Synthesis of monitoring studies: Findings and Recommendations

Synthesis of monitoring studies: Findings and Recommendations

National Dalit Watch – NCDHR

Studies undertaken after the Tsunami in 2004, Bihar floods in 2007, Kosi floods in 2008, floods in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Assam in 2009, 2010-2014 Assam Floods , Phailin 2013,Uttrakhand 2013 , Hudhud Cyclone 2014 and Jammu and Kashmir Floods 2014. Gujarat Floods 2015 , Tamil Nadu Floods 2015  and AP floods 2015

Here are some general findings that were uniformly present at all the survey locations; and recommendations of the monitoring studies undertaken by NCDHR-National Dalit Watch in the states of Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir , Uttarakhand , Assam and  Pondicherry  to assess Disaster Response & Preparedness for Inclusion and Equity, from the year 2004 to 2015 December

I. Findings

1. The temporary shelters constructed both by the Government and NGO’s had segregated the dalits and other castes;

2. The government officials did not visit the Dalit tolas even after days of the devastating floods to enumerate the no. of deaths, losses and damage;

3. In the absence of the officials’ visit to the Dalit habitations; data was most often collated from the Panchayat leaders or other influential people that have no special interest to see that relief materials reach the most needy and vulnerable;

4. It was shocking that neither the community nor the government is aware about the CRF provisions specifically in Assam, while many of the affected dalits were unaware of the ‘food
For All’ programme, and scores of people lack of awareness about the entitlements;

5. The deposition of the victim indicated that in many places, the relief materials distributed to the dalits were plundered by the fishermen. The district administration appointed for monitoring the distribution was inactive and silent in curbing these atrocities;

6. The Dalits expressed their fear and anxiety of the possible conflict that could erupt on caste and gender issues, especially in the times of grief and relief operation during , and this made them huddle in the open and under polythene sheets;

7. Continued entrapment of a large number of villagers in Dalit populous locations submerged under flood waters mainly due to shortage of rescue services and absolute lack of suitable mechanisms to address the special needs of women, children or people with disability;

8. Despite several complaints given by the Dalits to the concerned police officials, regarding the ill-treatment and discriminatory distribution of relief, none of the complaints were registered.
9. There was delay in delivering relief to floodaffected communities and many across the states could not access relief package;

10. The relief distribution team and rehabilitation service committee constituted for assisting the government in giving the beneficiaries list and distributing relief did not contain any woman and dalit member. It is one of the major reasons for the neglect of the vulnerable community in tsunami relief;

11. The proportion of fully damaged houses is higher among SCs followed by STs and Muslims.

12. A large proportion of Dalit households reported loss of ration cards, land documents, Certificates and animals;

13. Compensations for house damage, death, loss of livestock, grievously injured etc are yet to be disbursed to many of the flood victims in AP, Karnataka and Assam for the flood. Barring a few, most have received a paltry compensation ranging from Rs. 500-1500 for completely crumpled houses;

14. A Dalit Gram Pancahayat president at these places has not been able to respond to his people needs owing to pressure/fear from others.

II. Recommendations

a. Adhering to the Constitutional provisions & International treaties to which India is a signatory

1. Caste discrimination can be considered equivalent to racial discrimination. The Government should strictly implement the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) to which India is a signatory and also Art. 17 of the Constitution and register cases against the erred officials.

2. Though India is a signatory to the Universal declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the concept of right to equality has been violated in ensuring proper and dignified rehabilitation of the flood victims. The same has been enshrined in Art.14 of our Constitution. Both the Union and the State Governments should strictly implement the same and disburse the relief and rehabilitation to the Dalits without discrimination.

b. Recovery and Rehabilitation

3. Provision of adequate amount of relief aid favouring the floodaffected communities living in relief camps, including provision of adequate food; shelter resources; medical, referral and maternal facilities; sanitation facilities, female Doctors and attendants; facilities for security, conveyance and communication; in keeping with internationally recognized norms, such as Sphere Standards for humanitarian responses.

4. The shelter reconstruction should be owner driven policy where the victim should become part and parcel of the planning and implementing process. The affected family can be assisted in terms of access to material support, grants and technology which is ensuring seismic safety, cyclone safety, wind proofing etc. in the backup of local geological conditions and traditional wisdom.

5. Ensure that employment schemes as under NREGA is available for wage workers so that they do not migrate, but can stay and build their livelihood back.

6. The traumatic impact of the disaster on reproductive health must be assessed and special medical care, including necessary scan and psychological counseling must be offered to them at free of cost.

