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India: Church-run NGO trains villagers to brace for natural disasters

Disaster task force training in Bihar, India (Photo supplied)

As the monsoons approach and flood-prone areas in Bihar, a northern Indian state, brace for another round of seasonal pain, some 250 people from the poorest and disaster-prone areas of Bihar are ready for action.

They have been oriented in the ways of helping their families and neighbors cope with emergencies created by natural disasters, thanks to the efforts of one of Bihar's oldest church-run NGOs.

A state like Bihar regularly hit by floods, earthquakes, droughts, storms and many other forms of natural disasters needs a continuous and integrated process of planning, coordination, and implementation of risk-prevention measures, says Father James Shekhar, director of Bihar Water Development Society (BWDS).

In keeping with the mission of the Church is accompanied and being present in the lives of the people, the social action wing of Patna Archdiocese collaborates with several organizations through its social action and development agencies. 

The Patna-based NGO organized task force training from June 21 to 23 under the Global Programme project. The aim was to establish disaster response teams at the village level.

Two hundred and fifty villagers from the ecologically vulnerable areas of Nawada District attended the programme at Gram Nirman Mandal in Sokhodewra block.

Dr. Shrawan Kumar Singh trained participants who came from 20 villages like Shivpur, Bijho, Sokho and Gauraiya.

The training is comprised of inputs and hands-on exercises, techniques to deal with emergencies such as resuscitation of drowned victims and other first-aid tips were practiced. 

The use of readily available materials to make aids for rescue and survival in times of emergency was much appreciated. Practical survival and rescuing skills, like how to use a towel or any cloth to lift an injured person when no stretcher is available.

Shiv Kumar Das, one of the animators of the Global Programme, said, “The participants had hardly any knowledge about regulatory and physical measures to prevent the losses caused by disasters. Through this training program, they learned how to help people and rescue them in a situation of disaster.”

“As we are experiencing extreme weather conditions increasing due to climate change, more people are losing their lives and livelihood. We can help them to survive by training them. They will learn how to prevent substantial losses from any disaster events,” said John D’cruz, the program coordinator of the Nawada unit. 

This program was about that. Natural disasters cannot be stopped from happening but now these people can at least help each other if they get in that situation,” he added.  

The Global Programme has been running in Nawada for a year now. It builds awareness through a variety of training programs. - Frank Krishner 


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