Thursday, 12 April 2018

Gender Issues in the Char Areas of Assam

Char areas are tracts of land surrounded by the waters of an ocean, sea, lake, or stream; they usually imply, any accretion in a river course or estuary. The Char area found in south- eastern Asian countries are characterised by where female and children experience inferior health and uncertain survival. The social structure is influenced by the patriarchal social order that strictly regulates gender roles in Char areas. The women performs a variety of roles and functions from processing of harvest, rearing livestock, homestead gardening, etc. and enjoy lesser rights as men; in matters of migration to cities like Guwahati, Dibrugarh for livelihood generation activities. The women stays at home in state of vulnerability i.e., flood, food insecurity, etc. in absence of male guardianship.

In India, these Char areas are mostly found in the states of West Bengal and Assam and experience similar gender outcomes where women are seen mostly in roles of primary food producers and providers. They are regulated by their male members, be it father, husband or their sons in sphere of generating or controlling income and women's involvement in wage labour, restricting responsibilities for managing the household. The set of norms is widely enforced and is a determinant of the spectrum of activities and behaviours within which women are expected to operate. The norms limits are at the basis of gender-specific vulnerabilities in rural society, regulating female social and economic mobility all the while positioning women as primary caregivers and caretakers of their households and kin.

The All India Disaster Mitigation Institute (AIDMI) conducted a Situation Analysis (SitAn) of Women and Children in three districts in the Char areas of Assam. The issue identified were the following:
  1. In accessing resources women had minimal access to income, credit, property control, knowledge and training. Their access to resources was inhibited by socio-cultural barriers. Their participation in the socio-economic actions i.e., labour in informal sector, income generating activities, as they bear the workload of managing household when men migrate for work which reduces women mobility , and is low as compared to men participation. They were bound to act upon the orders of their husband or another male head of family. However the trend of liberty tended to increase due to NGOs and Government interaction, intervention and information dissemination on themes of women empowerment. The women are subtly introduced with the notion of inferiority and obeying one's husband implicitly. In Dherir Char the women restricts themselves speaking in presence of elderly men which, and the empowerment activities enabled essential shift in perspectives in understanding their rights.
  2. In spheres of decision making power, women in the SiTAN study area had little decision-making power. They did not possess equal opportunity in making important family decisions. The rural women are the leading decision-makers in some specific areas of post-harvest activities such as storage and seed production whereas; economic control and decision-making powers are totally vested in the hands of men as the household authority.
  3. Socio-cultural obligations necessitated women to undertake certain responsibilities. For instance, only a few women got wages for their work in the region, most women either assisted other family members on the fields or did household chores without getting any wages. The nature and scope of the tasks performed by women were often dictated by men.
  4. In social ceremonies, participation of women were less in few districts. Women generally carried out preparations of marriages and other ceremonies which were related to household level. At society level, they were almost not permitted to participate due to the society's values, norms and culture. This reduces the contribution of women and limits their opportunity to participate in the wage market.
  5. In management of household women perform all household activities that mean they are the key person at household level. However, the women have no choice of having children or not, when and how many. Due to government and non-government organizations they are bit aware about family planning. The National Health Mission Program of Government of Assam focused on propagating family planning methods. Awareness campaigns on family planning, promoting reproductive health, preventing early marriage and spacing amongst children were regularly organized.
  6. In participating in natural resources management women had almost no access to manage the natural resource. They manage the natural resources at household level but rarely at the community level. Women play a major role in agricultural related pursuits like sowing, land preparation, harvesting, weeding, fodder collection, gross cutting, fertilization, transportation, irrigation and marketing of agricultural produce i.e., vegetables to nearby local market.
  7. There were cases and incidents of harassment and assault experienced by women. In some cases, sexual harassment was faced by women at workplaces and public sphere such as in market or while working in agricultural fields. According to personal observation and informal interview at field, there is no large-scale violence against women in society; incidents of domestic violence at the household level are on the rise.
The inquisition of women or gender-related issue is a significant issue; as women play an extremely important role in every society, yet they are deprived of rights and dignity along with facing gross negligence and discrimination. The analysis of observations made during the situational analysis of char area posits the gender perspective to vulnerabilities and deprivations in the chars of the Brahmaputra, Assam. Gender issues in char areas are undergoing transformation with the development in social change processes. Increasing landlessness and increasing poverty and natural disasters are exerting new pressures and conflict in the household. The women of char areas faces, food insecurity during flood, limited amounts of freedom due to harmful discreet practices of child marriage and restricted social and economic mobility. Intervention to alleviate poverty with micro-credit mechanism, increased income generating activities would enable greater participation in household decision making. With programme focusing on awareness -raising, education and constant advocacy, concerted efforts in implementing sustainable and durable change from various stakeholders would facilitate equal opportunities for the women of char areas of Assam. 