7. The government should strengthen governance systems ensuring transparency and accountability at every level starting with the village councils.

8. Proper registration of death and loss should be done in all Dalit habitations by the responsible authorities so that need based rehabilitation or human rights principles that could help the process of building better can be ensured.

9. Setting up an efficient timebound procedure, not extending three months, for delivery of compensation as per CRF and NCCF guidelines to all the people suffering losses due to floods, and for the rehabilitation of people who have lost all their resources and belongings.

10. The state authorities should take note of such affected people who do not possess any documentary proof or have lost such proofs in flood for proving their land holdings and find out appropriate methods for compensating them.

11. The land of the affected SC/ST families, apart from the CRF compensation, should be brought under CLDP as mandatory programme for further development.

12. The Department of Women and Child Development should immediately supply the anganwadi centres with the material required and oversee the proper functioning of the centres (Immediate measures).

c. Mechanisms during disaster

13. The state should reconstruct toilets on a war footing to ensure the dignity of women and also for the sanitation of the area. These must be provided even in temporary shelters. The state must provide drinking water and domestic water needs to the affected communities.

14. Access to food security has to be ensured as the stock in their homes is low and most often adequate relief does not reach them for days after disasters.

15. Deploy sufficient number of vehicles for evacuation at the Dalit habitations, as they are often not allowed to enter into the vehicle or wait till the other are evacuated, by which time it gets too late.

16. There needs to be concurrent monitoring of the relief and redressal with grievance mechanisms set in place to address the complaints and grievances of Dalits during disasters.

17. Tasks of cleaning and clearing operations including dead bodies during the disaster need to be converted to community activities, with the support of specialized teams of military and paramilitary from the state and not be made the task of Dalit communities only.

18. Fixing up accountabilities for any lapses in delivery of critical relief aid and initiating penal action against errant authorities.

19. Immediate registration of cases of willful discrimination, exclusion and atrocities against members of dalit communities under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocites Act of 1989, initiating necessary legal and administrative action against the culprits, and preventive mechanisms to stop occurrence of such instances.

20. Arrange free education to the children of the deceased.

21. Ensure that Dalit children and Dalit women are not left out as these happen at the intra-community levels too.

d. Putting in place pre-disaster mechanisms

22. Include the mapping of Dalits and other socially vulnerable communities even when they live in the proximity of services and powerful communities.

23. Infrastructure and Resource mapping in the Dalit habitations need to be done separately.

24. Information has to be specifically disseminated in the dalit habitation as they may not access information in the dominant areas; people mandated to share the information to them may not do so, being engaged in wage labour through the day they may not come to know about information on the disaster, critical information on where to go in times of disaster, what precautions, where to access, whom to contact etc. These then need to be given in their location in the present situation.

25. Inclusive programmes, wherever possible with children, women and other sections can be initiated in a sensitive and equitable manner.

26. Budget allocation and utilisation is a measure of the commitment of the agency and helps us to measure the benefit of the interventions to the vulnerable groups.

27. Provide community infrastructure at the habitation level to improve community life like all weather roads, community halls, community radio programmes, electricity, water and sanitation, school building, ICDS centres, health centres etc. would go a long way in changing the environment of the marginalised habitations.

28. Ensure proportionate representation from the marginalised sections in all committees and task forces from the village and Panchayat to the district and state levels, NGOs, CBOs and other stakeholders engaged in the process of relief and rehabilitation, to help bring their concerns and resources into the planning and decision making process.

29. Enable elected representatives of local government bodies to respond promptly to local instances of losses and sufferings, through devolution of adequate funds.

30. Organize regular social audits at the relief camps, and setting up effective, proactive mechanisms for registration of grievances, particularly those of socially marginalized communities.

31. Early warning and forewarning mechanism to be established in all the affected and disaster prone villages.

32. Educate and equip the village leadership, like the Mahila mandals, youth associations, SHGs etc, on building their resilience to respond to the community during the relief and rehabilitation phase.

Although the loss and damage among Dalits may not be quantifiable in terms of assets and productivity, the survey revealed that the floods have almost devastated their assets completely, removing all support mechanisms. This places infants, children, elderly, pregnant women and others in vulnerable situations without access to minimum facilities and services. The incidence of loss ranging from loss of certificates, documents, food grains and animals is high among Dalit households. Each of these losses in themselves is highly debilitating for the community, the efforts at recovery is herculean and the chances of replacement negligible. Recovery back in the face of such absolute loss and damage is daunting and when these are not recognised and compensated by the state and other agencies it is almost impossible. This demands new norms for assessment and compensation, relief distribution and rehabilitation in disaster management.