Kutch Navnirman Abhiyan
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Self Employed Womens Association's (SEWA's) Immediate Emergency Operations

The purpose of this expedited brief note is to address the critical situation that has tragically arisen in the state of Gujarat India, regarding the major earthquake, 7.9 on the Richter scale, centered near the city of Bhuj, on the morning of 26 January 2001.

The most severely effected districts in Gujarat are:

1. Kutch
2. Patan
3. Surendranagar
4. Ahmedabad

Kutch , of course, has sustained heavier losses of people and property - with the epicenter 20 km from city which is the main population center in the district.

The intensity of the earthquake in Ahmedabad city was 6.9 on the Richter scale, with a duration of 1.5 minutes.

The note describes the first hand experience collected by SEWA teams, based on their site field visits to all the above affected areas.

SEWA's teams began its early assessment of the extent of damages to its members from 27th January 2001 onwards.

A team of about 50 organisors surveyed the villages in the following districts and blocks.

  Name of District Taluka No. of villages No. of women
1 Kutch Naliya 20 12,000
2   Lakhpat 20 10,000
3   Bhuj 10 5,000
4 Surendranagar Dhangadhra 30 5,000
5   Halvad 20 6,000
6 Banaskantha Santalpur 20 10,000
    Total 120 48,000

The teams conducted a village wise house to house survey of the

- Extent of damage to the houses - fully collapsed, heavy damage.
- Extent of loss to household goods, tools - euipments.
- Extent of injuries suffered.
- Extent of damage to the child care centres, community centre.

This field assessment was used for organising SEWA's own distribution systems. The survey was also submitted to the district authorities.

They early field assessment of the damages suffered by SEWA's members due to the earthquake reveled :

(a) Damage to the houses :

Either the houses have collapsed completely or have suffered more than 80% damage - leaving them inhabitable. As a result, the members and their families have been rendered homeless. The families have also lost their household goods.

Currently in the villages all the members and their families are camping in the open or in makeshift shelters. Eating from community kitchens.

(b) Loss of assets/ tools and equipments :

Also the members suffered damages and loss to their assets and tools and equipments.

The salt pans in the deserts, have been damaged. The salt crystallisation has also been damaged. This has resulted into heavy loss to the salt farmers. The entire salt pans will have to be rebuilt, as early as possible. Any delay, will lead to failure of salt crystallisation and failure of salt production.

Not only the salt pans, but also the brine wells in the deserts have caved in along with the pump sets used to pump out brine.

Hence, these wells need to be redug immediately. The diesel pump sets also need to be replaced.

Agriculture :

In agriculture also, many small and marginal farmers have suffered heavy losses due to cracking of the fields, caving of wells, the motor pumps in the borewells have sunk.

This calls for immediate land levelling measures. Redigging of wells and repair of borewells and pump sets.

Artisans :

The three districts had rich craft heritage. Handicrafts was one of the major industries, in all the three districts. There are approximately 15,000 artisans in Kutch and Santalpur.

The artisans have been rendered homeless. However, with immediate supply of raw material and market linkages crafts can help rebuild the livelihoods of these 15,000 families.

Animal Husbandry :

Due to the earthquake, several cattle suffered injuries due to collapse of cattlesheds.

Also the families lost the fodder that had been stored in their houses.

Damage to water resources :

The water harvesting and storage structures in the villages have been badly affected.

- All the wells in the villages have either caved in or severely cracked.
- The roof rain water harvesting tanks have been severely cracked.
- The check dams have been also heavily cracked.

As a result the villages have been left water starved without any functional water resources and water storage facilities.

Damage of Field Co-ordination and Community Centre :

All of SEWA's field co-ordination and community centres have suffered heavy damages. The buildings have developed major structural damages and cracks. Therefore, the centers have become practically nonusable and non-functional.

As a result currently SEWA's field assessment and relief teams have no base to function from. The teams work from tents.

At night also the teams camp in open under sky daring all odds.

Child Care Centres :

All the 30 child care centres have been heavily damaged. None of the child care centers can function in their current state.

In two child care centers- Surel and Jogad in Surendranagar, we also lost three children, as they was buried under the building.

SEWA's immediate response :

The damage and destruction to more than 60,000 of SEWA's members in these three districts is huge.

