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					A Review of Gender Issues in Disaster
Risk Reduction (DRR) in India and Sri
               Lanka




                       Submitted to


                    UNISDR


                                                  Submitted by

 Practical Action – Regional Programme (India, Pakistan, Sri
                                                      Lanka)
                         No. 05, Lionel Edirisinghe Mawatha
                                                 Colombo 05
                                                   Sri Lanka
                                  www.practicalaction.org.lk



                                                             1
                                       Contents

Acknowledgements                                                 03

Executive Summary                                                04
1.0 Background                                                   08
1.1 Objectives                                                   09
1.2 Justification for the Review                                 10
1.3 Methodology                                                  10
       1.3.1 Gender as a Conceptual Framework                    11
       1.3.2 Capacities and Contributions                        13
       1.3.3 Hyogo Framework for Action                          13
1.4 Limitations of the Review                                    14

2.0 Government Policy and Institutional Context                  16
2.1 The Policy Contexts                                          16
       2.1.1 Gender Inputs in Disaster Risk Reduction Policies   18
2.2 Governmental Institutions and Mechanisms of DRR              20
3.0 The Ground Situations in Disaster Risk Reduction             32
3.1 Disaster Preparedness and Responses                          32
3.2 Women‟s Awareness and Participation in DRR / DM              44
3.3 Development of Women‟s Capacities and Skills                 48
       3.3.1 Livelihoods                                         49
       3.3.2 Health                                              52
       3.3.3 Infrastructure Development in DRR / DM              54
Findings                                                         56

Recommendations                                                  59

References                                                       63

Abbreviation                                                     64




                                                                      2
Acknowledgements
A Review of Gender Issues in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in India and Sri Lanka is an outcome
of an objective outlined by the UNISDR to guide governmental officials in both DRR and
development agencies in South Asia and the intergovernmental organizations. This study has
reviewed the current DRR initiatives at national, provincial / state and local levels to assess the extent
to which gender concerns have been internalized.

Practical Action undertook the overall study in Sri-Lanka and India and is grateful to its partner in
India, Knowledge Links for conducting the study in India.

Dr. Maithree Wickramasinghe, Consultant Researcher on Gender, gave overall guidance to this
research providing the conceptual framework, carrying out the policy analysis for Sri Lanka, and the
analysis and compilation of the findings from the two country studies.

Kusala Wettasinghe, Consultant Researcher, advised the field work and analysis for Sri Lanka; Karin
Fernando, Centre for Poverty Analysis, assisted with the analysis and compiled the Sri Lanka
findings.
Nisheeth Kumar, Knowledge Links and Prema Gopalan, Swayam Shikshan Prayog, India coordinated
the research in India. Thanks are extended to them and Gabriel Britto and Pritha Bawa of Knowledge
Links for their inputs in conducting the study.

Practical Action staff who contributed towards achieving and compiling the study were Buddika
Hapuarachchi, Ramona Miranda, Dilhani Thiruchelvarajah, Dr. Vishaka Hidellage, Ranga Pallawala
and Ranasinghe Perera.

Field level data collectors in Sri Lanka were Kalpana Ambrose, Chandana Siriwardena, Sepala
Manamperi, Asitha Wewaldeniya, Ananda Uyanwatte and partners of Development with Disabled
Network.

We gratefully acknowledge the financial support extended by UNISDR and hope the findings would
lead to gender inclusive development policy and DRM practice, which will benefit the vulnerable men
and women in South Asia.




                                                                                                        3
Executive Summary
Disaster Risk Reduction / Disaster Management Policies and Institutional Structures /
Mechanisms
The increasing impacts of disasters in recent times as well as the international standards developed for
disaster risk reduction have led to national legislation (in the form of disaster management acts) being
formulated in India and Sri Lanka. Both Acts aim to build safer and disaster resilient communities by
developing a holistic, proactive, multi-disaster (and in the case of India, technology driven and
community-focused) strategy for disaster risk reduction (DRR) that will be achieved through a culture
of mitigation and preparedness so as to decrease the impact of disasters on people. National policy
documents arising from these legislations in both countries tend to portray women predominantly as a
vulnerable group (though some of the state policies in India refer to the specific problems of women
in disaster situations and the need to empower women through a livelihoods-based economic
empowerment strategy). There are no budgetary allocations for women to engage and support in
disaster risk reduction (DRR) or adaptation in both countries. There is a knowledge gap between
policy developments at international / national levels and the DRR / DM actors and stakeholders at
the ground-levels. In Sri Lanka, national strategies on climate have been developed to address the
issues related to climate change adaptation but DRR and development strategies are yet to recognize
the CCA aspects in their strategies.

Both countries have instituted DRR / DM structures and mechanisms chaired by the highest political
authorities in the country. Sri Lanka uses a top-down approach in its implementation, using existing
government administrative structure (with modifications) to plan and operationalise disaster-related
activities – no matter the scale or type of disaster. While this assures stability and a degree of efficacy,
it may not necessarily be conducive to new approaches to DRR such as gender mainstreaming unless
special efforts are made. While India also exhibits a similar top-down approach, the smallest units of
DRR / DM, the local Disaster Management Teams (DMTs), were present in many villages.
Addressing gender issues was seen mainly as one of including as many women as members, wherever
possible in India. However, this seems more of an afterthought - determined by the discretion of the
people concerned rather than a systemic provision to ensure gender equity. In Sri Lanka, the
participation of men and women in these structures at local level differed according to whether men
and women were involved in paid or volunteer work. There is a higher participation of women in
voluntary work (which is of lesser recognition), while men are more involved in paid positions.
Furthermore, paid work roles assigned to or undertaken by women were not on equal terms in most
cases with men.

Women are usually identified as the main stakeholders and first responders in many disaster
situations. However, their decision making potential and capacities are rarely respected or
acknowledged in formal processes. The marginalization of women from governance structures and
their lack of representation vis-à-vis government on a range of community issues pose a significant
threat to effective DRR in both countries.

On the whole, development, DRR functions on three tiers of engagement - at the levels of
government, INGOs / NGOs and community-based organizations. Indian women‟s Self-Help Groups
(SHGs), that had already mobilized women, were one existing means by which women‟s participation
in DRR has been instituted at grassroots. In contrast, in Sri Lanka, existing government structures
(with some modifications) were used for DRR / DM at local levels. Additionally, NGOs and CBOs,
who were already involved in development activities stressed, have also been co-opted into the



                                                                                                          4
process. Thus, effective gender mainstreaming in DRR is more or less reliant on the existing mandates
of these NGOs.

Disaster Preparedness and Responses
Risk and vulnerability assessments of their own situations by local women‟s groups were identified as
positive features in women‟s overall empowerment - as women are then able to take control of
reducing their own vulnerabilities. Women are also active in the maintenance of both contemporary
and indigenous early warning systems in the two countries, yet are not officially recognized in terms
of policies and programmes. Women and Men have noticed that the climate is changing and the
frequency and severity of the external shocks is on the increase. They have also adopted many coping
mechanisms or strategies based on their traditional knowledge that they believe are not sufficient to
address the current issues.

In community preparedness and action such as Disaster Management Taskforces in India as well as
family preparedness in Sri Lanka, women‟s and men‟s roles / responsibilities are stereotyped
according to traditional gender assumptions. Education, indigenous knowledge, specific DM and
gender training can make a considerable difference to communities‟ skills and capacities of
minimizing risks and of responding effectively to disasters. Collaboration with government in DRM
has resulted in women attaining a degree of leadership at the community level in India. However,
some of the impediments to move forward in both countries have been the limited and selective
access of women to government information and other training opportunities, and the non
incorporation of the use of traditional knowledge by women and men into DRR / DM endeavours.

Women’s Awareness and the Participation in DRR / DM
Women‟s views and roles in reducing disaster risk are seen as essential given that they have a wider
understanding of the long-term effects of disaster as well as a keener awareness of preventative action.
Moreover, community women are usually the first to respond to a disaster. A primary hindrance to
women‟s participation and the marginalization of women‟s issues is that of the gender bias in
communities as well as women‟s own assumptions about gender appropriateness. In Sri Lanka,
Village Disaster Management Committees (VDMCs) in villages have been conduits for the
participation of women in DRR / DM but they were dependent on such factors as an absence of men
in the community as well as women surmounting gender prejudices. In India, one key entry point for
women‟s participation at community DRR / DM has been through women‟s Self-Help Groups
(SHGs) building resilience not only from regular savings and inter-loaning for livelihoods and
improved emergency preparedness, but also in terms of their increased participation in public life and
provision of basic services such as water, sanitation, and health.. In both countries, such savings and
credit groups have led to the strengthening of social networks that are crucial in times of disasters.
They represent an untapped potential for systematic DRR / DM action. Formalizing roles of these
women‟s groups vis-à-vis DRR with a clear scope of responsibilities and activities will enhance the
DRR continuum at village levels.

Development of Women’s Capacities and Skills
The capacity to deal with a hazardous situation has a direct bearing on the nature and degree of
vulnerability of a community, and the capacities and contributions of men and women in DRR are
considered as a key measure of gender equity and equality. While the review looks at gender-inclusive
and sensitive DRR efforts in overall policy and programmes, it also looks closely at women-specific
contributions to DRR / DM in terms of participation and inputs, examines capacity development
promoted policies / programmes at various levels, and the capacities / contributions made by
individual and collective women outside formal interventions.
                                                                                                      5
The development of resilience through increased capacities and skills of communities is crucial not
only for DRR but also for short and long-term recovery from a disaster. Thus, addressing basic needs
in terms of services and infrastructure, ensuring access to water, health services and sanitation,
securing livelihoods, ensuring food and fodder security and working on connectivity are seen as
means of reducing vulnerability to disasters and creating resilience in communities. As community
members, women have a crucial role to play in such community development efforts, and women
believe that all these sectors are linked to disasters; e.g. access to clean drinking water will prevent
water borne disease, alternative livelihoods will provide income for affected traditional livelihoods,
access to primary health centres will reduce health expenditure in a time where disease and health
problems are increased.

Women‟s access to and involvement in capacity-building programmes and measures in India and Sri
Lanka is varied across different sectors. There is a tendency for the capacity-building to be in the lines
of gender stereotypes, although there is evidence of many instances where it has gone beyond that to
be sensitive to women‟s needs, issues and aspirations. For instance in building capacity for income
generating activities at community level, the distinctions drawn can be related not only to the
community‟s cultural and social assumptions with regard to what are considered gender appropriate
vocations but also to the assumptions of the institutions that provide these services.

Health programmes (both government and non-government) oriented towards addressing the health
and wellbeing of the community were directed at women presumably given gender assumptions about
women‟s gender roles and responsibilities. However, women were not very involved in the decision-
making process or planning processes, despite the recognition that they have capacities and
experience as well as more responsibility for food and nutrition given their gender roles – especially
in terms of disaster situations (i.e. food processing, storing food). Given other gender stereotypes
about women‟s / men‟s physical capacities and characteristics, it is possible that Sri Lankan mental
health programmes may not distinguish the mental health issues of men.

Another measure of recovery from disaster is the capacity of communities to construct and reconstruct
the damaged infrastructure facilities in the disaster-stricken locality. In general, there was a lack of
women‟s involvement in infrastructure-related activities within the Sri Lankan sample except in post-
disaster situations when women have been co-opted into some DRR activities – though not at
decision-making levels. In comparison, Indian SHGs were better positioned to participate / represent
their views in the design and execution of development interventions that mitigate disaster risk in their
villages and communities because of their established status within the community and familiarity
with the ground reality, and have been involved in negotiating with state governments for the use of
infrastructure facilities as well as critiquing manmade infrastructure risks.

Recommendations

There is a general consensus in both countries that women play and need to play a major role in
reducing disaster risk. As there is a remarkable amount of ambivalence in the way women are
perceived and presented within the DRR context in both Sri Lanka and India, there has yet to be a
country wide strategic action plan to mainstream gender concerns into DRR initiatives and a
monitoring and evaluation system to track its progress in both countries.

Existing governmental and non-governmental institutional structures that are used for DRR do not
always allow for the participation of women in disaster planning and decision-making although not
purposively structured to discriminate against women, factors such as accepted social / gender roles
and cultural values tend to marginalize them, and this will need to change if progress is to be made.

                                                                                                        6
Awareness on national and international DRR / DM policy among the district level officials
implementing the Sri Lankan village disaster management committees (VDMCs), NGOs and the
communities needs to be increased.

DRR policy and programmes need to be adequately backed by appropriate gender expertise, budget
allocations for recurring expenditure on mainstreaming gender or special funds for women‟s
empowerment. Access to knowledge/awareness of their entitlements and rights were not evident
among men or women in Sri Lanka, hampering communities capitalizing on services available.

Constraining factors such as social norms and cultural / religious values and attitudes (that do not
acknowledge women‟s physical strength and knowledge) as well as women‟s own perceptions of their
abilities still hamper women‟s capacity to participate and be given equal weight / recognition for their
contributions. Nevertheless, changing circumstances in Sri Lanka such as conflict, men leaving the
villages in search of employment etc, have resulted in the increased participation of women in all
types of disaster activities. There is also evidence that post-disaster engagement of women‟s groups in
the provision of public services has helped overcome traditional social and cultural barriers to public
participation which earlier made it difficult for women to act and speak out as individuals in rural and
remote communities. Furthermore, organized women gained the confidence to play multiple roles of
community organizers, problem solvers, information managers and service providers, helping them to
oversee risk reduction initiatives that are critical to building community resilience. Thus women‟s
CBOs such as the self-help groups in India show potential and opportunity for replicating models for
DRR and climate change interventions.

Women‟s own analyses of risk and women‟s risk reduction strategies (including time tested ways of
coping with risk in restoring livelihoods, rebuilding homes, ensuring access and quality in essential
services) have yet to be viewed as significant DRR activities by external agencies in general and
government in particular. Taking stock of resources and capacities those women and their collectives
can and bring through their self help/mutual help initiatives can be a starting point for building
community resilience.

The key recommendations the study makes stem from the need to shift the conceptual standpoint of
DRR / DM policies in both countries away from seeing women solely as a vulnerable group, or as
homemakers, or to be protected, or as vessels of cultural prejudices and instead take into account the
needs, interests, skills and capacities of various community groups – especially women and gender in
all tiers of DRR engagement by government, NGOs or community; in policy, mechanisms or
programmes.




                                                                                                      7
1.0 Background
The interface between arbitrary human development and increased vulnerability to natural hazards has
led to growing consciousness of the escalating impact of natural disasters in recent times. These
hazards are multiple and are related to floods, cyclones, landslides, earthquakes, droughts, tornadoes,
lightening strikes, severe thunder storms and coastal erosion (as well as fire, epidemics, explosions,
air raids, civil and external strife, environmental pollution including industrial and air hazards, urban
and forest fires, oil spills, chemical accidents, radiological emergencies and nuclear disasters). There
is also a growing awareness that these hazards are compounded by the changing climate regime.

While India has faced a number of major disasters from time to time and was already in the process of
developing national policies of disaster management, the wide-scale recognition of the need for
comprehensive disaster risk reduction arose in Sri Lanka only after the devastatingly tragic
consequences of the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004. However, as opposed to the provision of post-
disaster emergency relief and reactive disaster responses, current development policy and plans
emphases are on long-term proactive disaster risk and vulnerability reduction. DRR involves
anticipating natural hazards as part of the normal course of life and preparing for its impact on human
beings through integrated as well as specifically-focussed development interventions.

For South Asians, adapting to climate change roughly translates to better managing disaster situations.
Climate change discussions began in these countries after the Earth Summit, and the emphasis on
developing sustainably. In the late 1990s, a project by the Asian Development Bank to develop
capacities of South Asian states on responding to climate change encouraged the states to set up
institutions looking at these aspects, and broad strategies were identified to address climate change
impacts. In Sri Lanka, this has been reflected in the first national communication for the UNFCCC in
2000, and in the setting up of the inter-ministerial group. Currently, Sri Lanka is in the process of
formulating the second national communication. India signed up to the UNFCCC in 1992 and
submitted its initial National Communication (NATCOM) in 20041.

In both countries, the institutional set up for DRR and CCA are in different line ministries, but the
need to work together is emerging, especially as at community level it does not really matter who is
responsible, so long as addressing disaster risks and development take their needs into account.

Women from grassroots communities have often been the most affected by disasters and have
contributed immensely to addressing DRR issues, though their contributions have not always been
recognised in policy, programmes and major post-disaster projects. For a long time, policy makers
and practitioners have dealt with development and disaster mitigation work as gender neutral; on the
basis that what applies to men should also be of relevance to women. This has led to gaps in
addressing the needs of women and in increasing their dependency; as well as in the marginalization
and discrimination of women - given that these approaches do not account for gender differences in
people‟s needs, aspirations, roles, responsibilities, capacities and vulnerabilities in life (Ariyabandu
and Wickramasinghe 2004).

Thus, a critical shift in disaster management that has taken place is that of responding to the
compelling evidence-based call for a women-focused approach that prioritizes the needs and
participation of women in disaster mitigation. This has, in recent times, also led to gender-focused
approaches deigned to account for the imbalances existing within gender relations in disaster risk


1
 Climate Change website, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Government of India, Retrieved from
http://www.envfor.nic.in/cc/index.htm
                                                                                                       8
reduction and management efforts. Addressing gender concerns is seen as fundamental to achieving
some of the common as well as differing aspirations and needs of both men and women.
Contemporary thinking however advocates combining a women‟s focus with gender concerns in
development efforts including disaster risk reduction and management (ibid). Thus a combined
women‟s / gender approach is expected to conceptually address the current imbalances existing within
gender relations (in achieving the common aspirations of both men and women), as well as make
visible, account for and redress the often unarticulated different aspirations of women.

