystem Management Plan preparation training
- Women’s leadership training on management
- Development and implementation of plans
- Develop 50 household level Poverty to Prosperity plans and implement them
- Develop 10 watershed and basin level Ecosystem Management plans and implement them
- Develop visioning and planning of women’s groups and organizations and implement them.
- Orientation on possible disasters and open dialogue
- Awareness raising about probable disasters
- Public hearing and street drama for awareness
- One day orientation; Transect walk-discussions on possible disasters/risks and probable mitigation and prevention measures.
- Orientation of district and local level activists
- Lesson Learning and wider experience sharing and coordination
- Lesson learning workshop with staff and partners
- Dissemination of project and lesson learning at the district level.
One area is selected from Rupandehi or Kapilvastu or Tamang area of Lalitpur, or Okhaldhunga where WATCH is already working and women’s groups or mothers’ groups are present, and it is a disaster prone area. A preliminary reconnaissance visit will be made by WATCH management to select the area.
One Program Manager cum Capacity Building Facilitator, One Finance cum Account/Logostics Manager at the Center; Forestry, Agriculture, and Social Mobilizers (2) in Each site
WATCH will conduct activities with local groups and federations. Women’s groups and mothers’ groups will also be critical because they are the ones who will participate in training, planning and implementation. Besides local level government agencies and district level agencies also need to cooperate specially in planning and implementation.
Monitoring and Evaluation:
A family level database regarding their present situation and mind set will be collected and folder for each family selected for Poverty to Prosperity Exercise is developed. At the year end the same database will be updated to see what changes and actions have been taken place. Each family also prepares the “Poverty to Prosperity” action plan and every three months the action plan is followed up and updated. At the community level and area level action plans are prepared and every three months they are followed up and updated. Capacity building efforts are monitored through session plans, attendance and training evaluations. In the quarterly and annual meetings process, products, and impacts are discussed and assessed. Based on that future course is decided. The project will follow the learning process approach rather than a blueprint. It will focus more on process-change-process approach. At the end of the project a lesson learning workshop is conducted with staff, partners, and selected women’s representatives and disseminated to the local level and district level. All these are properly documented. Every six months financial and progress reports are submitted to the donors, local and district government, and partner agencies.