However, SEWA responded immediately by providing the following emergency support to the members and their families :

    - Providing shelter material (Tents, Tarpaulin Sheets).
    - Providing family kits.
    - Providing food supplies.
    - Providing blankets.
    - Medical Aid.
    - Providing Water.

SEWA's field teams, through is District Centres and field offices coordinated with the district authorities and administration in charge of relief and rescue. The district offices function round the clock.

The field assessment reports were submitted to the district authorities immediately highlighting the type and extent of damages.

SEWA field teams also worked out the distribution systems, so that the relief material available with the Government also reached the affected villages in the districts.

Meanwhile at SEWA headquarters, the office geared up for coordination of relief supply and relief support to meet with the field needs. Co-ordination systems were established with

    - The Government control room.
    - The Government External Aid Cell.
    - The Donor agencies.
    - The UN agencies.
    - The Private Institutions and Agencies.
    - The NGO's.
    - The Health Units.

As a result of coordinated efforts till 2nd February 2001, SEWA has been able to undertake following emergency operations by distribution of :




No. of Village



Tents/ Tarpaulin Sheets



800 tents










3500 Tarpaulin sheets

















Family kits
















- Other food items



7 box biscuits

34 bags and 220 k.g. other food





2 cartoon biscuits

750 packets and 250 k.g. other food





4 cartoon biscuits

1200 k.g. and 2250 packets other food





82 bags





9 bags






The distribution system of SEWA is as follows :
    - Team of 20 field organisors are in action in each district.

    - The teams divide roles and responsibilities of coordination with Government, distribution of items to villages, maintaining distribution and stock records.

    - The relief materials are first transported from Ahmedabad to the district Centres at Bhuj, Dhrangadhra, and Radhanpur. From the district centres, the materials are loaded into trucks or Jeeps and transported to the villages as per the route.
It is then distributed to the families as per the list prepared during the survey.

Since the field conditions are quite difficult, the teams rotate every four days. The new team takes over.

All the above relief supplies were made available by

    - Government of Gujarat by providing food packets, medical aid and cash doles.

    - UNICEF - provided 25,000 blankets, 12,000 family kits and about 48,000 tarpaulin sheets.

    - Peace Winds Japan, by providing 6000 tents.

SEWA and our members are also extremely thankful to the following friends and well wishers for their immediate financial contributions to undertake the operations immediately :

    - Holdeen India Fund - Kathy Sreedhar
    - Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI)
    - Community Aid Abroad
    - Canadian International Development Agency
    - AID
    - Howard Spodek
    - VEPAR - Asha Sarabhai
    - Jayendra Naidu - Jay & Jayendra Group

SEWA with the help of Community Health Centre, Radhanpur and Swaminarayan and Akshardham and Indian Medical Association, Dombivali, also set-up a Medical camp with full fledged operations theatre. More than 1500 injured patients were treated. The details are as follows :

Date Cases Refer Death
26/1/2001 449 118 28
27/1/2001 407 88 4
28/1/2001 187 50 1
29/1/2001 108 21 1
30/1/2001 55 1 1
31/1/2001 10 Nil Nil
(Up to PM) 1216 278 35

With the help of Embassy of Denmark, a 14 bed hospital was airlifted from Denmark, and has been setup at Gandhidham with all medical facilities.

    - SEWA's field teams have also taken up responsibility of distribution of cash doles sanctioned by the Government of Gujarat to the affected families, in al the three districts.

    - SEWA's Health and Insurance teams have initiated an assessment of the Community and Occupational health effects on our members. As well as reimbursing the insurance claims.

This has been SEWA's immediate response. Challenge ahead is of rehabilitation and rebuilding the lives of the members. Provide livelihood security against disasters to the families.

SEWA's long term rehabilitation plan, therefore needs to incorporate disaster mitigation measures. All the three affected districts are already facing second consecutive drought year - the drought proofing measures now have to integrate earthquake rehabilitation measures- that lead to disaster mitigation and provide livelihood security.

Some of the rehabilitation measures will include :

    - Craft as livelihood security programme
    - Fodder planning and Budgeting.
    - Housing upgradation and reconstruction of disaster proof houses.
    - Rebuilding of child care centres.
    - Rebuilding of Field Co-ordination and community centres.
    - Reviving and regenerating water resources.
    - Insurance services
    - Counseling services to cope with trauma.