1.1 Objectives

The Review of Gender in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in India and Sri Lanka is part of a larger
project on “Building Resilience to Tsunami in the Indian Ocean”. The overall aim of the project is
that of building the resilience of communities and nations to disasters by strengthening national and
local institutions, mechanisms and capacities for disaster risk reduction and management. The
objectives of the Review on Gender in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in Sri Lanka and India are as
follows:

1. To review institutional capacity to mainstream gender and DRR / DM into development sectors,
   with a specific focus on economic development, and climate change adaptations
2. To improve conceptual and practical understandings of gender-DRR linkages specific for the
   region.
3. To provide national governments with recommendations from the review, and guidelines as to
   how capacity for gender mainstreaming in DRR can be enhanced sustainably.
4. Provide a baseline status on gender and DRR in the region


Within the objectives, the review also attempted to;
       Review how and the extent to which gender concerns have been internalized into the current
        DRR and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) initiatives at national, state, district and local
        levels in India and Sri Lanka and
       Identify and record women‟s capacities and contribution to DRR and CCA within existing
        gender relations in the afore-mentioned countries.

1.2 Justification for the Review

The equal and equitable participation of women and men in DRR is considered an overarching goal of
the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) of building the resilience of nations and communities to
disasters. It can also be identified as a fundamental condition to achieving the Millennium
Development Goal (MDG) of sustainable socio-economic development. This review thus examines
the aspects, levels and extents to which gender concerns have been incorporated in recent DRR
endeavours in India and Sri Lanka.

The review is based on the assumption that issues of gender and DRR and CCA have crucial inter-
linkages. In fact, good practices of disaster risk reduction worldwide provide strong evidence that a
gender inclusive approach to DRR and CCA have benefited both men and women and therefore
through extension, families, communities, societies and nations. However, disaster risk reduction and
climate change adaptation and development programmes in the sub region could be made even more


                                                                                                     9
effective, efficient and equitable through a better understanding and integration of gender relations
and related issues.

The examination of the post-tsunami work in DRR currently being carried out in India and Sri Lanka
are good examples through which to ascertain the possibilities of gender equitable / equal
developmental interventions in the respective countries. This is because it would provide insights into
the commonalities and differences in DRR policy and action required by and prescribed for the
specificities of each country situation. A key outcome of the review would be to identify how the
work in these two countries can lead to broad recommendations on DRR and CCA that can be
adopted in a sustainable manner by national governments and non-governmental organizations in the
sub-region. Thus the review will also be a resource for key development initiatives and DRR and
CCA agencies within the region.

1.3 Methodology

The review of gender in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) is based
on two study reports of research undertaken for the project by Knowledge Links / Swayam Shikshan
Prayog in India and Practical Action in Sri Lanka. They include literature reviews of the
documentation on DRR and CCA at policy level; field studies on how women‟s and gender concerns
have been integrated into current developmental programmes in governmental and non-governmental
work; as well as fieldwork on the roles and responsibilities as well as capacities and vulnerabilities of
women and men relating to DRR and CCA within their respective communities. Data emanates from
documentation, interviews and focus group discussions through the research studies that were carried
out in Sri Lanka and India. Given the qualitative sample involved, the data is not fully
representational of the ground situations in either Sri Lanka or India. Nevertheless, the findings of the
review are expected to provide guidance to the national governments in the sub-region and to the
SAARC Disaster Management Centre, on how to improve the integration of gender concerns into
disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in key development sectors.

Accordingly, in Sri Lanka the research questions were designed to establish:

       The extents to which gender issues are considered in DRR and CCA mechanisms and
        activities taking place at the district and ground level
       The levels of participation of men and women in these mechanisms / activities
       How the capacities of men and women are perceived and used in DRR.

The selection of the research sites in Sri Lanka was based on a purposive sampling of disaster
proneness (of districts and villages) from Disinventar data (2009). They include both tsunami affected
and non-affected districts in order to provide some comparative information on DRR including CCA
and gender. All in all, the four districts of Ampara, Batticaloa, Hambantota and Kegalle were selected
for study. While Ampara, Batticaloa and Hambantota are generally considered to be highly disaster
prone districts (vis-à-vis droughts) they were also affected by the tsunami. Kegalle is also considered
highly disaster-prone given its propensity for landslides and was selected as a district that was not
affected by the tsunami. Within the districts the sample was narrowed down further by selecting 10 of
the most disaster-prone GN divisions, again based on the Desinventar database as well as in
consultation with district and divisional-level stakeholders. The sample aimed to be inclusive of
disaster-proneness, multi hazard impacts and ethnicity. However, the sample size was also selected
based on the availability of time and resources.


                                                                                                      10
Data related to DRR and CCA policies, structures and participation were gathered mainly from the
Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with government and NGOs and some of the Key Person
Interviews (KPIs). They were not specifically raised in the FGDs with communities. However, the
FGDs with the communities were able to provide information on issues of participation in disaster
management committees, gender issues and other community activities. Issues related to how men
and women respond to disasters and their identification of capabilities were from data gathered
through all the FGDs and KPIs. Climate change aspects of DRR were given specific emphasis in the
community FGDs.

In India, the districts of Cuddalore and Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu and Jamnagar and Kutch districts
in Gujarat were selected for the field study. The criteria for the selection of these districts were two-
fold: one, their location in multi-hazard and highly disaster prone areas; two, their experience of mega
disasters in recent past including the Asian Tsunami in 2004 and the Gujarat earthquake in 2001. The
Indian field study was aimed at:

       Identifying the capacities and the contribution of grassroots women to disaster resilience.
       Assessing the extent to which gender concerns have been internalized in DRR and CCA
        initiatives.

Research data on specific initiatives at both policy and programme levels was generated from
interviews with government officials, the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority, the UNDP
and NGOs as well as office bearers, facilitators and members of grassroots community.

Research methods used in India were qualitative and included qualitative analysis of the policy,
programme, and plan documents; in-depth interviews based on semi-structured questionnaire; and
focus group discussion (FGDs) with organized groups of women, mainly self help groups (SHGs) of
women.

1.3.1 Gender as a Conceptual Framework

The review was conceptualized on the central assumption that existing gender relations are unequal
and inequitable. Consequently, the dual goals of gender equality and gender equity will direct the
analysis of DRR and CCA initiatives by the respective governments, INGOs, NGOs, the affected
communities and individuals.

    a) Firstly, there is an equal analytical focus on men and women so as to fulfil goals of gender
       equality. Gender equality entails that the common interests, needs, roles, responsibilities,
       rights, vulnerabilities, capacities, opportunities and contributions of women and men are
       considered equal or the same.
    b) Secondly, there is a separate analytical focus on women so as to fulfil goals of gender equity.
       Gender equity is based on the simultaneous understanding that there are certain interests,
       needs, roles, responsibilities, rights, capacities, opportunities and contributions of men and
       women that are not the same. There are some sectors in life to which women may contribute
       more and in different ways; however they may not always be visible or accounted for –
       especially within the family and community. Consequently, the interests, needs, roles,
       responsibilities, rights, capacities, opportunities, and contributions of women and men are
       considered different and therefore need to be considered equitably.

Gender mainstreaming is an accepted organizational practice of achieving gender equity / equality.
Gender mainstreaming refers to the process of consistently incorporating a sensitivity of gender
                                                                                                      11
differences (and commonalities) in policy, needs analysis, institutional structures / mechanisms,
planning, training, budgeting, implementation, monitoring and evaluation in organizations. In
development organizations it includes the restructuring of organizational structures / projects and
programmes so as to eliminate inequalities and equities between the men and women involved. It may
involve affirmative action of quotas and targets to rectify historical inequalities. The ultimate goal of
gender mainstreaming is gender equity / equality through:

        The acknowledgement of women‟s capacities, skills and contributions to development.
        The equal participation of women in DRR and CCA and other development efforts at all
         levels.
        The equal representation of women‟s opinions, interests, needs, vulnerabilities, and
         aspirations in decision-making / governance of DRR and CCA and other development
         initiatives.
        The equal representation of various differentials in women (such as race, caste, class,
         language, transgender, region, etc.)
        The fulfilment of gender-based needs and interests (such as those arising from gender roles2 /
         responsibilities3 / relations4 as well as those arising from the biological differences of men and
         women).
        Access to and control over resources, incomes, benefits, training opportunities, etc.

For the purpose of the review, it is necessary to make distinctions between a) the participation of
women in DRR/CCA at all levels as targets / beneficiaries / equal or equitable contributors etc. in
terms of numbers, b) the representation of women as conveying the perspectives / interests of a
collective group or profile, and c) gender mainstreaming as the means by which the gendered
perspectives, interests and needs of both women and men are institutionalized. Thus the participation
of women in DRR programmes, the representation of women‟s interests and perspectives as well as
the integration of gender and women‟s concerns in DRR are key indicators of gender equity and
equality. Though the review does not utilize precise quantitative methods to measure the exact
numbers of women‟s and men‟s participation it does however make a qualitative assessment /
guesstimation of it in DRR policy-making and implementation. It also attempts to study the extent to
which women‟s views and opinions have been taken into account as well as the extent to which they
have been integrated into policy and practice.

Given that the central assumption of the review is that existing gender relations are unequal and
inequitable, the conceptual approach of the Indian study was based on the theoretical position that
empowering organised groups of women as actors and change agents tends to transform gender
relations at the community level in a more gender equitable fashion.

1.3.2 Capacities and Contributions


2
  The different gender roles expected from women and men (and girls / boys) within the family.
3
  The different gender responsibilities that are undertaken by women and men at home, in the workplace, in
terms of cultural practices, the community and internationally.
4
  Network of relations occurring between men and women in any given sphere – within the family and extended
family, the workplace, in schools; among strangers, acquaintances, colleagues, friends and relatives; in both
official and intimate relationships. These include actual lived gender relations as well as the collective
perception of gender relations taking place in society. Gender relations are power-packed – and therefore, result
in gender inequalities / inequities.

                                                                                                              12
In disaster management literature, disaster risk is often described as a function relating to two factors:
hazard and vulnerability. The idea and fact of vulnerability is directly linked to that of capacity, as the
capacity to deal with a hazardous situation has a direct bearing on the nature and degree of
vulnerability of a community.

Capacities and contributions are conceptualized and defined as follows. Capacities are recognized as
the existing strengths of individuals, social and other affected groups according to the Capacities and
Vulnerabilities Framework (Anderson and Woodrow 1989). They can be related to people‟s material
and physical resources, their social resources and their beliefs and attitudes. Capacities are built over
time and determine people‟s abilities to cope with disasters and recover from them (Anderson and
Woodrow 1989; March, Smyth and Mukopadhyay 1999). Divisions and intersections in affected
communities relating to gender, social levels and groups as well as the changes that take place over
time (pre / during and post disasters) pertaining to vulnerabilities, capacities (particularly vis-à-vis
livelihoods) are other dimensions that also need to be taken into account in DRR (Ariyabandu and
Wickramasinghe 2004). Consequently, references to the relevant sections of the Framework for
Gender Livelihoods Analysis in Disasters (and the People-oriented Planning network may also be
relevant (Anderson, Brazeau and Overholt 1992). Contributions can be seen as the ways in which
women (in particular) convert their capacities into individual and collective action to enhance disaster
risk reduction, and management efforts.


Consequently, women‟s (and men‟s) capacities and contributions in DRR and CCA are considered as
a key measure of gender equity and equality. Thus the review focuses on gender-inclusive and
sensitive DRR / DM efforts (overall policy / programme) as well as women-specific and gender
contributions to DRR and CCA (participation and inputs). At the same time, it examines capacity
development promoted through DRR policies / DM programmes at various levels and the capacities /
contributions made by individual and collective women outside formal interventions.

1.3.3 The Hyogo Framework for Action

The five priorities for action of the Hyogo Framework have also been kept in mind when analysing
the data generated for the study. These are:

        1. Ensuring that disaster risk reduction is a national and a local priority with a strong
           institutional basis for implementation.
        2. Identifying, assessing and monitoring disaster risks and enhancing early warning.
        3. Using knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at
           all levels
        4. Reducing the underlying risk factors.
        5. Strengthening disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels.
                                                    (Hyogo Framework for Action: 2005).

What is of more significance to the review is one of the general considerations of the Hyogo
Framework, that a gender perspective should be integrated into all disaster risk management policies,
plans and decision-making processes, including those related to risk assessment, early warning,
information management, and education and training (Hyogo Framework for Action: 2005). Cultural
diversity, age, and vulnerable groups should also be taken into account when planning for disaster risk
reduction, as appropriate. At the same time, as per the HFA, an integrated, multi-hazard approach to

                                                                                                        13
disaster risk reduction that can be factored into policies, planning and programming related to
sustainable development, relief, rehabilitation, and recovery activities in post-disaster and post-
conflict situations in disaster-prone countries is advocated.

1.4 Limitations of the Review

As is the case with any research project the original design of the review was impacted by a number
of factors. Firstly, there were time constraints imposed on the review due to time, funding, resource,
and institutional mandates. Consequently, what were originally conceptualized as comprehensive
reports could only be rapid reviews of the status of gender and DRR / DM efforts in India and Sri
Lanka. Furthermore, the review report is based entirely on the two research studies commissioned by
Practical Action and conducted by Practical Action (Sri Lanka) and Knowledge Links and Swayam
Shikshan Prayog (India) when it comes to gender inputs into programmes and at community levels.
Consequently, there were no possibilities of triangulating data through other research sources and
methods. This has also resulted in a report which tends to lean more towards description than analysis.

The research design / methodology of a comparative review on DRR between India and Sri Lanka
also became problematic given the variations in the data collected as well as differing conceptual and
theoretical emphases. The conceptual approach of the Indian report was based on the theoretical
position that empowering organised groups of women as actors and change agents tends to transform
gender relations at the community level in a more gender equitable fashion. On the other hand, the Sri
Lankan study emphasized not only the capacity-building and participation of women within their
communities but it also interpreted gender to include both men and women. As a result, the Indian
study does not map out the perspectives of men, as this was not considered essential in achieving
gender equitable outcomes in DRR / DM. Therefore, there is an obvious asymmetry in the nature of
findings and the manner of their presentation. This stems primarily from the differences in varying
conceptual structures adhered to and the resultant research insights regarding the issue of gender
mainstreaming in DRR. This however, does not invalidate the findings as the aim of the research was
to highlight some of the probable gender-related issues and responses of women in DRR in the
selected countries.

Furthermore, one of the original objectives of the study, that of providing the baseline status on
gender and DRR for the region was compromised given the sparseness of overall gender awareness
encountered and the inadequate data for a baseline standard. This was due to two key reasons. One,
DRR concerns are still in the process of being articulated with some action on the ground by at-risk
communities themselves and the inspired civil society organisations that work with them, but there
has yet to be a substantive body of action by the governments at the national, state and local levels.
Two, there is hardly any disaggregated data available in sectors like economic development, health
and infrastructure, rendering the study of their gender dimensions inherently problematic. As the
national policies relating to gender and DRR /CCA are either non-existent or still in a draft format,
national-level programmes on the issue have yet to be formulated / implemented. This is despite the
major disasters of the last fifteen years in India and the mostly recurring disasters in Sri Lanka. This
review therefore gives snapshots of the ways in which gender issues are being articulated and
activated within DRR and CCA policy and programme / projects and communities in India and in Sri
Lanka.

As the research methods used in the research were qualitative, the data presents an indicative picture
of how issues of gender are internalized or addressed. It describes / discusses the significance of
certain perceptions or actions at ground level for the purpose of drawing policy insights. However it is
not representative of the situation at the country, or the state / district or other levels or of all women

                                                                                                        14
(for this greater quantitative information capturing a representative sample would be necessary as this
would have allowed deeper analysis on the vulnerabilities and capacities among different social
groups, households, and locations).

In writing up the review it was not always possible to cleanly categorise gender and women‟s issues
into disaster policies / structures / preparedness / mobilization and capacity-building even though this
is how the review is structured. This was due to the cross-cutting features and intersections of some of
these sections. Consequently, there is an element of repetition in the review.

At the ground level, the project teams were not in a position to be aware of power dynamics or
undercurrents in village discussions (if any), or whether facts and perceptions were omitted or
overstressed. There was no way of determining whether the most vulnerable individuals in the
community were included in the discussions. In fact, in some Sri Lankan FGDs, participation was not
adequate, timing was limited, and details restricted. Even though a wide representation of
stakeholders was sought, it was not always possible to capture a good cross cut. Therefore views
expressed do not fully capture the whole range of roles and responsibilities and the types of activities
that are taking place or how gender is addressed. Furthermore, in India, the differing socio-cultural
characteristics of those interviewed and the project team could have contributed to discrepancies in
perceptions.




                                                                                                     15
2.0 Government Policy and Institutional Context
2.1 Policy Contexts

The following section will examine the legislative / policy documents of the governments of India and
                                                                                      5
Sri Lanka. Both countries enacted their respective Disaster Management (DM) Acts in 2005 – the
same year as the Kobe Conference, where 175 countries endorsed the Hyogo Framework for Action
(HFA) including the governments of India and Sri Lanka. In the Sri Lankan case, the Act can be
linked directly to the disaster of the Asian tsunami in December 2004 that claimed 32, 229 lives and
caused widespread destruction. A Parliamentary Select Committee on Natural Disasters (a bipartisan
committee) was constituted to deliberate and provide direction to legislation and policy on the issue
based on the Hyogo Framework for Action. As noted earlier, one of the priorities for action in the
Hyogo Framework is to ensure that disaster risk reduction is a national and a local priority with a
strong institutional basis for its implementation. Thus the Sri Lanka Disaster Management Act No. 13
was enacted in May 2005 to provide the legal basis for disaster risk management in the country. The
Act does not make any reference to gender or women‟s concerns in disaster risk management. In
contrast, in India, the preparation of the DM Act and its approval by the national Parliament was
already underway for some time. The Indian National Disaster Management Act provides the legal
and institutional framework for disaster management in the country. Its vision stated by the National
Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) refers to women as a marginalised group.

