Role of Women Self Help Groups in Disaster Resilience and Livelihood Regeneration: Post Flood Experience from Kerala

Author(s): Priyanjali Prabhakaran; Suja Kartha

Abstract / Introduction (download full article at the bottom)

The Indian state of Kerala witnessed one of the worst floods in nearly a century in August 2018. More than 400 lives were lost and more than a million persons had to move to relief camps. The government and the civic society together overcame the disaster with great effort. The disaster management plans in place required a revisit and a rethink. A study of the revival efforts of one of the worst affected villages was conducted in September 2018.

The study pointed out the need for a detailed spatial plan for disaster resilience and recovery. Also, it showed the power of women self-help groups in mitigating the effects on flood and reconstructing their livelihood. The case of a severely affected village is examined. The methods used include sectoral studies, observation and interviews. The village’s experience in facing and mitigating the floods gives rise to the need for a spatial planning strategy to address the disaster during its occurrence and the recovery to be followed. Critical infrastructures were affected during the floods, parts of the major connecting roads (State highways) were submerged in water, closing evacuation routes. Many Agricultural and fishing farms were submerged in addition to a lot of houses. Many small scale traders lost everything they had.

After the floodwaters receded many roads including major state highways could be used with minor repair. Women self-help groups called “Kudumbasree” units came forward to restart cooperative farming in the paddy, plantain and fish farms with the help of the agriculture department of the state government. The floods proved to be devastating. However normal life could restart with great effort. If the village had a proper plan in place to discourage building activity in flood plains and a recovery plan in place the extent of damages could be reduced. Living under the threat of more floods and droughts expected in the near future, this study proposes a resilience action plan using the social capital of women self-help groups.

Publication: ISOCARP Congress Proceedings, pp.1771-1775
Year: 2019

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