Kutch Navnirman Abhiyan
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EARRS Documentation Reports February 26a  (26th Feb 2001)

Relief Camp For the Earthquake Affected by The Narmada Bachao Andolan, at Balasar, Taluka Rapar, District Kutch
 February 16, 2001

Balasar Camp : Work Methodology and Approach

Looking at the situation in the area, the following approach and methodology was adopted for the work of Balasar Camp.

1. First of all, a survey was conducted in the villages and wandhs to gather the basic information like general information, number of households, total population, loss of life, destruction of houses, general infrastructure and amenities like water, power, school etc.

2. A village gram sabha meeting was called in every village and in this meeting, a village committee (Gram Samiti) was constituted consisting of 2-3 representatives from every caste group. This was done on the need and demand of the people of the villages to establish a proper distribution system.

3. It was decided that all relief work, especially distribution of relief material would be undertaken through these gram samitis.

We believe that the people themselves should conduct the relief operations. From a strategic point of view also this is the most appropriate. Hence, we encouraged these village committees to undertake and conduct all related activities.

After the village committees were formed, the detailed list of families /households in the villages were prepared by these village committees. (The last census was of 1991 - over 10 years old!) These lists included the name of the head of the household and the total members of the family.

Many organisations were doing the distribution of relief material based on a "per family" criterion. This resulted in the larger families getting proportionately less relief. We made "per head" as the criterion of relief distribution. An assessment was made for the "per head, per day" requirement of grain and food and the ration quota for 15 days/ 30 days were fixed for various food items like grains, daal, oil etc.

Looking at the situation, the following objectives were adopted for the Balasar Camp in this phase of immediate relief.

1. To conduct surveys in each village and form the village committees, and then get these village committees to prepare the full list of families / households and population of the village. After this, through the village committees:

¨ Make available immediate medical attention and immediate food rations for a few days at least

¨ Make available at least one tent / tarpaulin to every family

¨ Make available at least one blanket per person

¨ Subsequently, make available food rations for minimum one month for all the people

 2. To monitor the village committees and their functioning by cross-checking their work, through discussions in the village, follow up meetings and so on.

 Apart from these objectives, the broader objectives included:

 1. To establish a decentralised and representative (all caste / all group) system through the medium of the village committees so that all future relief and reconstruction work can be undertaken in a equitable way by the people themselves.

2. To ensure that the dignity and self respect of the people is maintained during the distribution of relief material and to make sure that a "dependency mentality" does not come in.

3. To present suggestions / plans for the longer term relief /rehabilitation / reconstruction work.

We started our work with the relief material that we had brought along with us. The work started with the distribution in Balasar village. For this, the Balasar village committee prepared the full list of households in the village. Since the village was big, family cards were prepared based on this list. Then, all the households assembled at a central place after fixing a proper time. The relief was distributed on the basis of the family cards under the supervision of the village committee and the volunteers of NBA and Balasar Camp. This process ensured that the distribution was done in a dignified way, and that the relief material reached everyone. Since the distribution was being undertaken by the village committee itself, there was no feeling of some "donor" coming in and "giving" them something. The people of the village were very pleased and impressed with this method of distribution.

This method of distribution was followed in all the rest of the villages. A special effort was made to trace out and reach such villages and wandhs which had not received any relief so far. Indeed, many of the interior wandhs were not even on the list of revenue villages.

At this point of time, we received information that the Haryana Government had adopted 28 villages in this area. However, in absence of any information and assistance, they had not been able to reach to any of the villages. Balasar was one of the villages adopted by Haryana Government. The Haryana Government was impressed with the distribution system established by us, and they requested us to assist them in the distribution. In this way we started working with the Haryana Government, which soon too established a camp in Balasar village. We worked in close coordination with this Camp of Haryana Government. The Haryana Government had ample supply of relief material.

We continued the work of holding village meetings, constituting the village committees, preparing village household lists etc. and provided the Haryana Government camp with the list of requirements of each village. The distribution was carried out by the village committees with the officers of the Haryana Government and volunteers of Balasar Camp present. The efforts of Haryana Government and our camp were complementary to each other.

Apart from these villages, we also selected 18 villages which neither Haryana Government nor any other organisation had adopted and where relief was not reaching. We distributed relief according to the objectives of the Camp to these villages. We also distributed relief in some of the villages adopted by the Haryana Government.

When the information about the work of the Balasar Camp and its methodology, the contacts established by it with the villages etc. reached other people, they expressed a desire to route their distribution through the Balasar Camp. The Government check post, as also other organisations started routing relief trucks to our Camp. Those who wanted to just bring in relief material, distribute it and return immediately found the Balasar Camp especially useful. They not only got proper guidance as to which village to go to for distribution, but the volunteers of the Balasar Camp also accompanied them and helped them with the distribution through the village committees. We at the Balasar Camp had full information on about 54 villages, including the households, population, requirements, what all relief had reached these villages and so on, and hence we were in a good position to guide the people who came in with relief material. Thus, the Balasar Camp also worked as a coordination unit for these 54 villages.

One of the important objectives of the camp was to establish that the people take responsibility for the relief work themselves. The village committees were an important part of this. Further, many of the people of villages, the youths, especially of Balasar and Manani wandh also joined the work of the camp as volunteers. They not only helped in the relief effort in their own villages, but also took part in holding meetings, distribution and other activities in other villages.