Both Acts aim to build safer and disaster resilient communities by developing a holistic, proactive,
multi-disaster (and in the case of India, technology driven and community-focussed) strategy for DM
that will be achieved through a culture of mitigation and preparedness so as to decrease the impact of
disasters on people. The DM strategies are to be provided momentum and sustenance through the
collective efforts of all government agencies supported by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
As per the Hyogo Framework, both the Acts provide for:

           The creation of a policy, legal and institutional framework, backed by statutory and financial
            support and
           The mainstreaming of multi-sectoral DM concerns into the developmental process and
            mitigation measures through projects.

The Indian Act also aims for a continuous and integrated process of planning, organizing,
coordinating and implementing policies and plans in a holistic, community-based, participatory,
inclusive and sustainable manner.

The Indian Act acknowledges that communities are always the first responders to disasters.
„Community participation ensures local ownership, addresses local needs, and promotes volunteerism
and mutual help to prevent and minimise damage. Therefore, states should make all efforts to assist
communities in understanding their vulnerabilities and the lead role that they can play in managing
risks with less dependence on external entities, through robust campaigns. Also arrangements for
community based disaster preparedness should form the basis for preparation of plans‟ (National
Disaster Management Act). Consequently, the role of the following actors is envisaged as part of the
coordination and monitoring mechanism in the Indian Act:

           Elders, senior citizens and locally respected leaders.
           NGOs, Self Help Groups and other Community Based Organizations (CBOs).

5
    The Acts are titled National Disaster Management Act in India and Sri Lanka Disaster Management Act.

                                                                                                           16
        Women as active participants in DM including risk reduction, management, preparedness and
         awareness generation.
        Urban and rural local bodies and ward level meetings and gram sabhas or village assemblies.

The bottom-up planning processes outlined in the Indian community-level plan preparation process
aims to strengthen the communities, elected local bodies and the state administration‟s response and
preparedness. Furthermore, they are to be prepared through a participatory approach which is holistic,
inclusive, sustainable, and environment-friendly; and which involves the identification of
vulnerabilities and risks. This means that they should be particularly sensitive to the special need of
vulnerable sections such as pregnant and lactating mothers, children, the elderly, and physically and
mentally challenged persons. It also entails that the concerns of women are addressed. The same
document in its section on coordination and monitoring mechanisms also mentions the role of women
as active participants in DM including risk reduction, mitigation, preparedness and awareness
generation. Thus while the former refers to women in their reproductive roles as mothers and as
vulnerable, the latter talks about them in more productive / public roles as social actors and disaster
managers. In the long run, what is required is that policies account for the multiple gender roles and
responsibilities of women (as well as men).

Towards a Safer Sri Lanka - a Road Map for Disaster Risk Management (Volume I & II) is the
guiding policy document developed by the Disaster Management Centre of the Sri Lankan Ministry of
Disaster Management and Human Rights by December 2005. Based on the Hyogo Framework for
Action 2005 – 2015, Volume I was developed primarily in recognition of the need to unify and
coordinate the numerous efforts of reconstruction by the government, non-governmental organizations
and international agencies in introducing systems of risk management, reduction as well as
reconstruction particularly during the post-tsunami period. Thus the Road Map proposes a 10 year
framework / holistic strategy aimed at building a safer Sri Lanka. However, Volume I does not
convey any awareness of the significance of gender at the policy level; for instance, in hazard
vulnerability and risk assessments or in disaster preparedness planning, or in particularly targeting
                                                                                   6
women especially in community-based DRM and in public awareness-raising efforts .

In the Sri Lankan and Indian DRR / DM budgets there are no separate budget allocations for women.
The Indian national government‟s major budgetary allocation in the sector is still in relief mode vis-à-
vis disaster management. Women are assumed to be included in such broader categories of activities
as training, consciousness-raising and capacity building and the actual budget allocation is left to the
discretion of programme and project managers as the case may be. Based on a review of the budgets
related to disaster management at the national and state (Gujarat and Tamil Nadu) levels in India and
interviews with the concerned authorities, particularly in National Institute of Disaster Management
(NIDM) and Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA), where the only gender related
activity undertaken is some gender training. For instance, training has been executed in Gujarat with
the expectation that response and reconstruction would be implemented in a gender sensitive manner
as a result of these training interventions.

In India, the National Action Plan on Climate Change issued by the Prime Minister‟s Council on
Climate Change, which seeks to integrate DRR concerns into climate change adaptation initiatives,
has references to women and recognises that climate change has different effects on women and men,
but falls short in the assessment of the differing effects of climate change and lacks a clearly
articulated focus on the exact role of women in plan implementation. The Sri Lankan Initial National

6
  However, children and gradates are mentioned as possible beneficiaries of educational programmes at school and
postgraduate levels.

                                                                                                                   17
Communication under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is
silent on gender issues vis-à-vis climate change. The Sri Lanka Strategy for Sustainable Development
seeks to achieve “sustained economic growth that is socially equitable and ecologically sound, with
peace and stability” through five goals which is the eradication of poverty, ensuring competitiveness
of the economy, improving social development, ensuring good governance, and a clean and healthy
environment. The strategy has identified empowering women through gender balanced development
as one of the objectives for improving social development, but has failed to identify the gender as a
cross cutting theme in other goals7.

2.1.1 Gender Inputs in Disaster Risk Reduction Policies

The HFA promotes that a gender perspective should be integrated into all disaster risk management
policies, plans and decision-making processes, including those related to risk assessment, early
warning, information management, and education and training.

However, when and where policy makers have attempted to include gender interests in DRR / DM,
dominant policy perceptions in India and in Sri Lanka frame the issue primarily as an issue related to
women as a marginalised or/and vulnerable group. In Sri Lanka, the national disaster management
plan and the national emergency response plan for the country as well as the national disaster
management policy envisioned by Towards a Safer Sri Lanka - a Road Map for Disaster Risk
Management have yet to be formulated. Volume II of the Road Map (developed in 2006) centres on
prioritized projects and activities for comprehensive disaster risk management by various mitigating
agencies and associated stakeholders. The Road Map touches on the importance of women in the
following broad areas of disaster risk reduction and management. It identifies Sri Lankan migrant
workers (a significant number of them being women workers) as a specifically vulnerable category
(more prone to personal calamities), particularly in relation to their human rights in their countries of
employment and the franchise with regard to their own country.

Ethnic, gender and youth representation in accessing public opinion on the issue of reconciliation in
the country, particularly in regard to popular understanding vis-a-vis reconciliation, and structured
processes and mechanisms of reconciliation, as well as the assessment of related issues such as
justice, prosecution, amnesties, reparation and compensation. There is no mention of women
participating in peace and reconciliation processes even though there were special mechanisms for
gender issues in place during the 2002 - 2004 peace process in the country.

The Sri Lankan Road Map discusses the strengthening of women‟s rights based on the understanding
that it is a crosscutting issue that impacts on governance, human rights and peace in the country. The
                                                      8
Road Map acknowledges that the Women‟s Charter of the country requires legal backing in order to
encourage the greater participation of women in electoral politics and key democratic institutions.
Looking inward, the Road Map also refers to the importance of gaining the opinions of the women
affected by the tsunami and conflict areas in the implantation mechanisms of the Ministry of Disaster
Management and Human Rights as well as the need to protect the human rights of migrant workers.
Yet when it comes to strategies on good governance within the Ministry gender has not been included
as a crosscutting issue; rather governance is seen fundamentally as a political issue. Nonetheless, the
Road Map does make special mention of the need to involve women‟s participation in Citizen‟s
Committees at local level and also of strengthening human rights including the most vulnerable


7
  Sri Lanka Strategy for Sustainable Development, retrieved from
http://www.un.org/esa/agenda21/natlinfo/countr/slanka/nsds.pdf
8
  The national policy on women that was developed after Sri Lanka ratified the UNCEDAW in 1980.

                                                                                                      18
(defined as children, women, the handicapped and conflict-affected) especially vis-à-vis tsunami
recovery.

One of the key criticisms of the Road Map from a gender perspective is that, despite its stated multi-
disciplinary and multi-sectoral approach and commitment to gender concerns, it does not
conceptualize hazard, vulnerability and risk assessment from socio-cultural, political, economic or
gender lenses. Rather, it does so from a purely technical standpoint. While it advocates the necessity
to build the capacities of Local Authorities in emergency responses and communities in the different
components of DRR it does not explore adequately the differing capacities, roles and responses of
women and men in community interventions and grassroots collaborations. Furthermore, there is no
reference to gender representation (equal or otherwise) in constituting the structures and mechanisms
of DRR (such as Emergency Operation Centres and National Rapid Response Teams).

In India, all mega disasters starting with the Latur earthquake (1993), Orissa super cyclone (1999),
Bhuj earthquake (2001), and Asian Tsunami (2004) were turning points in the evolving policy and
programme scenario. However, as was the case in Sri Lanka especially after the tsunami, post-disaster
relief, recovery and reconstruction initiatives have been extensively funded by the multilaterals, the
UN systems and the Government. As a result, they have led to change in State level policies on DM
and to the formation of DM authorities (in Gujarat and Orissa) with substantial powers and resources
aimed at recovery and rehabilitation of the affected people, and funded by a large number of external
donors. These projects have been of varying duration with limited mandate of engaging mainly in
relief and recovery activities and have had a component of DRR as part of the follow up. These
projects also entail the mobilisation of a number of civil society organisations - mainly NGOs, who
work with communities of affected people for a certain period. The two large-scale post-disaster
recovery projects, the Orissa State Disaster Management Policy and Gujarat State Disaster
Management Policy both refer to women as a vulnerable / disadvantaged group. The conceptual
standpoint of the Orissa state policy is found in its „capacity building‟ section, which states that
attempts will be made to minimise the vulnerability of disadvantaged groups like women, children,
elders, physically and mentally challenged and other marginalised groups. Another stated principles in
the Orissa policy is to „emphasise participation of women in all stages of disaster management and
recognise their special problems in disaster situation‟ (Orissa State Disaster Management Policy).
Similarly, the Gujarat policy states its objective, „to address gender issues in disaster management
with special thrust on empowerment of women towards long term disaster mitigation‟ (Gujarat State
Disaster Management Policy). Furthermore, the Gujarat state policy in its „capacity building‟ section
acknowledges that effective disaster management requires that vulnerable groups like women,
landless labour etc be fully aware of the extent of their vulnerability to disasters so as to reduce its
impact, prior to the occurrence of disasters. However, there are no guidelines as to how women could
undertake gender analysis of risk and to build on their own risk reduction strategies. However, while
the Orissa policy only recognizes the special problems of women in disaster situations, the Gujarat
policy goes a step further acknowledges the need to empower women through a livelihoods-based
economic empowerment strategy.

Thus, in general, policy references to women in the context of DRR at state levels (both in Sri Lanka
and in India) only convey recognition of the need to engage women in ways that reduces their
vulnerability and by implication the related disaster risk. Women‟s particular strengths, skills and
capacities as well as their contributions to DRR have not been taken into consideration in policy-
making or strategizing. Though the Indian Parliament has reportedly approved the National Disaster
Management Policy of India recently, it has yet to enter the public domain. Though there has been no
known civil society consultation on this policy in the course of its formulation, it is reasonable to


                                                                                                     19
expect that the policy will address issues of women‟s empowerment and gender mainstreaming for the
purpose of building the resilience of the country and the communities to natural disasters.

Similarly, in Sri Lanka there is a general lack of awareness on gender-related issues in disaster policy
among the district level officials (especially those implementing the Sri Lankan village disaster
management committees - VDMCs). Among the NGOs and the communities themselves there is even
less awareness. In fact, they do not even identify themselves as stakeholders in international or
national policies on DRR but are either following prescriptive circulars / TORs or actively engaged in
local level situations.

2.2 Governmental Institutions and Mechanisms of DRR

The following sections will consider the institutions and mechanisms for disaster management
established by the governments of India and Sri Lanka - arising from the Hyogo understanding of
disaster risk reduction as a national and a local priority with the need for a strong institutional basis
for implementation.

The Sri Lankan DM Act‟s main focus is on the establishment of a National Council for Disaster
Management (NCDM) that was established to take the lead in DM matters is a high-level body
chaired by the President, with the participation of the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition,
Ministers of relevant subjects and Chief Ministers of the Provincial Councils show a top-down
approach. In practice though, the Sri Lankan NCDM meetings do not comprise of all its high-powered
members; nor does the list of 20 relevant ministries in the Act include the Ministry of Women‟s
Affairs. Even though the Ministry of Social Reconstruction is mentioned and though currently the
Women‟s Ministry is linked to the Ministry of Social Reconstruction, this is a serious lapse in view of
the tendency of different political regimes to combine the Women‟s Ministry with different ministries
at different times. Furthermore, women‟s representation in the NCDM is completely dependent on the
public office that they hold. The Cabinet Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights was
established in terms of the gazette notification issued on 20th of February 2006 with the mandate to
take „the lead role in directing the strategic planning process for disaster response, risk mitigation,
                                                          9
preparedness planning and risk reduction‟ (MDMHR) . Furthermore, as per the Act, a Disaster
Management Centre attached to the Ministry was instituted as the lead agency for disaster risk
management in the country.

Currently, District Disaster Management Coordination Units (DDMCUs) have been setup in all 25
districts of Sri Lanka. Initially, coastal districts have been prioritized by the Disaster Management
Centre of Sri Lanka on the basis of frequency and intensity in disasters. The District Coordinators and
staff for the DDMCU offices have been primarily recruited from the armed services to support the
District Secretaries during emergencies. They are expected to improve the coordination among
different line agencies to ensure effective disaster risk reduction in the district. Thus there may be
differing ideologies, approaches and priorities to DRR amongst those involved in implementation –
especially if they have not been exposed to gender training.

When it comes to implementation, the existing government administrative structure is used to plan
and operationalise disaster-related activities – no matter the scale or type of disaster. While this
assures stability and a degree of efficacy, it may not necessarily be conducive to new approaches to
DRR such as gender mainstreaming unless special efforts are made. The structure / process flows
from the district level to the Grama Niladhari level, the smallest local administrative unit. It also

9
    MDMHR website, retrieved from http://www.dmhr.gov.lk/english/information.php?s=2

                                                                                                      20
liaises with other relevant government services, such as the police, health services, water and
electricity boards as needed – depending on the disaster, the stage of planning or implementation and
the types of activities required. It also draws on non-government structures (NGOs, charities, etc.) to
assist in some activities (especially in relief assistance and livelihood support). The community is
                                                                        10       11     12
brought in for village-level activities and interact mainly with the GN , SDO , PHI and at NGO
levels. What is presented below is the disaster risk management structure of Sri Lanka.

Diagram 1: Disaster Risk Management Structure / Process in Sri Lanka




Within the Sri Lankan government structure, planning and implementation takes place at several
segregated levels – national, district, divisional and village level, as well as through the provincial
political structures. At each of these levels participation in planning and implementation is based on
           13    14      15                          16       17
rank (GA , DS , IGP ) and job positions (MOH , CDO , PHI etc). Therefore the involvement of
a bulk of the stakeholders – other than those directly working for and appointed by the Disaster
Management Centre – were not specific to disaster or gender. As DM is based on the already existing
structure, it was noted that there were larger numbers of men situated in higher level positions while
at a lower level there were more women (again due to the type of job involved such as CDOs and
family health workers).

On the other hand, NGOs in Sri Lanka also play a central role in the provision of services and
structure for preparedness, relief or long-term support, depending on their mandates and capacities.
However, their involvement in planning processes is minimal at the ground level as here the
dominance of the state structure does not offer many avenues for NGO participation in the planning.
They are brought into the implementation process according to their existing roles and responsibilities
which have been pre-defined to a large extent by their own organizational mandates. If these mandates
encompassed gender and women‟s issues then there was a high probability that they would also be
10
   Grama Niladhari
11
   Samurdhi Development Officer
12
   Public Health Inspector
13
   Government Agent
14
   Divisional Secretary/Secretariat
15
   Inspector General of Police
16
   Medical Officer of Health
17
   Community Development Officer

                                                                                                    21
integrated in DRR, DM and development interventions of these organizations. At the national level
there is a participatory stakeholder consultative process that is aligned to the HFA when
guidelines/structures are made, however gender considerations that are part of the HFA are yet to be
fully taken on board.

Table 1 - Men and Women’s Participation in Disaster Planning and Implementation -
Government perspectives - Sri Lanka
     Nature of                              Planning                                Implementation
      service
                        Paid service %          Voluntary service %        Paid service %   Voluntary service %

                       Women         Men         Women               Men   Women     Men    Women       Men
AMPARA
District level            25           75            -                -      40       60
PS level                  60           40

Akaraipattu               10           90         Data               10
                                                collection
                                                  90%
Karathivi                 60           40                                   90 18     10
GN level                                            50               50                        60        40


Community level - Ground level

In planning, at GN level women‟s contribution is high but at higher levels it is less. Planning is mainly
done by men. Therefore women‟s experiences will not be reflected in the plans (looking after
children).

BATTICALOA

District level            25           75            -                -      20       80
PS level                  40           60                                    45       55

GN level                  55           45           75               25      55       45       75        25
(double set of
figures
indicates the
range)
Community level/Ground level

Voluntary services between women and males are split such that men generally take over heavy work
(where physical strength is needed) whereas women take over lighter work such as making tea,
uprooting grass etc…

This split is reflected in planning as well.

At the village level there are the relief sisters19 discuss family problems/ abuses women go through


18
     This 90:10 may not be the case, but this is what the GOs said

                                                                                                              22
from men with victims and take actions against these up to the courts.




