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news | February 20, 2015 | India | Emergency

Majuli Island now better prepared and equipped to respond to disasters

Majuli, located where the Brahmaputra and Subansari rivers meet, is highly prone to flooding, along with risks of cyclones, earthquakes, riverbank erosion, embankment breach, etc. In 1998, the floodwaters submerged almost the entire island, wiping out entire standing crops and leaving hundreds of islanders homeless. ACTED has been working with local community since 2012 to reduce disaster risks in Jorhat, a district in the North-eastern State of Assam.

To make sure people living on the island are better prepared to face disaster, ACTED in India has been working with local community, supporting 93,992 people living in 8 districts to be better prepared not just at an individual household level but also to strengthen local authority.

ACTED teams also worked with local community to create a task force teams for each district in charge of coordinating action and supporting people during a disaster. Each team was trained on different topics like ‘search & rescue’, first aid, water hygiene and sanitation and shelter. After the trainings, the teams were able to do things like building a raft with nothing more than bamboo, barrels and rope, and do a bandage for a collar bone fracture.

Eight mock drills were organized during the project. Mr. Rahul, a member of the search and rescue task force team said: “This is my first time attending such a program. It is really important for people in general as well as the concerned department to be ready for an incident like this. I wish we could conduct it in the whole of Majuli”.

Many community members also joined in to watch the exercise, such as a nurse who said: “It was like a real-life scenario and I believe the exercise will educate many people like me about what to do when disaster strikes.”

Providing a functioning and safe location for people to gather and stay during flood times was also an objective for ACTED. Our teams constructed and handed over 5 evacuation shelters to the relevant authorities and communities.

Local disaster management authorities have now asked ACTED to help them replicate the model of the project to the whole of the Jorhat District, supporting 10 million people, by working on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.