Disaster Watch aid grassroots women’s collectives to exchange learn and evaluate disaster response initiatives and the performance of government and aid agencies.
First held in Gujarat in February 2002, a year after the earthquake, when a team of women from disaster sites in Turkey and India travelled there to monitor institutional support for women communities.
In the last decade, grassroots member organizations of the Huairou Commission have devised and demonstrated a portfolio of transformative community-based disaster response practices. Beyond their local practices, however, they share what they know: survivor group to survivor group.
Furthermore, in venues the world over, they explain the common sense and high return of fully incorporating grassroots women’s groups and local communities in the design, search for more forward looking disaster management policies and systems.
Developed and tested in the rescue and recovery phases of four major disasters in three countries, Huairou’s disaster-to-development strategy leads to social innovation, efficient use of local resources, transformation of social and political agendas, and the deepening of a participatory government.
Its strategy, piloted by Swayam Shiksham Prayog and hundreds of grassroots women’s organizations in India , is simple: Engage the full partnership of local people who tend to be intimately knowledgeable about community needs and resources. Grassroots women are particularly valuable to this practice.
Huairou’s process, refined in Maharasthra , India ; Marmara , Turkey ; Gujarat , India ; and on the north coast of Honduras , is empowerment:
» grassroots women gather
» they identify their problems
» they work together, with others in the community and with other grassroots groups to create solutions
» they negotiate partnerships
» they implement solutions
» they continue assuming new roles of leadership and responsibility
» they teach other groups what they’ve learned
The Huairou process has a lasting effect. Grassroots women become social and politically integrated into positions of greater responsibility and authority in the local community and its governance, while the community as a whole develops a culture of resourcefulness.
Of all their campaigns, Huairou members work in Disaster to Development is the most advanced. Not only has the basic model been piloted (Maharasthra, India, 1993) but tested (Gujarat, India, 2001 and Marmara Turkey, 1999). Its principles have been independently demonstrated by the work of the Garifuna people of Honduras .
Huairou now plans to share its members methods with other grassroots organizations and document the lessons learned. Together, they will contribute to the rapidly evolving global discussion on disaster mitigation, management and recovery.
Building on the disaster to development experience of Swayam Shikshan Prayog (India), the Foundation for the Support of Women’s Work (Turkey) and the Comité de Emergencia de Garifuna (Honduras), three new communities with vulnerability to disaster will begin community based planning. The model will include participation by local authorities, emergency aid organizations and grassroots groups as well as designs for the creation of local networks and resource centers.
New groups will document the activities and strategies they initiated to recover after natural disasters and the advocacy methods they have used to hold institutions accountable to measurable goals and standards.
Policy Dialogue and Advocacy
Share new knowledge and grassroots perspectives with current disaster partners, the World Bank, UNISDR and ICLEI. Together, they will launch an expanded coalition that advocates for institutional responses that promote community centered disaster management.