19
     Relief Sisters are appointed by the state to work with communities on issues facing them

                                                                                                23
 HAMBANTOTA – Here the information is split by sector

 District level
 Infrastructure      50       50          30           70         35         65         35          65
 Health              40       60                                  40         60
 Divisional
 Infrastructure      50       50          35           65         30         70         40          60
 Health              30       70                                  30         70         85          15
 GN level
 Infrastructure      35       65          60           40         35         65         60          40
 Health              40       60                                  40         60         95           5
 Community
 level
 Infrastructure      60       40          75           25         60         40         75          25
 Health                                                                                 60          40
 KEGALLE

 District level
 Infrastructure      25       75           -           -          60         40          -           -
 Health              25       75                                  25         75
 Livelihoods         60       40          50           50         40         60         50          50
 Divisional
 Infrastructure      55       45          30           70         45         55         40          60
 Health              50       50          25           75         85         75         60          40
 Livelihoods         65       35          50           50         30         70         40          60
 GN level
 Infrastructure      40       60          45           55         40         60         65          35
 Health              50       50          75           25         50         50         75          25
 Livelihoods         30       70          65           35         30         70         70          30
 Community
 level
 Infrastructure      30       70          55           45         30         70         70          30
 Health              75       25          80           20         60         40         60          40
 Livelihoods          -        -          50           50          -          -         80          20


As the table shows, there were more men in decision-making roles. This also showed inequality in
terms of job opportunities. However, there were exceptions.

       In the case of Kegalle however, there was high representation of women in decision-making
        positions, including the GA who is female as well as women in several other key posts. It was
        noted in both Kegalle and Hambantota, that where there are women in higher positions, the
        participation of women in planning is also higher, although this participation also reflected
        some sector based differences.
       In Ampara it was stated that those that were older/more experienced (men) tended to guide
        the process while those who are younger got involved in the actual implementation. This
        implies that there is a possibility that such issues as age can also have a role to play in who is
        involved in what. Furthermore, given that men were occupied with regular work during the
        day, the village level committees had more female representation.



                                                                                                         24
           There was also a perception in Ampara that the government shouldered the main
            responsibilities during and after a disaster; and that the affected-community did not want to be
            involved in the DM process but only wanted to benefit. Of course, this can limit the efforts
            made to engage communities – men or women.
           In Ampara, the percentage of women in planning aspects through data collection is high even
            though voluntary. However, here too, data collection is a supportive role in planning, not
            really planning per se.

           In Hambantota and Kegalle, the table shows that even at the district and divisional level there
            is voluntary participation by men and women. On closer questioning this appeared to be due
            to the participation of NGO persons in district or divisional level planning meetings.

The participation of men and women also differs according to whether they are involved in paid or
volunteer work, conveying that the roles assigned to or undertaken by women are not on equal terms
with men. There is a higher participation of women in voluntary work (which is of lesser recognition
and has less space for decision making), while men are more involved in paid positions. This was very
obvious in Ampara and Batticaloa. This is typical and in line with their supportive roles.

In implementation women participation is high, compared to planning, because most of the time
implementation is at a lower level, with less decision making capacity, and carries lesser pay in
comparison to the decision makers or is voluntary.

Kegalle, with a very varied population and sample shows variances in participation different to other
districts. Cultural (Sinhala, Muslim, plantation workers often Tamil), geographic, demographic
diversity had a role to play in their levels of participation. e.g. In the higher social class, there were
restrictions on women‟s mobility and selection criteria for VDMC tended towards male preferences.
Further, the disaster type was very different to the other coastal districts, and therefore the emphasis
on mechanisms was different.

At face value, the structure / process of DM does not discriminate between men and women as
prominence is not given to either group. Neither are they gender-sensitive - given the gender
configurations of Sri Lankan society where women are usually concentrated at lower, less
authoritative and often voluntary positions in such structures (especially at the lowest administration
and community levels). This is consistent with the general hierarchical patterns within the country that
does not provide an enabling environment to allow women to reach some of the higher positions. As a
result, disaster planning may not be able to build on the existing knowledge and practices of village
women, especially in dealing with food security and disaster preparedness at community and family
level.

In comparison, the two key institutions set up under the Indian National Disaster Management Act at
the national level include the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and National
Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM)20. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)
is a creation of this Act, which is mandated to be the agency for the preparation of national policies,
guidelines and plans of action for disaster management in the country. The Authority is headed by the
Prime Minister of India and has one Vice Chairman and eight other members. As a part of the
mandate given by the National DM Act, it is obligatory for all of the constituent Indian states to have
their own State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) headed by the respective chief ministers.
The states are currently in the process of setting up the SDMAs. At the district level, there has to be a

20
     Both are located in Delhi, the capital city.

                                                                                                         25
District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) headed by the Chairperson of the Zilla Parishad,
District Council - the elected body for local governance at the district level. Though the Act itself
does not specifically provide for the inclusion of women as members either in NDMA, SDMAs or
DDMAs, NDMA has one woman member.

The NIDM came into existence as an independent institute under the administrative control of the
Indian Ministry of Home Affairs in October, 2003. After the enactment of the Disaster Management
Act, 2005, NIDM has been notified as a statutory body under the Act with effect from October 30,
2006. The Union Home Minister is the President of the Institute. The major mandate of NIDM is
capacity development for effective disaster management in the country.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) is the nodal ministry for all disaster management related
functions at the national level. The Central Relief Commissioner (CRC) in MoHA is the nodal officer
for coordinating all relief operations related to natural disasters. National Crisis Management
Committee (NCMC), headed by the Cabinet Secretary, is the high powered body for providing
direction to all concerned ministries in crisis situation. NCMC comprises the secretaries of all the
concerned ministries and departments. Crisis Management Group (CMG), headed by the Central
Relief Commissioner (CRC), is the key executive body at the national level to deal with crisis
situations and comprises the nodal officers from all the concerned ministries and departments. The
CMG‟s main functions are to: review the contingency plans of ministries and departments and
coordinate with state governments to review their disaster preparedness activities.

The Government of India and UNDP joint Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Programme is currently
implemented in 169 districts across 17 states of the country. It has a stated focus on gender equity.
Following the mid-term evaluation of the programme in 2006, there was an enhanced emphasis on a
gender sensitive approach in the implementation and so also in the monitoring of women‟s
participation at several levels.




                                                                                                  26
                                                                      21
Diagram 2: Disaster Risk Management Structure / Process in India




Village development committees oversee the planning, implementation and monitoring of village
level development activities, DRR work. And in the time of a disaster, the VDCs would link the
community with service providers and the government, Panchayat leaders, self-help and health group
members, school teachers, village health nurses, etc.

The Indian report study found that Disaster Management Teams (DMTs) formed by the DRM GoI /
UNDP programme were already present in many villages. However, women interviewees for the
study emphasized the importance of having a well-trained, functional and active task force in every
hazard prone village. These task forces were composed of both male and female community members
and need be trained periodically and supported by the government to ensure sustainability. They were



21
     Retrieved from http://ndma.gov.in/ndma/dmstructure.htm

                                                                                                 27
also seen to address the needs of neighbouring villages in times of disasters, not only those of their
own community.

At the level of these institutions (in India), addressing gender issues is mainly one of including as
many women as members, wherever possible. However, this seems more of an afterthought -
determined by the discretion of the people concerned rather than a systemic provision to ensure
gender equity in the composition of the institutional membership of the agencies established for
disaster management in the India (the study is unable to give a perspective as to whether any members
of these institutions have been exposed to gender training). As a result, there are no mandatory
provisions to include women as members either in NDMA or SDMAs. The same applies to other
institutional actors such as the Ministry of Home Affairs and NIDM. However, NIDM has a number
of women faculty members, which is a welcome step in terms of maintaining some kind of a gender
balance in the faculty composition. Interactions with some of the key personnel and office bearers in
NDMA and NIDM revealed that there is an awareness and appreciation of the role of women as
critical actors in disaster management. However, no attempts have been made to formulate specific
policies of gender mainstreaming by these two apex national level bodies responsible for related
advisory and capacity development functions in the country.

In Sri Lanka, there is less involvement of women is disaster planning and decision-making, mainly
due to the fact that existing structures are used for DRR. Though these may not be purposively
structured to discriminate against women, other factors such as accepted social / gender roles and
cultural values tend to marginalize women from decision-making positions.

Women are usually identified as the main stakeholders and first responders in many disaster
situations. However, their potential in decision-making is rarely respected or acknowledged by the
authorities. The marginalization of women from governance structures and their lack of representation
vis-à-vis government on a range of community issues pose a significant threat to effective DRR in
both countries. Thus, on the whole, governmental institutions of DM in both countries do not make
any special provision to ensure the participation of women or the representation of their perspectives
and interests in its structures. Furthermore, there has yet to be a clearly articulated strategy and
corresponding institutional mechanisms to ensure the mainstreaming of gender concerns into the DM
work being carried out in Sri Lanka and India. Even when gender concerns were articulated in the
policy and programming (in comparison to major disaster interventions in the Gujarat earthquake and
the tsunami), they have been defeated due to the gender biases of officials and functionaries.
Moreover, even though NGOs and government efforts have focused on livelihood generation that led
to a degree of economic empowerment of Indian women on a large scale, there is still a need to
include women and communities in the planning designs and use of infrastructure investments.




                                                                                                   28
Table 2 : Policies / Strategies / Structures of Disaster Management and Climate Change
Adaptation in India and Sri Lanka

  Disaster Risk                       India                              Sri Lanka
   Reduction
International     Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA)             Hyogo Framework for Action
Standards related                                              (HFA)
                  United Nations Framework Convention on
to DRR / gender
                  Climate Change                               United Nations Framework
equity & equality
                                                               Convention on Climate Change
                  Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
                                                               Millennium Development Goals
                                                               (MDGs)
                                                               UNCEDAW

National Policies / National Disaster Management Act (2005)    Sri Lanka Disaster Management
Strategies                                                     Act (2005)
                    National Programme for Capacity Building
                    of Engineers for Earthquake Risk           Towards a Safer Sri Lanka - a
                    Management                                 Road Map for Disaster Risk
                                                               Management (Volume I & II)
                    National Programme for Capacity Building
                    of Architects for Earthquake Risk The           national     sustainable
                    Management                               development strategy (2002)
                    Government of India (GoI)-UNDP National
                    Disaster   Risk   Management    (DRM)
                    Programme (2002-2007)-currently in an
                    extended wrap-up phase.
                    National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project
                    (NCRMP) with the World Bank assistance
                    (2004-2010)
                    National Earthquake Risk Mitigation
                    Project (NERMP) with the World Bank
                    assistance
                    GoI-UNDP Urban Earthquake Vulnerability
                    Reduction Project (2002-2007)
                    National Community Disaster Resilience
                    Fund (CDRF) Pilot, National Alliance for
                    Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction
                    (NAADRR), India
                    National Action Plan on Climate Change
                    (NAPCC)

National            Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) National        The National Council for
Structures /        Calamity Contingency Fund (NCCF)           Disaster Management
Mechanisms
                    National Disaster Management Authority     Disaster Management Centre
                    (NDMA)
                                                               National Disaster Management


                                                                                              29
                          National Institute of Disaster Management                Coordination Committee
                                                                                   Climate Change Secretariat
                                                                                   Centre for Climate Change
                                                                                   Studies
Area Policies
                          State Disaster Management Policies such as               District-level government
                          in Gujarat and Orissa                                    circulars, guidelines and
                                                                                   directives implemented by the
                                                                                   GA / DS22
Area Strategies
                          Community Disaster Resilience Fund                       District Disaster Management
                          (CDRF) initiatives at the community level                Plans (in some districts),
                          facilitated by local NGOs and supported by               Divisional Disaster
                          NAADRR, India                                            Preparedness Plans in few
                                                                                   districts, Village Disaster
                                                                                   Preparedness Plans (VDPP)
Area Structures
                          State Disaster Management Authorities                        Village Disaster
                                                                                        Management Committee
                          District Disaster Management Authorities
                                                                                        (VDMC) at village levels
                          (DDMAs)
                                                                                        (post-tsunami)
                                                                                       GA, DS, IGP (police) GN,
                                                                                        SDO, PHI, MOH, PHI,
                                                                                        CDO etc and village level
                                                                                        officials
                                                                                       NGOs established for other
                                                                                        purposes
                                                                                       Government organizations
                                                                                        established for other
                                                                                        purposes
                                                                                       Community groups
                                                                                        (Farmer/fishermen
                                                                                        societies, women‟s groups,
                                                                                        security committees, death
                                                                                        donation societies co-opted
                                                                                        for emergency / DRR work)




On the whole, development, DRR functions on three cross-cutting tiers - at the levels of government,
INGOs / NGOs and community-based organizations (CBOs). As far as the Indian case is concerned,
given the country‟s political history of strong governmental institutions much of the DRR / DM
structures have been government centred. SHGs that had already mobilized women were one existing


22
  The GA (Government Agent or District Secretary) dealt with district level issues while the DS (Divisional Secretary) dealt
with the issues at divisional level.

                                                                                                                         30
means by which women‟s participation in DRR has been instituted at grassroots. In contrast, in Sri
Lanka, existing government structures (with some modifications) were used for DRR / DM at local
levels while NGOs and CBOs who were already involved in some of the activities stressed in overall
DRR such as the provision of livelihood, healthcare and infrastructure development have also been
co-opted into the process. Effective gender mainstreaming in DRR thus becomes reliant on the
existing mandates of these organizations. For instance, if gender and women‟s issues were
encompassed in the mandate of an NGO, then women would be included in their DRR activities. One
outcome of this is the tendency to focus on women‟s participation in DRR as opposed to an
engagement with some of the prevalent gender issues at ground levels.




                                                                                               31
3.0 The Ground Situations in Disaster Risk Reduction
Having considered the extent to which issues of gender equity and equality have been integrated into
national and local policy priorities and institutions, this chapter will aim to portray the ground
situations vis-à-vis DRR in India and Sri Lanka. As per the Hyogo Framework for Action, this
includes considering gender issues and the status / roles of women in identifying, assessing and
monitoring disaster risks and enhancing early warning. It involves considering the significance of
gender issues / relations in the use of knowledge, innovation and education (including community and
women‟s gender-based knowledge) to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels. It further
involves the consideration of the status / roles of women and the significance of gender relations /
issues in reducing underlying risk factors and in strengthening disaster preparedness for effective
response at all levels. Thus, firstly, the review will examine the levels and aspects of disaster
preparedness and responses in the respective communities and by women in particular. Next, it will
discuss the development of women‟s capacities and skills specifically in the areas of livelihoods,
health and infrastructure.

3.1 Disaster Preparedness and Responses

This section explores some of the activities of disaster preparedness and responses carried out by
Governments and NGOs as well as those undertaken by communities on their own in Sri Lanka and
India. The two studies showed that the kinds of activities carried out in preparedness and as responses
(immediate and long term) were common or similar when it came to the same type of disaster but
differed when it came to different types of disasters (in the two countries as well as within districts in
the same country). They also referred to some of the perceived gender gaps and inequities relating to
women‟s roles, participation and capacity-building in these activities.

Risk Identification and Assessment
Women in both countries fully recognized the natural hazards in their villages that could easily
transform into dangerous situations of disaster. Hazard and vulnerability mapping exercises were one
way of identifying and preparing for disasters. Women‟s groups in Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu
(India) have begun assessing risks facing their communities through such mapping exercises. In
vulnerability assessments in Hambantota, Sri Lanka, it has been noted that there is a marked
difference in the identification of risks by men and women. While men identify flood risks of paddy
lands, the women were more concerned with home gardens, water and sanitation.

As the community‟s ability to undertake risk and vulnerability assessment is enhanced, community
members including women become aware of the nature and intensity of risk/s that they face and
articulate specific ways these can be addressed. Thus in the specific context of disasters, which is
intimately linked to development, women‟s involvement in hazard mapping and risk assessment is
found to be an empowering process both for them and their communities – as empowered women
provide a sound basis for the empowerment of their communities.

Establishing Community Early Warning Systems
The lack of early warning systems was identified as a significant source of risk by DM authorities and
communities in both countries. Women, in particular, are seen to participate extensively in
implementing community early warning systems. In certain Indian villages in the sample, women‟s
SHGs (self help groups or saving and credit collectives) were the first to volunteer to maintain early
warning systems to prevent future disasters. In Tamil Nadu, following the tsunami and floods, women
underlined the importance of a partnership with the government in establishing and maintaining early

                                                                                                       32
warning systems, as previous warning systems set up by NGOs were left unmaintained after NGOs
exited the area. Women from the communities were willing to take over the oversight and
maintenance of existing warning systems, given the help and support of government authorities. One
to two women in every village would be responsible for the maintenance of warning systems, to
ensure long term sustainability and reduce risk.

Similarly, in Kegalle (Sri Lanka), where the biggest disaster risks are landslides and floods, (as well
as in Hambantota) there was a concentrated focus on preparedness by the community – watching
increases in water levels. Volunteers (while it is not clear from the study whether these are male of
female volunteers) ring bells in order to warn the communities of the impending threat of a possible
landslide among vulnerable communities living in or near landslide prone areas. Similarly, some of
the Jana Sabha (village development committees established by government) mainly headed by
women in the Tissamaharama sample were also active in implementing community early warning
systems for floods.

Communities were also seen to exploit traditional knowledge for disaster preparedness. In India, the
observation of the changes in the behaviour of wild animals (including snakes and birds), wave
formation, weather patterns and wind directions are seen as early warning signs of forthcoming
calamities by grassroots communities. Observing nature and the climate gives sufficient time to
undertake precautionary and preparedness measures when more advanced warning systems fail. In Sri
Lanka too, communities believe that wild animals such as the owl gives some hint of disaster. Both in
India and Sri Lanka, communities have raised concerns over changing climate and increased disaster
risk of their localities with special emphasis on difficulties in predicting natural calamities using their
own experiences.