– Vandana Chauhan, Sonali Das, and Romon Boro, AIDMI

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Airports Safety Regulations in India

The flight, carrying 71 passengers and crew, crashed while landing at Nepal's Tribhuvan International Airport on March 12, 2018, killing 49 people. It is the worst aviation disaster to hit Nepal in years. South Asia has a chequered history when it comes to air safety, with crashes involving planes and helicopters since the year the first aircraft landed. Flooded airports are not a new scene.

Airports are an important asset to the nation as they facilitate the rapid transportation of people and ideas. Built at exorbitant costs, these airports are designed to be safe and robust megastructures for scores of air commuters. However, even these airports are not spared the wrath of disasters and emergencies.

Some recent examples of airports affected by natural disasters in India are as follows: 
1. Gujarat Floods, 2017-affected Ahmedabad International Airport.
2. Chennai Floods, 2015-affected Chennai Airport.
3. Cyclone Hudhud, 2014-affected Vishakhapatnam Airport.
4. Heavy Rains in Delhi, 2013 and 2011-affected Terminal 3 of Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport.
5. Mumbai Floods, 2015-affected MumbaiAirport.

Disasters and emergencies can lead to a lot of adverse impacts on the airports, some of them are listed below:
1. Inundated runways leading to disruption of flights.
2. Damage to runways jeopardising the take-offs and landings.
3. Damage to air surveillance installations leading to impairment of Air Traffic Control operations.
4. Damage to fuel systems and fuel farms which in turns poses a great potential risk for aircrafts.
5. Cancellation of flights due to inclement weather conditions.
6. Emergency landing/crash due to bad weather.
7. Partial to substantial damage to the airport infrastructure due to cyclones.

One of the most recent instances that highlight the vulnerability of airports in India to the ravages of natural hazards was the plight of Chennai airport during the floods of December 2015. In what was referred to as the worst floods in 40 years in Chennai, the Chennai Airport was submerged leading to disruption of operations. More importantly, 3500 passengers were left stranded at the airport because of the floods.

More recently, during the 2017 Gujarat Floods, the Ahmedabad Airport also sustained severe damages. Due to the heavy torrential downpour, the Ahmedabad airport's runway was damaged leading to the diversion of flights to Mumbai airport. As India's civil aviation sector expands, it behoves the decision makers to incorporate risk sensitive planning in airport construction and maintenance to ensure the functioning of airports during exigent circumstances.

Since 1958, India has witnessed 19 airplane mishaps that have caused to several deaths. At present there are 122 airports in India operated by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). To protect these airports and the flights operating there needs to be concerted airport disaster management provisions. Another important factor to consider is that the resilience of airports and airport staff is of paramount importance to ensure an effective and immediate response to crisis and disaster. This is because airports are key to ensuring the smooth and quick flow of relief in the aftermath of a disaster or emergency.

There has been an effort to address airport safety need in India. In a workshop jointly organized by AAI and UNDP in October 2015, several issues concerning the safety of airports in the face of emergencies brought about by natural hazards was discussed. Follow up actions were enlisted.

Speaking at this workshop, the then Chairman of AAI said, "The surge in demand for transporting lifesaving supplies in the immediate aftermath of disaster can often delay or stop relief from being delivered to people in need. Airports need to prepare themselves effectively for natural hazards."

UNDP and AAI have jointly organized Get Airports Ready for Disasters (GARD) workshops at Guwahati and Patna airports. The workshops examined the capacity of these airports to deal with sudden increases in volumes after disasters; finalize detailed preparedness and actions plans; and develop capacities of airport personnel to respond more efficiently to emergencies. UNDP also supported the pilot implementation of a disaster management planning and preparedness in Bagdogra and Vishakhapatnam airports.

