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18 April, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 17 April, 2019 09:27:31 PM
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Coping strategies before, during and after the flood

The choice of skills and resources to be applied vary according to the nature of the hazard threat, the capacities available to deal with it, and to a variety of community and individual priorities
Sultan Mohammed Giasuddin
Coping strategies before, during and after the flood

Flood is the most prevalent natural disaster here in South Asia followed by wild storm, disease epidemic and extreme temperature. Among the south Asian countries Bangladesh is affected much by flood. She ranked first in terms of number and percent of people killed and third in case of total people affected. All most one third of the farmers have low contact with information media. People get aware about flood from mass media and excess rainfall mainly. The farmers practiced coping strategies against crop production satisfactorily during flood period and post flood period but it was not up to the mark at pre-flood period. All the coping strategies practiced against livestock and poultry at pre-flood, during flood period and post flood period are found satisfactory. Use of the coping strategies against fisheries was found satisfactory at the pre-flood period but in case of during flood and post flood period all the strategies are not useful in practice. In the pre-flood period coping strategies mainly practiced against fisheries (34%) followed by crop production (30%) and livestock and fisheries (30%). Coping strategies against livestock and poultry (40%) are mainly practiced during the flood period by crop production (35%) and fisheries (35%). Farmers’ practice of coping strategies is higher against crop production (35%) followed by fisheries (31%) and livestock and poultry (30%) in the post flood period. The practices of coping strategies were comparatively higher during flood period followed by post flood period and pre-flood period.

Traditional indigenous coping strategies: The coping strategies are diverse and dynamic in nature depending upon contextual factors like region, community, social class, ethnic identity, household composition, gender, age and season as well as the livelihoods severity and duration of the potential hazard. The application of indigenous knowledge in the face of hazards and other threats is referred to as a ‘coping strategy’ (also sometimes known as an ‘adjustment’ mechanism or strategy, and in some circumstances as a ‘survival’ strategy). The choice of skills and resources to be applied varies according to the nature of the hazard threat, the capacities available to deal with it, and to a variety of community and individual priorities that can change during the course of a disaster.

Indigenous knowledge is wide-ranging. It includes technical expertise in seed selection and house-building, knowing where to find certain wild foods, economic knowledge of where to buy or sell essential items or find paid work, and knowledge of whom to call upon for assistance.

People’s resources also include labour, land, tools, fishing gears, seeds, food stocks, animals, cash, jewellery and other items of value. These can be used, bought, sold, or requested by calling upon obligations from family, kin, friends or neighbors, according to circumstances.

Government and institutional coping strategies: Governmental and institutional arrangements for the recovery should be focused in terms of functioning, recasting and reorganization of disaster management committees, Government and NGOs collaboration, participation of the defense forces, early recovery coordination and monitoring mechanisms, rapid emergency and need assessment procedures, loss and damage assessment procedures and information management. On the lessons based on Bangladesh’s experiences of floods in 2007, these strategic aspects can be highlighted: Risk reduction needs to be an integral part of recovery; Integration of poverty alleviation and disaster risk reduction (DRR); GO-NGOs Collaboration; Need for improved early warning.

On the key influences on resilient recovery and sustainable rehabilitation, the issues can be highlighted: Information management and media campaign on flood management, emergency response coordination and monitoring mechanism, rapid emergency and needs assessment procedure, loss and damage assessment procedure, partnership building and mainstreaming DRR in development planning, Priority reconstruction to be focused on addressing the direct affected areas such as embankments, roads and culverts, and essentially the work to be undertaken before the monsoon to reduce subsequent vulnerability. Work-based safety-net programmes need to be used to establish/construct the embankment and also linked with employment opportunities of the flood affected families and communities. Risk analysis and risk mitigation should be a mandatory element of any new construction or replacement program design involving both single sector and cross-sector risk analysis to ensure that reconstruction work would be survived the next wave of flooding.

Community-based coping strategies:

1. Before a flood: Be alert: monitor the surroundings, monitor weather radio, local television and radio stations. If a flash flood warning is issued for the particular area: Climb to safety immediately. Flash floods develop quickly. Do not wait until you see rising water. Get out of low areas subject to flooding. Assemble disaster supplies: Drinking water – Fill clean containers. Foods that require no refrigeration or cooking, cash money, medications and first aid supplies, clothing, toiletries, battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries and important household documents. Be prepared to evacuate: Identify places to go. Identify alternative travel routes that are not prone to flooding. Plan what to do with the livestock. If told to leave, do so quickly.

Review family disaster plan: Discuss flood plans with family members. Decide where you will meet if family members are separated. Designate a contact person who can be reached if family members get separated. Make sure every family member has the contact information. Protect the household properties: Move food stocks and assets to higher levels. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch them if you are wet or standing in water. Bring outside possessions indoors or tie them down securely. This includes lawn furniture, garbage cans, and other movable objects. Seal outlet to basements to prevent flooding.

2. During a flood: Avoid disaster areas. Watch for washed out roads, earth slides, and downed trees or power lines. Be especially cautious at night, when it is harder to recognize flood dangers. If water rises around, climb to higher ground as quickly as possible. Get out of low areas that may be subject to flooding. Avoid already-flooded areas and do not attempt to cross flowing water. Stay away from power lines and electrical wires.

3. After a flood: Wait until it is safe to return: Do not return to flooded areas until authorities indicate it is safe to do so. Follow recommended routes. DO NOT sightsee. Watch for washed out roads, earth slides, and downed trees or power lines. Stay away from downed power lines. If a building was flooded, check for safety before entering: Do not enter a building if it is still flooded or surrounded by floodwater. Check for structural damage. Inspect foundations for cracks or other damage.

Turn off any outside gas lines at the meter tank. Do not enter a building that has flooded until local building officials have inspected it for safety. Use extreme caution when entering buildings. Wear sturdy shoes. The most common injury following a disaster is cut feet. Use only battery-powered lighting. Flammable material may be present. Look for fire hazards (such as damaged gas lines, flooded electrical circuits, or submerged furnaces). Check for gas leaks. If smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building.

If possible turn off the gas at the outside main valve. Call the gas authority. Reporting about broken utility lines to the appropriate authorities. Check for electrical system damage (sparks, broken or frayed wires, or the smell of burning insulation).

Turn off the electricity at the main circuit breaker if you can reach it without stepping in water. Examine walls, floors, doors, windows, and ceilings for risk of collapsing. Watch out for animals that might have entered with the floodwaters. Let the building air out to remove foul odors or escaping gas.

The writer is Director, New Strategies, Community Development Centre (CODEC), Chattogram, Bangladesh

 

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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