Consequently, given the interest, initiative and key roles played by women in implementing
community early warning systems at community levels, it is imperative that they are officially
recognized in policy and action programmes. Furthermore, as key stakeholders and the first to
respond in disaster situations it is imperative that they are included in all levels of governance.

Community Disaster Risk Reduction and Action
As a result of past experiences and rising consciousness of the significance of disaster preparedness,
many communities in the research samples had put in place a number of short-term and long-term
disaster risk reduction measures.

In India, community run disaster task forces have emerged in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and
Gujarat as a pro-active and community driven strategy to ensure smooth response during and in the
post- disaster period. Many communities are left to their own devices for a period of days in the
immediate aftermath of a disaster, before government rescue and relief services reach the area. With
the creation of taskforces, community members need not wait for outside help to address village needs
when disaster strikes. Depending on the levels of preparedness, capacities, the impact of the disaster
etc., task force members were confident of attending to village needs and are recognized by
community members as experts in disaster resilience. Task forces were responsible for ensuring that
coordination of immediate rescue and relief operations was easier and effective and quick in reaching
those in need. Community run disaster task forces in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar as well as
other states in India have engaged in search, rescue, relief, first aid, and in running community
kitchens to provide food to the affected. They also addressed the needs of neighbouring villages, not
only those of their own community. For instance, the task force from Samiyarpettai village, Tamil
Nadu, was active in helping nearby villages during the floods which occurred in 2005, one year after
the tsunami.
                                                                                                        33
Task forces were present in some villages of the Indian sample; however, women emphasized the
importance of having a well trained, functional and active task force in every hazard prone village.
They were composed of both men and women from the communities. Except in Tamil Nadu, women
were generally found to be members of task teams responsible for shelter management, relief,
community kitchens and first aid, but teams responsible for search, rescue, resource mobilization etc
often had all male members. This was despite the possibility that women team members could be
more effective in instances when women need to be rescued in times of sudden disasters. Thus when
women were involved, they were expected to perform helping roles rather than planning and decision-
making roles. The grouping of women and men according to these DM activities reflect gender
stereotyping and reinforce traditional gender roles and responsibilities. However, in many villages in
Tamil Nadu women were found to be effective members of search, rescue and shelter management
sub-groups as well.

In Sri Lanka, in general, community disaster-preparedness activities concentrated on certain types of
disasters (tsunami / floods), and particularly in relation to the provision of immediate relief. There was
not much action on long-term disaster support, although some measures are in place. These included
preparedness in terms of immediate post-disaster relief needs (such as shelter, food, health and
sanitation facilities) which were available in varied extents in all the districts in Sri Lanka. Other post-
disaster responses included the setting up of village disaster management committees, evacuation
                                                                               23
measures, relief procedures, first-aid courses in the districts of Batticaloa and Hambantota. Practice
                                   24
drills were undertaken in Ampara and in Hambantotta. Certain activities such as mapping out routes,
preparing evacuation paths are generally decided by the formal structure of GNs and the village
committees (generally constituted of men). However in the case of Batticaloa, due to the high
prevalence of female-headed households, women carried out this task. Women are also designated to
assist with the evacuation of those with special needs despite the fact that such tasks are traditionally
carried out by men.

Women‟s preparedness activities in Sri Lanka included storing food for use during drought and
floods, growing yams, and keeping within easy reach packed valuables and essential documents (such
as national identity cards, birth certificates, deeds etc.) in the case of a hurried evacuation. Similarly in
India, women‟s groups have developed the idea of an emergency kit when they have early warning of
a disaster. They will prepare for calamity by stocking on foods, grain, seeds, fuel wood, diesel,
documents, plastic sheets, candles, match sticks and fodder. If warning comes sufficiently early and
there are daylight hours at disposal, women‟s groups remind all households and help poor families to
gather / carry stocks with them during evacuation. A family is able to take stocks for about six to
seven days at adequate notice of disaster. However, when disaster hits abruptly and in the night,
women evacuate immediately with their families and leave behind what they have stored. In these
instances, women in both studies were seen to be entrusted with the extension of their usual gender
role of carer / provider of food even in post-disaster situations. This also indicates that women have
internalized some aspects of disaster preparedness and also play an active role in disaster coping at
household levels.

The maintenance of kinship ties is also recognized as a disaster preparedness strategy in India, as
these are individuals from whom families can seek help when disaster strikes and institutional actors
are not present to aid those affected.



23
   An area also affected by the tsunami, activities is not as developed because of the long prevent conflict and just getting
established after the end of warfare.
24
   ibid

                                                                                                                                34
In disasters of certain types (such as droughts that are more prolonged), structured support was not
always forthcoming in Sri Lanka. Farmers keep a watch on water levels, while in the home women
and men were worried about drinking water though support for existing mechanisms was lacking. For
other types of crisis such as elephant attacks, which were reported by all tsunami-affected districts as
a type of disaster that was constantly present, there is little support from the government.
Furthermore, the current measures that are in place such as electric fences, fire crackers are not viable
solutions.

The issue with the elephant attacks was also bringing out a disaster situation that had increased the
sense of vulnerability for both men and women. The fear of elephant attacks was mentioned by groups
in Ampara, and Hambantota as ever present danger, and one with which solutions offered gave no
sustained relief. It has also restricted mobility – in terms of access to employment options as well as in
the case of sudden illness, getting to a hospital at night is difficult. On the other hand some disasters
such as seasonal floods, seemed to have been internalised, and accepted that it was going to take
place, the level of feeling vulnerable or helpless as in case of the elephant attack is not present in
disasters such as floods. .

The lack of long terms solutions was also felt in Sri Lanka. Communities have had to go back to high
risk areas – close to rivers, the coastal belt, landslide prone areas – after each disaster. Due to the
inability of the DM structure / process to provide alternatives, as well as the continuing lack of
choices for people (such as land, income opportunities, social networks) for certain parts of the
community.

On the whole, there are degrees of community disaster mitigation and preparedness (long and short-
term) in place in both research studies as a result of disaster cycles in the affected areas. While the
studies do not necessarily engage specifically with women‟s issues in community preparedness and
action, they nevertheless convey the crucial roles played by women in community task forces and in
domestic mitigation and preparedness (especially in the ways that women have internalized disaster
preparedness activities). Other issues affecting sample communities include those of inadequate or
inappropriate structural support from the authorities concerned. This is an issue that needs to be
urgently addressed, especially in terms of long-term mitigation as it impacts more on the poorer
segments of society that have fewer choices, less savings, less assets and are compelled to live in risky
situations.




Knowledge Management and Education
It is recognized that education, indigenous knowledge, specific DM and gender training will make a
considerable difference to communities‟ skills and capacities of minimizing risks and of responding
effectively to disasters.

Indian women (in the selected sample) have been trained in disaster safety and response including
mapping hazards and vulnerabilities as well as in forming task forces predominantly through the
disaster-preparedness efforts of NGOs. In contrast, many government initiatives of DM often reach
only those who have been elected to Panchayats; therefore lessons and benefits do not diffuse into the
larger community. Women‟s groups feel the government provides them with very little support or
information on DRR and that this role is mostly fulfilled by NGOs. In contrast, children receive
information on disaster safety in their schools through both NGO and government programmes.

                                                                                                       35
However, many actors involved in disaster relief and working with women‟s Self Help Groups
(SHGs) voice that grassroots women‟s networks in India have contributed considerably to the
knowledge base on disaster risk reduction. A prominent example is that of the Community Trainers
Network in Tamil Nadu, which has given a chance to community leaders and experts to learn from
one another, replicate good practices and gain knowledge on disaster prevention and mitigation.

In Sri Lanka too, there are also a variety of training programmes – on first aid, drip irrigation,
livelihoods skills etc. that also try to address short and long-term DRR needs. The participation
indicates that much of the livelihood and health based programmes were designed to target women.
This implies that there are assumptions about appropriate gender-based knowledge for women and
men. The Sri Lankan data does not indicate whether the livelihood programmes were formulated on
the basis of what were considered to be gender appropriate vocations. Except in some cases where
non traditional livelihoods were promoted for women, livelihood support programmes followed
gender stereotype patterns e.g. home gardening for women, but paddy & crop management for men;
sewing & food processing for women, masonry & carpentry for men. However, petty trade, livestock
& non specific livelihoods activities were made available for both men & women. It also appears that
the disaster management angle is missing from livelihood promotions – e.g. if communities are given
micro credit, there doesn‟t seem to be a plan for how they could cope in times of disaster in relation to
paying back; micro insurance etc.) Women were also included in awareness programmes and
information sharing activities that are done on a volunteer basis. Special programmes for schools have
also been initiated that increase the capacities of Sri Lankan children in the sample areas to be
prepared and to cope with disasters.

The Indian study discusses how women in the sample considered the identification of holders of
traditional knowledge as an important step in increasing resilience. Traditional indigenous community
knowledge in some cases is considered to be more effective in safeguarding communities from
disaster than technical knowledge from outside. Some of these as noted earlier include early warning
on the basis of changes in the behaviour of birds and animals in the context of droughts, earthquakes,
and cyclones and community-based standard operating procedures like moving cattle to highlands and
storing food, seeds and other essential items before floods in flood prone areas. In Sri Lanka too both
men and women use their previous experiences as well as warning signs of floods, droughts,
landslides as a means of preparation. Indigenous knowledge, especially of older men and women were
used in Kegalle, Sri Lanka to strengthen crop resistance to disasters as well as to increase food
security (flood resistant paddy varieties were used by men and the cultivation of local yam varieties
by women). Other methods include the scaring away of elephants by throwing chillie by women and
doing “manthra” or “kema” (black magic) by men. There was a felt need to orient trainers to be
aware of the indigenous traditional community knowledge along with other technical aspects of
disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation practices in order to work with communities.
This has a major gender implication as a majority of holders of traditional indigenous community
knowledge are women.

Given the possibility that in some instances traditional knowledge could be more effective in
safeguarding communities from disasters than technical knowledge of external consultants imparted
on communities, it is vital that these unofficial knowledge practices are integrated into DRR policy
and programme efforts. Furthermore, trainers should be made aware of the technical aspects of
disaster risk reduction so as to be able to raise awareness in their own communities. On the whole it is
important to ensure that knowledge and training programmes are not gender segregated according to
gender-based assumptions.



                                                                                                      36
Collaboration with Government


 “DRR activities must be done in collaboration with government programmes to ensure
 sustainability…We must strengthen this linkage between women‟s groups and the government.” -
 Women‟s federation leader from Tamil Nadu




Indian women‟s groups in the sample sought effective partnerships with the government in ensuring
resilient development. They sought awareness and access to government programmes that address
DRR priorities, support in the creation of safer spaces, maintenance of early warning infrastructure,
post-disaster village damage assessments, DRR education and enterprise development. Communities
required stronger government involvement, but also acknowledged that NGO facilitation may be
required to forge effective community -government partnerships.

The Indian study states that although there is support for SHGs and women‟s initiatives at the district
level in the form of loans and livelihoods initiatives and at the national level in the form of Nirmal
Gram Puraskar (the clean village awards), and other agricultural and sanitation support schemes, there
is little interaction and support at the Panchayat level. As noted earlier, even though Panchayat leaders
receive funds and training on disaster risk reduction, they were unwilling to pass resources and
knowledge onto community members. Women further feel that Panchayat leaders are not interested in
or committed to DRR. Consequently, women are rarely aware of mechanisms whereby they can make
their voices and concerns heard by the relevant authorities.

In Sri Lanka, the Jana Sabha government development committees mentioned earlier headed by the
GN in the Tissmaharama Divisional Secretariat divided a flood-affected community of 231 families
into 7 groups of which women were appointed as 6 group leaders. Most services to the internally
displaced persons (IDP) families were provided / directed through these group leaders. Not only did
this bring recognition to the work and roles played by women but it resulted in women providing
leadership to men as well. Due to this system there were no incidents of harassment reported while in
the camp. Wastage was minimised. Food and other items were distributed with the coordination of the
District Secretariat and the village community.

The Indian case conveys the importance of proactive measures to ensure that government DRR
policies and programmes reach grassroots communities. On the other hand, the Sri Lankan case
conveys the significance of proactive measures in acknowledging women‟s leadership in DRR / DM.

The following section describes in more detail the different types of disaster preparedness and
mitigation activities undertaken by men and women.




                                                                                                      37
Table 3 : Community Actions in Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation in Sri Lanka
                                   In the structure                                                                             On their own
          Men                        Women                        Collectively                          Men                         Women                       Collectively
                                                                                       Droughts
Promoting cultivation of     Loan facilities arranged   Rain water harvesting               Cultivating drought resistant   Use traditional methods    Cultivation of short term
optional /non traditional/   by banks for women         programmes conducted to             crop varieties and perennial    to conserve food           crops, drought resistant
alternative crops            (H‟tota)                   increase access to water            crops                           (H‟tota)                   varieties like Kurakkan
e.g. gherkin (Ampara,                                   (Ampara, Batticaloa, H‟tota)        (H‟tota)                                                   (Eleusine coracana). Cultivate
Hambantota)                                                                                                                 Self help groups for       optional crops (2 months
                                                        Reforestation programmes by          Maintenance of the rainwater   facing disasters – share   paddy) (Ampara, H‟tota)
Note: H‟tota is used for                                the Forest Department and           harvesting tanks (H‟tota)       money, goods, service
Hambantota in the table                                 NGO‟s (H‟tota)                                                      (H‟tota)                   Practice multi cropping
                                                                                                                                                       systems – (H‟tota)
                                                        Introduction of drought resistant                                   Using waste water to
                                                        crop varieties by Ambalantota                                       irrigate the plants        Using water wisely, agreeing
                                                        Rice Research Institute and                                         (H‟tota)                   on release times of water.
                                                        other research Institutions                                                                    (Batticaloa)
                                                        (H‟tota)                                                            Seeds are stored to use
                                                                                                                            during the dry season,     Collective initiatives to get
                                                                                                                            eg. maize (H‟tota)         water from the authorities
                                                                                                                                                       (H‟tota)

                                                                                                                                                       Dig temporary wells during
                                                                                                                                                       the drought season
                                                                                                                                                       (H‟tota)

                                                                                                                                                       Rehabilitating tanks & Runoff
                                                                                                                                                       water harvesting tanks
                                                                                                                                                       (H‟tota)




                                                                                   Elephant attacks




                                                                                                                                                                            38
Linking with service       Provision of Electric fencing      Forming of elephant chasing       Preparing meals and tea    Forming elephant watch
provision organizations    (H‟tota)                           groups (H‟tota)                   for villagers who          groups (Ampara)
(i.e Department of Wild                                                                         engage in chasing
Life Conservation and                                         Chase elephants.                  elephants. (H‟tota)        Influencing stakeholders for
other NGOs) for electric                                      When elephants approach                                      better infrastructure facilities
fencing, fire crackers,                                       (house or agriculture land) all   Lightening of firewood     (H‟tota)
advice etc (Ampara,                                           other neighbouring villagers      close to the house.
Batticaloa, Hambantota)                                       receive the message; then they    (H‟tota)                   Motivate community members
                                                              collectively go to the location                              to work for development -
                                                              to chase the elephants by                                    Protecting the forest resources
                                                              making noises and lightening                                 (H‟tota)
                                                              fire crackers. (H‟tota)

                                                              Always on the alert.
                                                              Staying awake in the night and
                                                              guarding their Chena (H‟tota)

                                                              Use traditional methods to
                                                              tackle elephant attacks
                                                              (H‟tota)

                                                              Maintenance of the elephant
                                                              fence. (H‟tota)
                                                           Floods
                           Assisting community to mitigate    Temporary drainage ditches        To be on alert and         Cut temporary drainage
                           flood risks by maintaining         are cut (H‟tota)                  move out if the wind       system to remove water
                           drainage paths (before the rainy                                     speed increases (H‟tota)   (H‟tota)
                           season) – with support from the    Canal dredging and bund
                           Agrarian services                  protection (H‟tota)               Women purchase extra       Animal feedstock /straw
                                                                                                amounts of food            collected (even when no signs
                           Provision of dry food etc. as      Drainage paths are cleared        (especially dry food)      of flooding – done with
                           relief by the Red Cross, DS,       through community agreement       for family consumption     harvesting), livestock is taken
                           Politicians and charities          and voluntary programmes          during flood periods.      to highlands (Ampara)
                           (Kegalle)                          (Ampara, Batticaloa, H‟tota,      (Kegalle)
                                                              Kegalle)                                                     Watching for water level rise
                           Compensating crop losses -                                           Women do not go to         (Kegalle, H‟tota)
                           lump sum to lost yields            When there is a heavy rain        work if the rain is too
                           (Kegalle)                          men decide not to go to work      high, they wait with       Harvest all possible produce

                                                                                                                                                39
                                       in case they need to transfer   children and elders        before it gets damaged from
                                       valuables to safer locations    watching the water         floods (Kegalle)
                                       (community hall) or low risk    level (Kegalle)
                                       villager‟s home (Kegalle)
                                    Tsunami
First Aid, Camp Management                                             Women in resettled         Identify evacuation routes and
and tsunami mock drills have                                           areas are alert on early   safer places (H‟tota)
been conducted by the DMC to                                           warnings. Women
improve skills. Tsunami early                                          listen to the radio when
warning towers are used to                                             the spouse goes out on
conduct these drills (H‟tota,                                          his job (fishery)
Ampara)                                                                (H‟tota)

Draw hazard maps, locate safe
places (Ampara, Batticaloa,
H‟tota)

