This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Here’s Why We Need To Involve Local Government’s More In Times Of Disasters

More from IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

The occurrence of natural disasters has increased significantly in the recent past and this has resulted in a high number of mortalities and economic and social losses worldwide. This necessitates the implementation of disaster risk reduction measures in order to achieve a disaster resilient environment.

The risk reduction through improved resilience requires a multi-sectoral approach with the participation of various stakeholders. As such, the local governments being the first responder and the one responsible for community development has a key role in achieving society’s resilience to disasters.

The talk titled Role of Local Governments in Disasters was organised by the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, as a part of the series #LocalGovernance on 29 June, 2021.

Starting with the discussion, the moderator of the session Mr Tikender Singh Panwar, Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla; Senior Visiting Fellow, IMPRI, highlighted the importance of understanding the role of local bodies in disaster mitigation and adaptation strategies.

He underlined that despite the fact of having reports from the United Nations that the first response to mitigation disasters come from cities, they had been completely kept apart.

The city disaster Management Plans require time to time updation.

The speaker of the session Dr Joy Elamon, Director General at Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA), made use of his presentation to shed light on the necessary steps to be taken in case of disasters.

He placed emphasis on the need to strengthen the role of local government, i.e. the municipalities, the panchayats, etc., in Disaster Management instead of relying on local authorities such as district collectors because it is the residents who know about the local community and the community knows them.

In Times Of Disasters

chennai flood
Representative Image.

Dr Joy said that in the time of disasters, it was an emergency and there needed to be coordinated efforts where uniformed and non-uniformed forces came together.

He stated the Indian national system, which is based on a command-and-control system where there is a National Disaster Management Act and Prime Minister and Chief Ministers, being the chairpersons of National and State Disaster Management Authority, are responsible for the efficient coordination of disaster response.

But at the same time, it is the local government that understands the community and the locality.

Disasters And Management

He talked about various systems of disaster management, i.e. National Disaster Management Authority, State Disaster Management Authority and District Disaster Management Authority.

He further elaborated on the Disaster Management Plan and how it places the thrust of the planning mechanism on the local authorities, ignoring the third tier of government, i.e. Local Government.

The issue lies in the fact that no local government knows that it is supposed to prepare this disaster management plan. The Jila Parishad or District Panchayat Presidents do not even know that they are the co-chairperson in District Disaster Management Authority.

It is only at the level of local government that the first two steps of disaster management, i.e. Prevention and Mitigation or Risk Reduction are possible efficiently.

We tend to forget the third tier of government and still continue to have local authorities rather than local government.

Dr Joy threw light on various aspects of the District Disaster Management Plan consisting of measures to be taken for prevention and mitigation of disaster by the government departments at the district level and local authorities in the district.

He stated that local authorities should ensure that their officers and employees are trained in Disaster Management and resources related to disaster management should be maintained for being readily available.

Local Authorities should carry Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.

Local Government Disaster Management Plan: Kerala

Kerala floods 2018
Representaitve Image.

Through an example of Kerala Flash Floods in 2018, Dr Joy explained the transition to a local government disaster management plan in Kerala, where all Panchayats, Municipalities and Corporations prepared a Disaster Management Plan, the Department of Local Self Governments provided Framework, Templates and Guidelines, Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) provided technical support and KILA helped in capacity building and coordinating.

Dr Joy also elaborated on the entire Disaster Management Framework in Kerala and how they got local government plans into the District Disaster Management Plan, thereby including the suggestions and voices of the Local Government Steering Committee, Gram Sabha, volunteers, working groups and sectoral groups.

One of the most remarkable achievements that Dr Joy highlighted is the ability of the Kerala State District Management Authority to collect and collate data required for Disaster Management planning from various departments along with the help of local panchayats as well, including providing about 31 layers of maps (highlighting Flood Prone Areas, Communication points, Drought prone areas, earthquake-prone areas and so on).

Moreover, every local government formed four emergency response teams consisting of 10 members each for first aid, early warning, rescue and shelter management.

Pertinent Questions

The moderator Mr Tikendra Singh Panwar, then initiated a discussion on the role of local people in the master plans drawn by consultants and parasitical organisations and asked about the capacity-building process in preparing those 30–31 maps.

Dr Joy explained that it was the Kerala Institute of Local Administration that did the training programs but at the same time underlined the indigenous knowledge through which local panchayats were able to improvise it. He further highlighted the importance of having such data in a locally assimilable form.

Mr Tikendra also asked for ways to resolve the contradiction between the district magistrate and the co-chairperson, if any.

Dr Joy suggested that first, we need to make the co-chairperson realise the importance of their voice and make them aware of their command in the Disaster management process. But he also said that all of this depends on the stature of the local government system in every place, which is not uniform at present in our country.

It is important for the rest of the country to learn from the Kerala experiences. We really need to restructure the disaster management system where we must empower the local governments in fact in the structural discourse.

Further proceeding with the discussion, Dr Arjun Asked for Dr Joy’s point of view on the conundrum of local government from a disaster point of view since sometimes the local government falls in the ambit of several districts as well as practices on financial management part for project planning.

To this, Dr Joy argued for a multi-level planning system instead of a completely decentralised system. Using the example of Kerala, he further highlighted how the funds are transferred to the local governments to help them plan developmental activities and allocate resources locally.

Dr Arjun also asked for Dr Joy’s insights on Kerala’s liquid waste management problem as it is emerging as an important issue.

Dr Joy said that the local governments are trying to incorporate the spatial aspects of development in their planning mechanisms. An integrated waste management system is being placed focus on now.

Concluding Remarks

The talk concluded with Dr Joy’s important message in this emergency scenario for the rest of the country:

Local governments have a role to play and, in fact, it’s they who can implement policies at the ground level.

Acknowledgement: Chhavi Jain is a Research Intern at IMPRI

Tikender Singh Panwar, Simi Mehta, Ritika Gupta

You must be to comment.

More from IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

Similar Posts

By Ena Zafar

By Pavki Pahwa

By Kriti Atwal

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below