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Promoting safer communities through local accountability and capacity enhancement:

Even before the Tsunami struck the Tamil Nadu coast line, REAL (with the support of UNDP) started a Disaster Management Programme for the poor and the marginalized. Though it is difficult to universalize and institutionalize disaster preparedness for all potential disasters, REAL developed an intervention for capacity development of local communities to participate in Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRR). This was done through a series of training programmes for the entire community to equip them with the basic skills required to face hazard situations like floods, fires, earthquakes, factory accidents, etc. Mapping of the village is the first activity, with an emergency plan identifying safe evacuation routes in case of a disaster. REAL also helps villages to create task forces which have their own special responsibilities such as recovering the bodies, a first aid committee, a shelter committee, a counselling committee and more. Task forces have been formed in 20 villages to ensure effective disaster risk reduction and our aim is to achieve the same in all the villages in the future. In all the 20 villages at present, the communities have developed their own coping mechanisms and strategies to reduce the impact of disaster. Furthermore, the training has been beneficial in equipping the communities to respond and to cope up with even small scale losses such as small floods, droughts, fires and landslides. School based disaster preparedness was also effectively implemented in 15 schools in the tsunami affected areas. Student volunteer teams have been formed and the schools equipped with basic standard mitigation equipment. So far the project has provided training to around 6530 women, children and youth, vulnerable groups, adolescents, and community members in the project area. By investing in grassroots capacity building, REAL has paved the way among the affected communities to address their long-term needs and vulnerabilities, thus building community resilience in the event of future disasters.

Disaster Programme to School Children, in Tanjore and Villupuram District

The School Programme on disaster preparedness was then implemented in 168 schools in the coastal areas Trainings has been provided to the children on the various aspects of disasters and their impacts.

The training covered the topics include Tsunami, cyclone and other hazards in the area, Damage and loss caused by the disaster, Preventive, Preparatory and Mitigation Measures, Coping strategy in the locality and Better ways of disaster response, etc.

This programme has offered disaster-specific learning to the students along with the regular syllabus, increasing their disaster awareness and familiarity with disaster preparedness and school for emergency situations.