Preplanning on how to provide
temporary shelters, food,
clothes, medicine, water and
toilet facilities. Protection and
care of kids. (Batticaloa)

First aid trainings were
conducted by DMC and NGO‟s
(H‟tota)

Livelihood development
programmes conducted by the
Government (H‟tota)
                              Landslides
After 2003 awareness was built    Men rehabilitate damaged             Women get the children     Watching for wall cracks &
on landslides by the NBRO and     walls and floors frequently          ready to go to safe        water levels and being
other government officers         (Kegalle)                            places (Village temple),   prepared to move at short
(H‟tota)                                                               They collect valuable      notice (Kegalle, H‟tota)
Built awareness of all villagers, When rainfall increases men          documents such as
GN and other grassroots of keep watch (even through the                certificates, children's   Involving in early warning

                                                                                                                     40
government officers on selected       night) on the house and their     educational materials,    dissemination systems and
high risk areas. Emergency            fields for signs of landslides.   land documents and        identify safer places and
contact phone numbers were            They block unnecessary water      jewellery and money. In   routes (H‟tota)
given     to    villagers    to       flow, and dig drainage paths to   some villages women
communicate to responsible            change water flow direction       have a pack made of       The villagers have collectively
parties when disasters occur          (Kegalle)                         important items to take   decided that felling of trees is
(Kegalle)                                                               with them in case of      prohibited and villagers
                                      Watch for warning from wild       landslide danger          themselves watch out and if
Developed the disaster                animals specially the owl         (Kegalle)                 someone tries to break the
preparedness plan with the            gives some hint of disaster                                 rule, community interferes and
support of the DMC (H‟tota)           (Kegalle)                         Women also keep           directs him/her to legal
                                                                        awake in times of         authorities.
Alerting authorities of risks,                                          impending disasters.      (H‟tota)
identifying shelters/safe places                                        (Kegalle)
(Kegalle)
                                                                        Women have good
Develop community based early                                           relationships with
warning system – (H‟tota)                                               nearby villagers to get
                                                                        support in times of
Reforestation programmes by                                             disaster situations
the government sector (H‟tota)                                          (Kegalle)

Awareness programmes e.g.                                               Women have developed
techniques to build houses in                                           negotiation skills to
hilly areas, mitigation of                                              work with other women
landslide by NBRO (H‟tota)                                              and children without
                                                                        conflict in disaster
                                                                        situations. And some
                                                                        leadership skills have
                                                                        been improved too
                                                                        (Kegalle)
                                   Cyclones




                                                                                                                      41
Pays attention to strengthen      Take men‟s (husband)
the roof of the house (H‟tota)    attention to risky trees
                                  and get them pruned
Pruning of big trees around the   prior to the rainy
house during windy months.        season(H‟tota)
(H‟tota)




                                                             42
The above table conveys that amongst the portfolio of DRR activities, those undertaken by men
concentrate on primary income sources and economic issues. This is not to undermine their interest
and commitment to the wellbeing of their families - health, safety, shelter, and nourishment. For
women, these become the primary concerns given their gender roles and responsibilities, while
activities relating to principal income sources are secondary. Further, the actions within the structure
for communities, are largely for both men and women, but tend to reflect men‟s needs.

Although both men and women do possess various coping strategies from preserving food to
cultivating saline tolerant traditional seed materials to deal with changing environment, formal
support for CCA is yet to be recognized.

3.2 Women’s Awareness and the Participation in DRR / DM

As noted earlier, the participation of women, the representation of women as a group and their views
as well as the inclusion of gender concerns in DRR / DM are principal criteria in gender-sensitive
disaster interventions. The following section will consider the consciousness of women‟s and gender
issues in DRR and DM in the selected communities in India and Sri Lanka as well as the participation
of women in DRR at non-governmental levels.

Women’s Views
Most of the grassroots women groups in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat with whom focus group discussions
(FGDs) were held shared the view that government authorities‟ responses to emergencies due to
disasters tend to be delayed. Usually community women were the first to respond to a disaster. Thus,
women were of the view that they needed to prepare themselves in order to safeguard the lives of their
people and to protect their livelihoods and assets. They see themselves as more concerned about both
the wellbeing of communities and the consequences of disasters than men or the traditional governing
structures.

Women‟s groups from Gujarat note that “it is the women who are first to respond in the time of
disaster. They take care of everything: stock food supplies, care for family members and livestock, get
hold of essential household items, help their husbands at work, manage money, maintain social
relations and take an active stance on social problems.”

Women‟s views in reducing disaster risk are essential given that they have a wider understanding of
the long-term effects of disaster as well as a keener awareness of preventative action. For instance
when it comes to disaster prevention activities, village women leaders in the Indian sample identified
a range of possibilities including the construction of shelter belt plantations and/or bonds along sea
shores and the strengthening of village water bodies such as dams and canals. This is because shelter
belts reduce the force and entry of waves as well as cyclonic winds that result in erosion. Securing
water bodies alleviates water scarcity in periods of drought and increases agricultural livelihood
resilience. Additionally, the plantation of trees would retain groundwater during droughts. By not
harnessing women‟s views, DRR / DM projects and programmes loose out on important community
perspectives on the issue.

Gender Biases
Women are generally viewed as one of the vulnerable sections in societies. This bias is also reflected
in the policy document relating to DRR (as discussed earlier) and in DRR / DM practice at ground
level. For instance, in the formation and training of disaster management task teams (in the Indian
study) there is gender segregation in the allocation of duties due to stereotypical understandings of


                                                                                                     43
women and gender. Such assumptions tend to restrict the potential and capacity of women in disaster
risk management (DRM) initiatives.

There were also gender biases and prejudices pertaining to the mobility of women when it came to
search and rescue operations. For instance, in most of the villages in Gujarat, men said that women
should focus on first aid and running common kitchens as they were not capable of participating in
search and rescue operations because they wore saris and this would interfere with their speed and
mobility.

Similarly, when it comes to who participates in village level committees of the disaster management
units (DMUs), the involvement of men and women varied based on cultural practices, economic
circumstances and other factors that crosscut with gender. For example, in Kegalle committee
representatives were chosen based on social standing, education levels, past linkages with the
government (retired government servants), youth leadership etc. Given the type of selection criteria,
they tend to be more male dominated. Among households with „higher‟ social standing, DRR / DM
type of community work was not considered suitable for the women in the households. Again, in
Kegalle, the location of the meeting (in the Police station), were also seen as a deterrent for women to
attend meetings as police stations are not considered „proper‟ places for „respectable‟ women to visit.
In Batticaloa, social norms as well as views on the „appropriate‟ women‟s roles/jobs prevented
women from participating in the committees - especially among the Muslim communities.

Women’s Participation
When looking at community level involvement in DRR, in Sri Lanka village disaster management
committees (VDMCs) are the main conduits of interaction. The guidelines for the formation of these
groups do not have any gender restrictions and are open to both women and men of the community.
The committees in the districts studied are at various stages of development and are involved in
different types / levels of activities. However, women‟s participation depended on surmounting
gender biases as discussed earlier. However, demographic factors also impacted on women‟s
participation. For instance, in Batticaloa there was higher female representation due to high female
headed households, a changing feature since the tsunami and armed conflict. In Ampara and
Hambantota where men are away on work, the representation of women was also higher. Therefore
participation and representation in these committees were not based on equal / equitable
representation of groups or their interests.

In addition to the disaster management committees at village level, there are other types of
organisations that also play a role in DRR. These include farmer/fishermen societies, women‟s
groups, security committees, death donation societies etc. Some of these function as community led
initiatives (death donation society, farmer/fisher groups) or those led/formed by government or NGO
groups for various purposes (i.e set up by NGOs for livelihoods, loans, or government groups set up
for health awareness). These groups show a gender difference in representation and control. For
example the farmer/fisher groups tend to be mainly men and collective decisions are taken by them
independently (although regulations have to be met and advice from related agencies such as
Agrarian/irrigation services etc., are solicited). Although women are in leadership positions in
women‟s groups and collective decisions are made by women in these groups, they are also more
often than not managed by an external entity such as an NGO/GO, which does not give them total
autonomy.

Further, the farmers and fishers associations have higher decision making authority in community
issues. This could be due to their direct links with predominant livelihoods of the area. Women‟s
societies are seen generally in a more supportive role.
                                                                                                     44
In India, the key entry point for women‟s participation at community levels has been through
women‟s savings and credit groups or SHGs (as they are referred to in India). The SHG movement
spans many states, particularly the multi-hazard and disaster prone states such as Tamil Nadu, Andhra
Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Assam and Bihar. Women‟s activities and initiatives in resilience
building begin at the level of the SHGs through regular savings and inter-loaning from their pooled
savings. Many groups are linked with entrepreneurs, banks and government access schemes. SHG
members from Haddan, Rajasthan, explained that prior to the formation of SHGs in their village,
women felt helpless and lacked an outlet for the discussion of personal, family and community issues,
and were excluded from village committees and governance.

Since the formation of SHGs, women have come together to combat alcoholism in the village and to
address health issues, including malaria. SHGs also practice effective strategies to reduce their risk to
disaster. In certain villages, SHGs were the first to be approached for village cleaning and food
distribution following the tsunami. Furthermore, in the recovery efforts after the tsunami, pre-existing
SHGs offered a channel through which government relief workers and international agencies could
reach and organize community members for relief efforts and mobilize women to help in relief
operations. This is because self help groups have an advantage as they can facilitate women‟s
participation. They are already organized, articulate and experienced in collective management of
credit and other resources, although they are of varying rather than uniform capacities. Networks of
women‟s SHGs have been strengthened following both natural and man-made calamities. Groups
have become active in communities, well known and trusted in their initiatives, gaining the
recognition and respect of men, government officials, service providers and NGO activists. The
linkages formed by women‟s federations are critical for mobilization and resilience building pre- and
post- disaster. This also indicates the usefulness of strengthening these groups prior to disasters so that
they become effective in post disaster situations.

Micro-credit and savings groups in Sri Lanka also play a crucial in women‟s mobilization. Largely
dominated by women they provide a degree of financial security. One of the main activities of a group
in Lunugamwehera, Hambantota district is to provide a source of financial support to families in debt
or during disasters. Each member brings some paddy and one bar of soap to the group meeting which
is then collectively sold to one member of the group at a price less than the market price. The amount
paid is then channelled to the group fund which is maintained by the team leader to be used at the
time of a disaster. The collected amount can be given to a member of the group who has been affected
by a disaster or is in a debt situation. It is given as a non-interest loan or with interest. This is very
helpful to members during a disaster situation or when they are in a situation of debt. The reliance and
maintenance of these social networks and social capital also ensured other benefits such as childcare
for the women members. There is also a sense of security and comfort in these networks, especially at
times when family units have been split due to economic reasons (men migrating for work outside the
village). In times of disaster too, the disruption of these social networks can increase the
vulnerabilities of women, especially in terms of their ability to recover.

Some forms of savings and credit collectives or women‟s groups are present in almost all the villages
of the two studies. On the whole, they represent an untapped potential for systematic DRR / DM
action. Formalizing roles of these women‟s groups vis-à-vis DRR and DM with a clear scope of
responsibilities and activities will enhance the DRR continuum at village levels.

The above examples of women‟s participation / mobilization in DRR at community level convey
significant disparities between the two countries. The Indian scenario refers only to women‟s groups
while in Sri Lanka NGOs include both women groups as well as other organizations. The differences
in the mobilization of women in DRR between the two countries are possibly due to a higher degree

                                                                                                        45
of mobilization of women‟s groups in India - given the activist history of the Indian women‟s
movement as a whole as well as the social / community acceptance of these groups. Consequently,
Indian women, despite being exposed to gender biases were involved in both traditional and non-
traditional DM activities. Sri Lankan women‟s participation was dependent on factors such as the
absence of men, times and places of meetings on DM, religious, class, social and cultural norms etc. It
was also reliant on the existing organizational mandates of the NGOs in these areas. This gives rise to
the vital importance of the aspirations of gender equity / equality as a policy issue; as well as gender
sensitivity and affirmative action in mitigation efforts.

Barriers to women’s involvement in DRR / DM include

   Gender / cultural / religious bias
   Families‟ critical dependence on women in provision of fuel, fodder, food, water, health care,
    child care, cattle care, agriculture etc which put enormous amount of competing claims on
    women‟s time use
   Domination of men in agenda setting and decision making at the community level
   Management of community development funds being done by Gram Panchayats (GPs) (i.e.
    institutions of local self government at the village level), with little substantive involvement of
    women, despite their mandatory representation in these institutions
   Poor access to information and institutions

Women’s empowerment in DRR / DM was enabled by

   Mechanisms to solicit their opinions
   Women being organized and networked
   Women being involved in participatory analysis of their risk profile at the local level
   Women participating in community meetings and engaging in dialogue with local governments
    and authorities especially on reintegration to society and reconciliation processes
   Women joining as members of community level disaster management committees and task forces
   Women enhancing their knowledge and skill through their participation in training and experience
    sharing activities (gender / capacity-building on DRR / DM / development)
   Access to livelihood-based economic strategies


3.3 Development of Women’s Capacities and Skills

The development of resilience through increased capacities and skills of communities is crucial not
only for DRR and increasing adaptive capacities but also for short and long-term recovery from a
disaster. India‟s NAPCC mentions that: “With climate change there would be increasing scarcity of
water, reductions in yields of biomass, and increased risks to human health with children, women and
the elderly in a household becoming the most vulnerable”. Thus, addressing basic needs in terms of
services and infrastructure, ensuring access to drinking and irrigation water, providing health services
and sanitation, securing livelihoods, ensuring food and fodder security and working on connectivity
are all means of reducing vulnerability to disasters and creating resilience in communities. As
community members, women have a crucial role to play in such community development efforts.
Moreover, if such initiatives in development and DRR are to be meaningful to women they require
sensitivity to women‟s needs, issues and aspirations.

                                                                                                          46
This section will look only at women‟s access to and involvement in capacity-building programmes
and measures in India and Sri Lanka (especially given the asymmetry in data generation in the two
countries).

In India, community women are currently working in the following sectors: community health,
alternate livelihood, water and sanitation, access to government schemes/programmes and
strengthening local governance.


 Women believe that all these sectors are linked to disasters; for example, access to clean drinking
 water will prevent water borne disease, alternative livelihoods will provide income for affected
 traditional livelihoods, access to primary health centres will reduce health expenditure in a time
 where disease and health problems are increased. Furthermore, risks posed by climate change in
 the form of unseasonal rain, cyclones and flooding are severe and affect the agricultural sector
 most harshly. Income levels are reduced from low agricultural productivity whereas expenditures
 and input prices increase. It is hence crucial to address livelihood and development problems when
 wanting to reduce disaster risk. Risk consists not in the likelihood of disaster occurrence, but the
 community‟s ability or inability to deal with disaster once it strikes.


This section will thus look at three sectorally important areas in terms of DRR in Sri Lanka and India
so as to reduce community vulnerability and improve resilience:

       Livelihoods – in terms of increasing ability to withstand shocks – by increasing economic
        gain, providing greater food security and reducing poverty.
       Health – in terms of reducing the direct impacts of disasters on affected communities and well
        as mitigating health-related disasters, preventing disease/loss of life etc and long-term
        wellbeing of men and women and households,
       Infrastructure – that looks at the physical structures that are needed to protect from disasters.




                                                                                                        47
3.3.1 Livelihoods
A measure of disaster resilience is the capacity of community members to return to income generating
activities following a disaster. Traditional livelihood sources of fishing and farming are reliant on
environmental conditions and are, therefore, vulnerable to natural disasters. The creation of alternative
sources of income is therefore an important component of disaster resilience.

In Sri Lanka, interventions operating at the ground level, that address livelihood resilience ranged
from short term preparedness and mitigation (monitoring water levels, cleaning the canals etc), to
immediate relief (writing off existing loans, insurance claims) and long term measures such as
savings, insurance, putting in physical structures like rain water harvesting tanks, drip irrigation,
starting alternative income sources (food processing, masonry etc) as well as strengthening agriculture
and environment buffers through soil erosion control measures, coastal green belts,
indigenous/drought/flood resistant seed varieties etc.

Some of these livelihood common to both men and women such as elephant fencing and the
installation of rain water harvesting tanks. However, there are also some that tend to focus on men –
such as crop insurance for damages to major crops - those that are considered primary income
sources, while home gardening, micro-credit, food processing tend to focus on women. There is a
gender differentiation in the types of employment/income generating activities at community level –
men are trained in masonry, mechanical works, tailoring, while women receive assistance for sewing
(different from tailoring), poultry, food processing. This distinction can be related not only to the
community‟s cultural and social assumptions with regard to what are considered gender appropriate
vocations but also the assumptions of the institutions that provide these services.

In India on the other hand, what was most striking was the significant diversification in livelihood
options following the earthquake in Gujarat in 2001 and the tsunami in Tamil Nadu in 2004. Many
organizations have provided women‟s collectives with training on creating alternative livelihoods
such as Agarbathi-incense production, coir production, pickle production, seashell product selling,
candle-making, catering, shop-keeping, embroidery, and tailoring, among others, have been taken up
by both individual women and groups, to diversify sources of income and build community resilience
to disaster.

The selection of livelihoods options conformed to social norms that tend to increase livelihood
support for women in the Sri Lankan sample. These are ones that keep women closer to their homes
and families, increase household security and aligned to their role as carers, while men have a far
wider berth of choices. Thus, many of the Sri Lankan livelihoods programmes in operation are
promoted only as supplementary income sources and target women. Even though they are sponsored
with the intention of increasing women‟s coping strategies, other characteristics such as women being
more responsible/reliable (as in the case of micro finance), or donor driven agendas, where women are
more focused on, or in some cases women are seen as the best choice as they are “easier to manage”
and “don‟t make trouble”, can devalue their capacities and abilities.