To counter the vulnerability of the airports to such disasters, the following Airports Safety Regulations have been promulgated:
  1. Corporate Safety Management System Manual has been prepared by Airports Authority of India (AAI) in 2015, on the lines of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Guidelines. It is applicable at all locations/ aerodromes, and also details the practices, processes and procedures to achieve these Safety Requirements, which are essential for safe Air Navigation Services & Airport Operations in air space & at airports. 
  2. ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) Safety Management Manual, 2013 is intended to provide Countries/States with guidance on development & implementation of a State Safety Programme (SSP), in accordance with International Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs). The manual also provides guidance material for the establishment of Safety Management System (SMS) requirements by States (Countries).
  3. Communication, Navigation & Surveillance (CNS) Manual 2015 by AAI is intended to establish the CNS procedures and to provide information and instructions pertaining to CNS facilities, which are essential for the provision of safe and efficient air traffic services by AAI, including the coordination with neighbouring / adjacent states.
  4. Air Safety Procedures Manual, 2014 has been prepared by DGCA. The Manual has been developed for use and guidance for officers of Air Safety Directorate in the performance of their duties. All matters pertaining to Air Safety Officers duties, responsibilities and procedures have been covered with clarity, to the fullest extent possible, in this detailed manual.
  5. Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) were issued to specify the detailed requirements and compliance procedures for the establishment of Safety Management System. Primarily the thrust of CAR is on the aviation safety-related processes, procedures and activities for establishment of SMS, also including the safe transportation of dangerous goods, flight crew standards and air traffic management etc.
  6. Aircraft Act 1934 confers power to Central Government to regulate Civil Aviation in India. As per Section 4A of the Act, DGCA or any other officer empowered by Central Government shall perform safety oversight functions in respect of matters specified in this Act.  Section 5A of the Act empowers DGCA to issue directions for securing safety of aircraft operations.
  7. Aircraft Rules 1937:  In the exercise of the powers conferred under the sections of Aircraft Act 1934, the Central Government has made the Aircraft Rules, 1937. Part III of the Aircraft Rules is specifically focused on General Safety Considerations, which addresses the Rules 21 to 29 applicable to the Aircraft, including the safety management system, safety of the aircraft etc.
  8. Airports Authority of India Act 1994 (Amended in 2003) provides undertaking of the airports to AAI for better administration and cohesive management of airports and civil enclaves. The Act highlights the functions of AAI, including the provision of air safety services, search & rescue operations, in coordination with other authorities and ground aid support facilities.
  9. The Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Civil Aviation (Amendment) Act 1994 mainly highlights the safety and security related offences and committing of unlawful acts at the airport, followed by the powers of investigation, and the subsequent judiciary mechanism to address the same. 
  10. Airport Fire Service in India  Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) services provided at 67 airports as per guideline provided by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) & Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
  11. Fire Training establishments which are responsible for ensuring that safety services are well organized, equipped, staffed in such a manner to fulfill its principal objectives of Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting Services (ARFF).

Time has come for AAI and NDMA to join forces to ensure safety of India's airports from national disasters as well as enhancing the role and performance of India's airports before, during, and after a disaster to manage and reduce risks. Perhaps such joint action will place AAI and NDMP of India is a lead position in South Asia. 

— AIDMI Team
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Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Agenda for 2018: Disaster Displacement

India has made commendable efforts in implementing the mandate of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR). Through its National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP) launched in June 2016, India became one of the first nations to have an NDMP aligned with the priorities of the Sendai Framework. However, there are several challenges that can impede the implementation of India's NDMP.

Perhaps the most pressing of these challenges is that of disaster induced displacement, which has an adverse impact on all kinds of development outcomes. Unfortunately, the understanding of the true extent and scale of the impact of disaster induced displacement is at best limited.

Estimates (limited officials numbers are yet available) suggest that two out of five families who move from rural to urban areas in search of work and income move due to loss of livelihood or assets caused by floods, droughts, cyclones and other smaller local disasters.

Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Vice President of India, has recently said to Economic Times  that "reform, perform and transform" to move ahead. So NDMP needs to perform, reform and transform to directly address disaster related current and future displacements.

