India has witnessed more than 75,000 deaths and suffered economic losses worth INR 4 lakh crore, since 2000. In 2018, India was ranked as the 4th most badly affected nation in the UN report on economies worst affected by climate disasters, incurring a loss of nearly USD 80 billion over the last 20 years. Experts predict that the intensity of climate-related disasters like floods, droughts and cyclones is set to increase in the future due to global warming. The cumulative impact of surviving a disaster and fighting poverty is a reality for many Indians.
Preparedness, adaptation and economic stability. Adaptation and economic stability are processes that will impact the everyday lives of India’s millions of poor and marginalised people, helping them strengthen their ability to cope with disasters. Preparedness is a process that will equip vulnerable populations to survive disasters with dignity.
Theme: Reduce the number of disaster-affected persons by equipping them with precautionary and survival skills.
CARE India launched the fourth edition of #IndiaPrepares, a campaign emphasising the need to increase India’s preparedness for natural and man-made disasters. This campaign is an opportunity for the entire nation to equip themselves for various emergencies, in an all-inclusive manner. Using social media and news media, the campaign has been increasing audience’s awareness on impact of climate change on disasters; simple precautions one can take before, during and after a disaster strikes; and disaster-ready infrastructure and dwellings.
Recommendations of CARE India’s Disaster Management Team
The issue of gender disparity in India is interconnected with issues of social exclusion and caste-based oppression, religion, culture and geography. The interplay of these complex social issues during disasters worsen the ability of certain vulnerable groups, especially women and girls from marginalised communities to lead dignified lives and engage in income generating activities. The deeprooted norms of sexual division of labour create conditions that result in women lacking certain skills. In addition, due to the internalisation of caring and self-sacrificing roles, the women of a family end up ensuring the safety of children and elderly in emergency situations with limited concern about their own safety and well-being.
There is a pressing need to relook at the design, approach and framework of disaster preparedness and response. The need is to empower women and girls by ensuring their equal participation in the civil, political, economic and social spheres. They should also be equally involved in decision making. Social accountability processes should be used to bring women’s voices into the design, monitoring and accountability of resilience and preparedness efforts, in dialogue between government authorities and local communities.
In addition, access to livelihood opportunities must be scaled up and expanded. Priority must be given to providing women and adolescent girls with comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare services without discrimination.