In contrast, developing women‟s entrepreneurial activity was seen as key to diversification and
resilience building within the Indian context. In Assam, women manage a weekly market, Amar
Bazaar (Our Market), where they sell products and have full ownership of the income that they earn.
In Bihar, women purchase general commodities for further sale and prepare snacks to generate
income during flood periods, when traditional sources of livelihood are ineffective. Women‟s groups
in Gujarat are looking to scale up their entrepreneurship initiatives and partner with private companies
in order to expand. For instance, women from Kunad village, Jamnagar district, have started a
collective dairy business and are looking to expand by forming a partnership with Gopal Dairy.
                                                                                                      48
Women from Ananda village, also in Jamnagar district, are working to create linkages with
companies among other enterprises.

There are also collective livelihood activities in Sri Lanka. There are fisheries and farming societies
(based on primary incomes) that are mainly represented by men. These groups take collective
decisions (water release for irrigation) or lobbying collectively for support as well as for information
sharing. The societies that women tend to belong to are more focused towards accessing services as in
the case of group loans for micro finance, or group marketing projects or working together for the
common good of their communities (volunteer work). This shows the different orientations of the
involvement of men and women in collective livelihood action.

In this context, an interesting development supportive of community livelihoods in India are fish
vending women‟s federations (in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu). These are federations that support
groups engaged in the same livelihood activity. They also provide a support network through which
disaster affected people sharing the same livelihood activity can collectively voice their needs and
make demands. This enables communities most strongly affected by disaster to „bounce back‟ in
terms of restarting their livelihoods and accessing necessary resources and compensation.
Furthermore, the promotion of livelihoods insurance for communities already enrolled in certain
livelihoods (i.e. crop or fish insurance) was another form of support to individuals and communities
when disasters devastate regular livelihood sources. However, the government needs to ensure that the
scheme is scaled up and renewed regularly. Women suggest that awareness of insurance be raised
among the vulnerable communities.

In Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, enterprises which were earlier considered to be supplementary now provide
primary income to women who have become the breadwinners in their families. However, the
involvement of these female headed households in these livelihoods was not always based on capacity
but rather, more as a coping strategy due to the lack of choices.



Men and women both are involved in livelihoods. Women contribute more because women headed
households have increased. Conflict of the country has increased the number of widows and
separated couples. There are 25,000 widows in Batticaloa district.

                                                                         FGD, Government, Batticaloa

Given the large numbers involved, viable livelihood training and opportunities are necessary to
empower this sub-group of women.

In Sri Lanka, women in the sample were involved in group credit – formal (MFI) and informal (seetu)
as well as group enterprises (which are also supported and encouraged by NGOs etc). In comparison
the SHG movement in India (discussed earlier) has emerged as a powerful socio-economic force.
SHGs are collectives of 10-20 women who save regularly and inter-loan from their pooled savings
which provide SHG members and their families with an economic safety net. Women are now able to
make financial decisions on their own, fall back on savings in the event of emergencies and take loans
to use as start-up capital in building enterprises, amongst other things. They have contributed to
reducing women‟s economic and social vulnerability and empowering women to participate in local
decision-making processes – even though it is not clear as to the extent that women are able to
influence the decision-making processes. In Tamil Nadu, SHGs have introduced and strengthened the
practice of savings, which prior to the tsunami was not regularly practiced in fishing communities;
traditionally, high season earnings were spent during the season itself, with no inter-period transfer of

                                                                                                      49
resources. In Sadar block of Darbanga district, Bihar, women‟s SHGs have not only been saving
regularly but have also maintained an emergency fund of Rs. 5000 to be utilized in a health
emergency or natural disaster during the flood season (July to September). Indian women from SHGs
in Bihar as well as other states maintained emergency funds regularly. Women who normally keep Rs.
500 as emergency cash, saved up to 10 times over for a emergency health and disaster fund during
flood season (July to September). MFIs and SHGs in Orissa offer interest-free loans for community
members who are particularly vulnerable, especially in disaster situations.

With regard to building the adaptive capacity of communities to climate change, some of the
measures already discussed such as micro finance loans, crop insurance, soil erosion measures,
disaster resistance crops are of specific relevance.

Barriers to greater involvement in livelihoods are attributed to:

      Poor access to funds, information and institutions on the one hand and lack of organisation on
       the other.
      Socio - cultural barriers [women are not sent out of the home for employment, their role is
       seen as homemakers (status in family, responsibilities within family), accepted behaviours
       and beliefs, e.g. women‟s voice seen as attracting the elephant and therefore they should not
       should go out to chase the elephant].
      Religious beliefs and interpretation of religious scriptures.
      Education levels are also seen to prevent women‟s more active engagement in livelihoods and
       DRR.
      Women own perceptions that these are not their roles, which is also held by society as a
       whole, prevents the ability to break down these barriers.

Women’s involvement in livelihoods was enabled by:

In Sri Lanka:
      Access to Micro finance loans to start primary and secondary income generating activities
       such as sewing, food processing activities provides increased opportunities for livelihood
       strengthening while cancellation of existing loans and re-issuing new loans in disaster
       situations allows for external support for risk management.
      Specific government supported projects (Craft Council Sri Lanka) provide market linkages to
       women producers‟ groups
      Training programmes on income generating activities – for processing and planting
       techniques as well as training on empowerment that strengthen their capabilities.
      Activities for stabilizing the environment such as green belts, soil erosion control, and
       drainage management that provide long term mitigation for protecting livelihoods.
      Use of indigenous knowledge for crop management practices and planting more resistance
       seed and crops varieties.
      Paying attention to households‟ food security needs due to the role given to them as managers
       of the households.
      Specifically targeted programmes and project for women by NGOs that work to improve
       livelihoods options.
   In India:

                                                                                                  50
       Women being organised as self help groups (SHGs) or microcredit collectives and their
        subsequent networking as federations.
       Women‟s access to funds (such as in Community Disaster Resilience Fund (CDRF) initiative
        of National Alliance for Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction (NAADRR)).
       Women‟s access to public institutions (such as ASHA groups structural engagement with
        government‟s primary health care centres) resulting in improved health status to pursue
        livelihoods activities.
       Women‟s initiative to manage and run their own weekly markets (Amar Bazar in Assam).
In the long run, key issues relating to capacity building vis-à-vis livelihoods involve the recognition of
the need for non-traditional livelihood opportunities, the diversification of livelihoods in post-disaster
situations, the institution of credit schemes as well as community livelihoods support systems for
women and special programmes for needy groups. While the two studies do not evaluate the extent to
which these micro-credit fuelled livelihoods are able to empower women, it is important to ensure that
they do not end as being mere coping strategies that do not promote long-term progressive
entrepreneurship.
3.3.2 Health
Following disasters, the health of surviving communities often suffer and sanitation standards fall,
especially when residing in temporary shelters. Increased awareness on the promotion of health,
disease prevention and sanitation will undoubtedly help to reduce the risks posed by disasters to the
health of affected communities. Traditionally, the health needs and health care of families have been
regarded as part of women‟s gender responsibilities. Thus in a majority of instances, health
programmes (both government and non-government) that were oriented towards addressing the health
and wellbeing of the community were directed at women in Sri Lanka and in India.

Women were not very involved in the decision-making or planning processes, despite the recognition
that they have capacities and experience as well as more responsibility for food and nutrition (given
their gender roles) – especially in terms of disaster situations (i.e. food processing, storing food). In
the Sri Lankan health sector, the structures / programmes that address women‟s needs are tied to the
reproductory functions / caregiver role of women. On the one hand, there are structured support
services that address pregnant mothers and mothers with young children. At the same time, there are
also programmes relating to the community (programmes on the prevention of vector borne diseases -
especially mosquito borne diseases such as dengue and malaria - sanitation and hygiene, and
nutrition) that also target women. These are based on the assumption that all women are mothers and
responsible for their households and that they should therefore address the wellbeing of their
children/families. In some areas (Kegalle) there were also programmes for women that addressed
issues of HIV/AIDS, sexual harassment as well environmental hazards such as waste management. In
comparison, women in the Indian sample played far more advanced roles. In Tamil Nadu, women‟s
health and governance groups collaborate with the government to improve the quality and delivery of
health services.

In relief situations there is special attention paid to the needs of women (separate toilets, privacy as
well as special attention to pregnant women and young children) who are considered more vulnerable
to the effects of the disasters. During the tsunami it was recognized that there were more mental
health problems among women in Sri Lanka. This was possibly due to their having to cope with the
loss of family members, having to take on new roles as heads-of-households, face challenges of
rebuilding in situations where conditions are not favourable for women (dealing with bureaucracy,
land holdings etc). Yet, while mental health issues among women were recognized as a vulnerability
caused by a disaster (and therefore women may have greater access to available support systems),

                                                                                                       51
men‟s mental health needs were not adequately met as men are generally perceived to be stronger.
Thus while health services are provided based on the recognition of these types of vulnerable
conditions; it is possible that assumptions about gender may prevent equitable / equal access.

Sri Lankan women are also more involved in health related activities at the lower levels – in jobs as
well as participants in the dissemination of health information on a volunteer basis. In some villages
of the Indian sample, women actively facilitated health services such as health camps and distribute
herbal medicines. As women are the primary users of this information, the possibility of their role in
passing it on to other women needs to be recognised. However the fact that this type of role is
voluntary can reduce its spread and impact.

Barriers in accessing / participating in healthcare programmes by women are recognized as:

       The inability of women to participate in trainings and programmes due to economic
        insecurity, cultural issues, and heavy work load in the home
       Opposition from husbands due to a lack of understanding of the usefulness of these
        programmes
       The discouragement of women from higher social status from engaging in volunteer work at
        times
       Women‟s lack of education
       Cultural and religious restrictions
       Geographical locations and transport issues
Women’s access to healthcare and participation in healthcare programmes was enabled by:

In Sri Lanka:
       Women‟s own prioritizing of health and hygiene factors especially due to care giver role
        placed on women of children and elderly.
       Awareness programmes, interactions and training with health officials from Government and
        NGO sources has increased the flow of information and support to the community.
       Women themselves transferring health and disaster preparedness information to other women
        can increase the outreach.
       The acceptance of the need for targeted activities that address the needs of pregnant mothers
        in relief situations
       Awareness on vector borne diseases, water related issues

In India:
       Accessing easy credit through community based organisations (such as SHGs and ASHA) in
        times of health emergencies.
       Working with local authorities in the provision of required primary health care via the
        membership of CBOs.
       Enhanced access to information following participation in meetings both within and outside
        their village
       Greater social acceptance following women‟s organised work in post-disaster interventions
        (post-Tsunami and post-Bhuj earthquake recovery phase in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat
        respectively.

                                                                                                   52
       Increased access to funds such as the community disaster resilience fund (CDRF) and
        institutions such as Primary Health Centers (PHCs) at the local level


3.3.3 Infrastructure Development in DRR / DM
Another measure of recovery from disaster is the capacity of communities to construct and reconstruct
the damaged infrastructure facilities in the disaster-stricken locality. The current perspective in DM is
to consider disasters as an opportunity to start afresh and according to a new development mandate,
and not simply aspire for pre-disaster „normalcy‟. The Indian sample felt that there were several
factors that were essential to ensure the safety of their communities: good road transportation
facilities/infrastructure, volunteer teams, strong networks that are linked with the government, proper
drainage facilities, and cooperation with NGOs that conduct long term projects in the localities.
However, the two studies conveyed significant disparities in terms of women‟s contributions and
participation in decision-making and in the implementation of post-disaster infrastructure projects and
programmes.

Because of their familiarity with the ground reality, SHG women were better positioned to participate
/ represent their views in the design and execution of development interventions that mitigate disaster
risk in their villages and communities. To put it simply, women‟s comments implied that what is good
for development is good in times of disasters as well. For example all weather roads and sturdy canal
bridges would allow children to attend schools even during monsoons; trained and experienced staff
in sufficient number at health centres will mean better health care during disasters; well constructed
and properly maintained village drains would allow flood waters to drain out quickly and prevent
avoidable flooding and water logging.

There has been compelling evidence from many resettlement sites such as Tsunami Nagar in
Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu that participation of women SHGs ensures improved housing,
services and infrastructure. While these themes clearly require more long term commitment and
actions, they pinpoint the disaster mitigation measures that would sustain community interest in DRR.




In Sri Lanka, the priority when putting in place infrastructure is to consider it on a family or
community level. The understanding or recognition that women and men should both be consulted
and made part of the planning process when building, locating structures etc was acknowledged;
however planning information did not reveal how or if this was done. In general, there was a lack of
women‟s involvement in infrastructure-related activities. Yet during times of crisis (in this instance,
the war in the North and East of the country) women became knowledgeable about road mapping in
the absence of men folk from the village (due to the war or due to economic hardships). Women‟s
groups in the Indian study exhibited a far more advanced involvement as they show remarkable
initiatives in coming forward to engage in dialogue with local authorities, share their concerns and
priorities, and provide expert advice and support for community level development initiatives in a
manner that reduces the disaster risk of their communities.

“After the floods we began addressing these problems because we did not want our communities to
face these problems again. Thus the Gram Panchayat is seeking to improve drinking water facilities
by raising the height of tube wells, improving roads, planting trees to prevent soil erosion, getting a
health centre and improving roads.”

                                                                         (FGD with women in Gujarat)
                                                                                                      53
Women were often the ones to raise awareness of manmade hazards and vulnerabilities posed by poor
infrastructure. These are identified in vulnerability mapping sessions and also from experience of
previous disasters. Grassroots groups in both Gujarat and Tamil Nadu have begun a push against the
elimination of manmade infrastructural risks. Women in Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu, have removed
bushels that make escape from waves, floods, and cyclones difficult, cleared up a cremation ground
that was posing health risks for the community, and dug pits to store rainwater for periods of little
rain. Women‟s groups in Jamnagar, Gujarat have pushed for the construction of dams, embankments
and water storage tanks in order to address scarcity of fresh irrigation and drinking water and the high
salinity of ground waters.

When it came to the utilization of infrastructure development women‟s groups in the Indian sample
had taken over community halls in tsunami and cyclone areas in A.P, T.N and Orissa with support
from the government. Community buildings are now gaining importance as multi-purpose centres
after women‟s groups have started to use them to serve community basic needs in education, health
and governance during normal times and for evacuation and rescue needs in times of disaster. They
were empowered by these local governments as being responsible for maintenance after it was seen
that both cyclone shelters and community halls were falling to disrepair and not used. Women‟s
groups revived their use in non-disaster times as spaces in which to hold community meetings, for
health check up camps and in times of disasters, it would house early warning equipment and serve as
a safe space. Women designated safe spaces for children, women and the medically ill and their
caretakers.

The Sri Lanka study showed different disaster-related infrastructure inputs in different districts. Such
inputs also varied according to the types of disasters and in relation to whether they addressed pre or
post disaster services. Such infrastructure includes alert towers, relief centres, evacuation routes
(mainly tsunami related, although they are also available for floods and land slides), lightning
conductors (Kegalle), demarcation of sensitive areas – to floods, landslides, tsunami, making access
routes etc. Post disaster structures and plans for immediate disaster relief – setting up of centres,
provision of facilities (electricity, water, sanitation, and cooking) were available. However it is not
clear from the study as to who was involved in the decision-making or implementation of these
facilities. Long-term preparedness in the form of soil erosion control measures and safe drinking
water sources were implemented in Kegalle. Both women and men were involved in their
implementation. Women in Hambantotta were instrumental in collecting and measuring water from
rain gauges. However, longer-term disaster related infrastructure were less frequent (although there
were some incidences of two storey housing, resettlement in safe areas, and access routes mentioned).

Some barriers to women’s involvement in infrastructure development / utilization include:

       Less time due to workload at home
       Less knowledge of these aspects
       Reluctance to get involved due to their lack of experience as this is not within
        “normal/expected “ gender roles
       Traditional influences and cultural barriers
       Women‟s and societies‟ perception that women do not have the physical strength needed to
        actively participate in infrastructure work
       Not being given training in capacity-building (such as driving, rowing boats, first-aid etc.)
        due to gender-based assumptions.
Women’s involvement in infrastructure development / utilization was enabled by:

                                                                                                     54
In Sri Lanka:
      Women have taken on activities such as mapping, deciding on evacuation support etc that are
       not seen as typically their roles and proving that it is possible (as was seen in the Batticaloa),
       or watching for flood levels
      The acceptance of the need for targeted activities that address the needs of women in relief
       situations – such as privacy, support to pregnant mothers and young children.
      Being a part of the Village Disaster Management Committees or other social welfare groups,
       CBOs has given women a formal way to be involved in decision making and disaster
       management activities.
In India:
      Employment in community infrastructure development projects (National Rural Employment
       Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), which provides 100 days of assured employment to the poor)
      Exposure to DRR exercises such as hazards and vulnerability assessments
      INGO / NGO interventions specifically targeting and including women in DRR
      The status and capacity of women‟s organizations to engage and negotiate with local
       government




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Findings
Legislation and Policies

Gender equity / equality in DRR/DM government legislative frameworks and institutional structures /
processes of disaster management are conspicuous by their absence in both India and Sri Lanka.
While there is policy recognition of the role of women in DRR in India, there has yet to be a national
level strategy or action plan supported with appropriate budgetary allocation to make it happen in real
action on the ground. In both countries, references to gender and women are few and far between in
policy frameworks and again not backed by any concrete initiative and corresponding budgetary
allocation. There is a general consensus in both countries that women play and need to play a major
role in reducing disaster risk. However, there is a remarkable amount of ambivalence in the way
women are perceived and presented within the DRR context in both Sri Lanka and India. In Sri
Lanka, they are perceived primarily as vulnerable, as mothers, homemakers, and carers. In India they
are often referred to as vulnerable/disadvantaged group, and seldom as major actors in disaster
management. There has yet to be a country wide strategic action plan to mainstream gender concerns
into DRR initiatives and a monitoring and evaluation system to track its trajectory and results in both
countries.