The recent South Asia Disaster Report (SADR) 2016 by Duryog Nivaran (DN) titled, "Are We Building Back Better" ( has implied that taming the factors that cause displacement after a disaster must be urgently addressed.. These factors include loss of livelihoods, productive assets, and basic services such as water, health, education, and connectivity.

India's development is more and more linked with the USA and Japan's economic development in the recent years. The ongoing USA-Japan talks to better coordinate in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) areas has not directly addressed the challenge of displacement and disasters that they may individually or jointly have to address in the event of a major disaster in India as both these countries are India's major partners in its economic development and strategic matters.

The UNDP project in India titled "Enhancing Institutional and Community Resilience to Disaster and Climate Change" has indicated the need for more focus on disaster related displacement from rural to urban area and account disaster related displacement.

The on-going work of Dr. Uposana Ghosh on social network analysis in Sunderbans delta in India  shows that disasters destroy social networking as well. The loss of social networking is not accounted for in the current post-disaster loss and damage assessments. The disrupted social networks when rebuilt can accelerate recovery.  Accelerated recovery reduces the negative impact of displacement on the displaced.

A policy event organized by UNICEF and Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG) in Delhi titled National Workshop on Climate Change and Disaster Resilience for Urban Children focused on children and the risks they face from extreme events. In the session titled, "Resilient Development Planning" it was highlighted that a greater focus is required on planning the prevention of displacement and the rehabilitation of displaced children after disasters in India. Almost three out of seven destitute children in India lose their family members or get separated from them due to extreme climate events or disasters like floods and cyclones.

In India, regional priorities for disaster related displacements are different.  In the North East, there is a possibility of trans border displacement both, across the states and across the international borders.  A major earthquake can easily lead to the movement of tens of thousands of  distressed families from Nepal or Bhutan or Bangladesh into Assam or Sikkim or West Bengal.

Dr. Walter Kalin who chairs the Platform on Disaster Displacement as a follow up to Nansen Initiative has attracted global policy attention to disaster related displacement at Sendai and has recently offered a detailed report on how national governments can take steps to move ahead in addressing disaster related displacement.

The following three steps need to be taken to address the rising challenge of disaster induced displacement in India. One, disaster induced displacement needs to be explained with evidence to policy makers and practitioners.  Two, the measures to address displacement must be institutionalised; and three a few pilot projects may be taken up.  Key partnerships and stakeholders from global to local level must be identified to join in this initiative.

Policies, regulations, and accountability will be the three strategic areas to address a wide range of displacement related issues. In a vibrant democracy like India, bottom-up community level displacement measures will be far more effective than top-down legal measures.

– Vandana Chauhan, AIDMI

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Tuesday, 3 April 2018

India Accelerates in Building Resilience issue no. 166, February 2018:

This issue of is titled "India Accelerates in Building Resilience" and tries to capture the various efforts in the form of international cooperation undertaken by India to foster resilience regionally and globally. For instance, India's efforts to leverage cooperation with countries like Russia and Bangladesh to pursue risk reduction outcomes are meticulously documented in this issue. Similarly, positive regional developments like the endorsement of the Disaster Management Bill in Nepal have also been highlighted in this issue.
This issue's contents includes: (i) India Accelerates in Building Resilience; (ii) Delhi–Dhaka Cooperation in Risk Reduction; (iii) India–Russia Coordinated Action on DRR; (iv) Nepal Endorses Disaster Risk Reduction Bill; (v) Potential Areas of Using Social Science To Reduce Disaster Risks In India; (vi) Rains in Chennai, 2017: A Historic View; (vii) Amadora Local Campaign — Making Cities Resilient; (viii) Unlikely Nuclear Disaster: Likely Preparedness Planning;and (ix) Facebook Steps up Efforts for Disaster Response in India.
Some of the best thinkers, researchers, experts, and activists, including Mihir R. Bhatt with AIDMI Team; Shabana Khan, World Social Science Fellow, ISSC and Director, Indian Research Academy, New Delhi; SubirDey, Assistant Professor (Ad hoc), Department of History, University of Delhi; Luis Carvalho, Civil Protection Chief, Municipal Commander, Amadora, Portugal; and Gautam Kamath, Public Policy Manager - India, South Asia & Central Asia, Facebook.

see more: 

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