Institutional Structures

In Sri Lanka, existing governmental and non-governmental institutional structures that were used for
DRR did not always allow for the participation of women in disaster planning and decision-making.
Though these may not be purposively structured to discriminate against women, other factors such as
accepted social / gender roles and cultural values tend to marginalize women from decision-making
positions. In general, there is a lack of awareness of DRR / DM policy (local and international) among
the district level officials implementing the Sri Lankan village disaster management committees
(VDMCs). Among the NGOs and the communities themselves there is even less awareness. In fact,
they do not even identify themselves as stakeholders in international or national policies on DRR but
are either following prescriptive circulars / TORs or actively engaged in local level situations.

Programmes
In India, the DRR programme has been significant in terms of scale and successful in creating
awareness about disaster risks that the communities face as well as the need for their preparedness for
effective disaster response (that included search, rescue and first aid). Though disaster mitigation was
one of long-term stated objectives, this has not been addressed adequately. Although there are Sri
Lankan programmes and support structures in place for long term support – especially designed to
strengthen women‟s livelihoods and health-related resilience, the manner in which these programmes
are implemented does not really give women the self-awareness or confidence to be influential actors
in the process. In fact, their involvement as free labour does give value to their strengths and
capacities. It also raised questions about the distinction between building capacity and exploiting
women.

In both countries, even when in place, policy and programme initiatives are not adequately backed by
appropriate gender expertise, budget allocations for recurring expenditure on mainstreaming gender,
or special funds for women‟s empowerment.

The needs of the community/women were addressed in different ways during different disasters (for
example, in Sri Lanka, during the tsunami special attention was paid to the evacuation of pregnant

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women and the elderly). In the case of elephant attacks, pregnant women admitted themselves close to
their due dates (without waiting for signs of childbirth) as a means of preventing emergency
situations. However, these concerns and preventative measures do not get reflected in official action.

Access to knowledge/awareness of their entitlements and rights were not evident – among men or
women in Sri Lanka. Therefore in some circumstances communities have not been able to capitalize
on services that could have helped them rebuild.

Women’s Participation
In Sri Lanka, constraining factors such as social norms and cultural / religious values and attitudes
(that do not acknowledge women‟s physical strength and knowledge) as well as women‟s own
perceptions of their abilities still hamper women‟s capacity to participate and be given equal weight /
recognition for their contributions. Nevertheless, changing circumstances in Sri Lanka such as
conflict, men leaving the villages in search of employment etc, have resulted in the increased
participation of women in all types of disaster activities (including taking on roles normally seen as
men‟s roles).

Post-disaster engagement of Indian women‟s groups in the provision of public services has helped re-
position grassroots Indian women as public figures, community leaders and managers of essential
services and small businesses in the eyes of their community members. This has helped overcome
traditional social and cultural barriers to public participation which earlier made it difficult for women
to act and speak out as individuals in rural and remote communities. Furthermore, organized women
gained the confidence to play multiple roles of community organizers, problem solvers, information
managers and service providers. This has directly helped women in overseeing risk reduction
initiatives that are critical to building community resilience.

Indian women‟s SHGs have helped to integrate disaster management with development as they have
bank linkages and federations of their own, carry a lot of experience and capacity to engage in
development work at the community level on the one hand and to handle funds responsibly on the
other. In some instances, SHGs have moved beyond their limited mandate of being savings and credit
groups to emerge as reliable channels for development investment both by governments and outside
donor agencies.

Thus in India, self-help groups (SHGs) of women are the untapped potential and opportunity for
replicating models for DRR intervention that support SHGs in formal roles as change agents in DRR
                                  25
and climate change interventions . This is because self help groups have an advantage as they can
facilitate women‟s participation.

Women‟s own analyses of risk and women‟s risk reduction strategies (including time tested ways of
coping with risk in restoring livelihoods, rebuilding homes, ensuring access and quality in essential
services) have yet to be viewed as significant DRR activities by external agencies in general and
government in particular.

Sometimes the non-monetary nature of women‟s preparedness and risk reduction initiatives renders
women‟s contributions invisible to outside agencies such as local governments and many a time even

25
   As per National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) estimates, there are around 2.2 million SHGs
in India representing 33 million women members that have taken loans from banks under its linkage program so far. This
does not include SHGs and women therein, having no bank linkages.



                                                                                                                   57
donors. Therefore, taking stock of resources and capacities that women‟s groups can and bring
through their self help/mutual help initiatives has to be the starting point for building community
resilience.

Climate Change Adaptation and DRR / Development
In Sri Lanka although the national strategies on climate change have been developed to address the
issues related to climate change adaptation, DRR and development strategies are yet to recognize the
CCA aspects in their strategies.

The district and divisional authorities who are supposed to translate the government strategies into
practices at local level are aware of changing climate. However, these are not reflected in their actions
and they could not clearly spell out what might be expected of them towards acting on it.

At the community level, communities have noticed that climate is changing and the frequency and
severity of the external shocks is on the increase. Notably, they have also adopted many coping
mechanisms or strategies based on their traditional knowledge. The communities expressed however,
that these practices are not sufficient to address the issue. Moreover, the support from the formal
system to address the current issues is absent in the sample communities we looked at.




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Recommendations
Gaps in Policy

      Share the national disaster management policy in India with wider civil society, institutions,
       platforms as well as international organizations in order to seek their ideas and inputs for
       mainstreaming gender equity concerns in DRR initiatives in the country.
      Make sure that the Sri Lankan national disaster management plan and the national emergency
       response plan for the country is formulated as a matter of priority through a participatory /
       consultative / multi-sectored process that takes into account the needs, interests, skills and
       capacities of various community groups including the gender considerations.
      Shift the conceptual standpoint of DRR / DM policies in both countries away from seeing
       women solely as a vulnerable group, or as homemakers, or to be protected, or as vessels of
       cultural prejudices.
      Move the conceptual focus on women beyond addressing women‟s vulnerabilities and
       gender-specific needs to incorporate / increase / support their skills, resources and capacities.
      Acknowledge and incorporate current women‟s capacities, skills and particular contributions
       to DRR / DM and facilitate further empowerment of women through specific DRR / DM
       policies and programmes.
      Consider pressing issues in DRR / DM such as maintaining social networks, having access to
       markets, schools, health care on the one hand, as well as access to equipment, capital, training
       for restarting livelihoods on the other as both as gender-specific and community needs.
      Upscale community disaster resilience fund (CDRF) initiatives in India to facilitate the direct
       access by at-risk communities, particularly by organised groups of women to fund their own
       self-identified areas and priorities for reducing their disaster risk.
      Officially recognize budgetary provision for women‟s empowerment strategies as an essential
       feature of all DRR initiatives at the district and sub-district levels of the two countries.
      Set up special DM Transitional Funds as part of development policy to give temporary
       assistance in accessing markets and equipment, capital and training for restarting livelihoods.
      Recognize and address the specific needs of female-headed households.
      Make sure that women‟s losses of assets and resources such as jewellery, cash and household
       assets in disasters are recorded and compensated.
      Recognize and promote micro-insurance schemes for risk transferring
Planning

      Incorporate women‟s resilience building and recovery strategies in the DRR plan so as to
       identify and scale up successful initiatives and ensure their transfer and scaling up.
      Make sure that disaster recovery and reconstruction programmes are viewed as turning points
       for the transformation of social and gender relations within communities by addressing the
       strategic and practical concerns of women.
      Address gender issues around poverty reduction and development issues in order to building
       resilient and equitable communities.



                                                                                                      59
      Develop action plans and workable strategies at all levels (govt / NGO / community) taking
       into account women‟s opinions, participation, representation, contributions, specific needs
       and capacity-building.
      Ensure that women‟s support groups and social networks can be maintained even in situations
       of displacement given that they involve other benefits as well such as emotional support and
       childcare.
      Ensure that indigenous / traditional knowledge and disaster preparedness strategies of local
       communities are taken into account in official action plans – especially women‟s knowledge.

Institutions / Structures

      Make sure that Indian governmental institutions relating to DRR / DM have at least 30%
       women members.
      Ensure that these institutions work closely with self help groups (SHGs) of women and their
       federations as their local partners.
      Make sure appointments to the Sri Lankan government‟s decision-making institutions of DRR
       / DM target 50% women‟s participation as well as the inclusion of other marginalized groups.
      Include community women in all levels of governance and decision-making in DRR / DM as
       their experiences as key stakeholders and first respondents to disasters need to be accounted
       for in DRR / DM strategies.
      Promote women and local government partnerships for DRR so as to ensure that women‟s
       priorities, skills and potentials are brought into governance and thereby reduce disaster risks.
      Establish a permanent institutional mechanism / taskforce within core DRR / DM local
       structures (funded by the DM Transitional Fund) that can facilitate in the maintenance of
       existing livelihoods and initiate new opportunities during the transition period of displaced
       communities.
      Appoint gender facilitators (including professionals and para-professionals within districts
       such as extension workers, health workers and others) by: a) creating awareness on gender
       issues b) orienting and guiding women‟s participation and c) ensuring women‟s gender
       priorities are surfaced and included in DRR interventions.
      Create institutional mechanisms such as local committees to ensure that women are oriented
       to undertake their respective roles in DRR.




DRR / DM Practices

      Ensure that gender analysis (in terms of gender roles / responsibilities, relations / needs /
       capacities / vulnerabilities / access / control etc.) is undertaken in all DRR / DM initiatives to
       ensure responsive and effective development.
      Analyse the climate risks men and women are facing and their coping strategies for these,
       especially food security.
      Make sure that gender training is given not only to the communities but also to those involved
       in DRR and DM planning and implementation in both the Sri Lankan and Indian context.
                                                                                                       60
      Make special provisions in gender training and in implantation efforts to combat gender /
       cultural / religious bias that preclude women‟s participation in DRR and DM as well as access
       to training, livelihoods and other resources.
      Ensure that other gender-based organizational practices (such as gender planning / gender
       training / gender budgeting / gender auditing / gender-based monitoring and evaluation) are
       also included as mandatory practices in planning, design and implementation of all DRR
       initiatives at the national and state levels.
      Institute gender-sensitive capacity-building training programmes for DRR / DM officials (at
       all levels) so that they in turn can implement training programmes for community women that
       can provide expertise on undertaking gender risk analyses.
      Ensure that community led DRR processes address gender concerns and differentials in the
       participation of the affected communities through inputs such as gender training / gender
       vulnerability and capacity analyses / etc.
      Undertake baseline DRR studies of the gender-differentiated effects of natural disasters and
       develop appropriate solutions so as to ensure that the changes in women‟s work time and
       conditions due to disaster-related aid and entitlement programmes do not further exacerbate
       gender inequities.
      Ensure that local women‟s experiences and expertise in grassroots vulnerability and risk
       reduction is invested in disaster preparedness, response, and resilience and adaptive capacity
       building.
      While accounting for religious sensitivities, ensure that DRR / DM efforts make all /
       affirmative attempts to include community women at all levels of planning and
       implementation.
      Make sure women‟s legal issues especially in terms of property rights are adequately
       understood and addressed in DRR / DM efforts in Sri Lanka.
      Undertake capacity assessment exercises with women so as to yield a clear articulation of not
       only their vulnerabilities, but also their local risk reduction initiatives and capacities.

DRR / DM Projects and Programmes

      Identify differential vulnerabilities, and facilitate initiatives to strengthen the adaptive
       capacity of poor women and men.
      In India, institute a national programme to empower organized groups of grassroots women
       (such as SHGs and their federations) through structural linkages to the Panchayati Raj
       Institutions (PRIs) (or institutions of local self government) as a country wide DRR initiative.
      In Sri Lanka, make sure that relocation programmes avoid areas that are high risk vis-à-vis the
       environment, wildlife, and hostilities from existing communities.
      Given the increase in alcoholism and domestic violence in times of crisis as recorded in Sri
       Lanka, ensure that there are mandatory programmes to address these issues inbuilt in overall
       DRR / DM initiatives.
      Alongside mainstreaming gender concerns and women‟s participation into official DRR and
       DM efforts, explore the possibilities of all women forums (like the all women Gram Sabhas
       experimented in Maharashtra) for women to learn about and understand DRR and CCA in
       terms of its potential to address gender concerns.

                                                                                                      61
     Make sure that Sri Lankan mental health programmes actively seek / identify mental health
      issues of both men and women in the community.
     Use existing community-level disaster preparedness and resilience strategies of grassroots
      communities as a resource that can create social safety nets as locally developed strategies
      will acknowledge and address vulnerabilities that external agents will not be able to identify).
     Design community empowerment programmes as a step-by-step process that guides women
      and communities through the awareness, risk and vulnerability assessment, prioritization and
      implementation of risk reduction solutions linked to development priorities (the process needs
      to be clearly sequenced and benchmarked in terms of results/outcomes for gender equity).
     Formulate viable livelihood programmes for female-headed households that take into account
      their demands on time and capacities.

     Ensure micro credit programmes are coupled with micro insurance schemes to transfer the
      risk
Women’s Groups

     Officially recognize organized groups of grassroots Indian / Sri Lankan women as community
      institutions for channelling disaster risk reduction (DRR) funds at local levels provided they
      are representative of community diversity.
   Formalize roles of women‟s groups to give them a scope and clear roles in the DRR
    continuum.




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References
Anderson, M. and Woodrow, P. (1989) Rising from the Ashes – Development Strategies in Times of
Disaster, Boulder and San Francisco, Westview Press.

Ariyabandu and Wickramasinghe (2004) Gender Dimensions in Disaster Management – A Guide for
South Asia, Colombo, Intermediate Technology Development Group.

DevTech Systems Inc. (2004) Gender Assessment for USAID Sri Lanka

Disaster Management Act 2005- A Status Report, August 2004, Government of India Ministry of
Home affairs National Disaster Management Division.

Disaster Management Act 2005, Government of India Human Rights Commission (2005)

GOI-UNDP Disaster Risk management Programme Good Practices in Community Based Disaster
Risk Management, (2002-2009)

Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: I S D R International Strategy for Disaster Reduction,
Extract from the final report of the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (18-22 January 2005,
Kobe, Hyogo, Japan), International Strategy for Disaster Reduction www.unisdr.org.

Initial National Communication under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) Sri Lanka, 2000.

March, C. Smyth, I and Mukopadhyay, M. (1999) A Guide to Gender Analysis Frameworks, Oxford,
Oxfam.

Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights / supported by the United Nations Development
Programme (2005), Towards a Safer Sri Lanka – Road Map for Disaster Risk Management

Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights / supported by the United Nations Development
Programme (2006), Towards a Safer Sri Lanka – Road Map for Disaster Risk Management, Vol. 2:
Project Proposals

National Disaster Management Authority Government of India (2007) National Disaster
Management- Guidelines Preparation of State Disaster Management Plans.

Overholt C. A. Anderson, M. and Brazeau Howarth (1992) A Framework for People-oriented
Planning in Refugee Situations Taking Account of Men, Women and Children: A Practical Planning
Tool for Refugee Workers, Geneva, UNHCR.

RedR India (2007) UNICEF Led Community Based Disaster Preparedness in West Bengal (External
Evaluation) Final Draft

National Institute of Disaster Management, Ministry of Home Affairs (December 2004) Training
Module for Officials of Women and Child Department.

GOI-UNDP Disaster Management Programme (June 2008) Training of Trainers Manual on Gender
Mainstreaming in Disaster Risk Management

UNDP (2008) Women as Equal Partners, UNDP Case Studies DRM Programme.




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Abbreviation
CBOs      – Community Based Organizations
CCA       – Climate Change Adaptation
CDO       –Community Development Officer
CDRF      – National Community Disaster Resilience Fund
CMG       – Crisis Management Group
CRC       – Central Relief Commissioner
CRF       – Calamity Relief Fund
DDMA      – District Disaster Management Authority
DDMCU                – District Disaster Management Coordination Units
DM        – Disaster Management
DMTs      – Disaster Management Teams
DMUs      – Disaster Management Units (DMUs)
DRM       – Disaster Risk Management
DRR       – Disaster Risk Reduction
DS        – Divisional Secretary/Secretariat
DWLC      – Department of wildlife Conservation
FGD       – Focus Group Discussions
GA        – Government Agent
GN        – Grama Niladhari
GO        – Government Organization
GoI       – Government of India
GPs       – Gram Panchayats
GSDMA                – Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority
HFA       – Hyogo Framework for Action
IGP       – Inspector General of Police
INGOs     – International Non-Governmental Organizations
KPIs      – Key Person Interviews
MDGs      – Millennium Development Goals
MDMHR     – Ministry of Disaster Management & Human Rights
MF        – Micro Finance
MOH       – Medical Officer of Health
MoHA      – Ministry of Home Affairs - India
NAADRR    – National Alliance for Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction
NBRO      – National Building Research Organization
NAPCC     – National Action Plan on Climate Change
NATCOM    - Initial National Communication
NCCF      – National Calamity Contingency Fund
NCDM      – National Council for Disaster Management
NCMC      – National Crisis Management Committee
NCRMP     – National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project
NDMA      – Disaster Management Authority
NERMP     – National Earthquake Risk Mitigation Project
NGOs      – Non-Governmental Organizations
NIDM      – National Institute of Disaster Management
PHCs      – Primary Health Centers
PHI       – Public Health Inspector
SAARC     – South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
SDMA      – State Disaster Management Authority
SDO       – Samurdhi Development Officer
SHG       – Self Help Groups
SSP       – Swayam Shikshan Prayog
TOR       – Terms of Reference
UNFCCC    – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
VDCs      – Village Development Committees
VDMCs     – Village Disaster Management Committees




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