When disasters strike in rural remote community set ups, livelihoods are affected, supply chains disrupted, buildings destroyed and infrastructure damaged, coupled with fears of some areas remaining inundated for longer periods. However, such disasters also play a key role in bringing communities together, led by DMCs, in searching for lasting solutions. Therefore, collective efforts by local communities needs to be recognised.
Such recognition include appreciation of community efforts affected by disasters, especially women, who are always the first responders whenever disasters strike. They have continuously been on the frontline for response, preceding any external support.
This was clearly demonstrated with the recent floods experienced in Tangulbei, the local organisations; Disaster Management Committees and Tangulbei Women Network through their collective efforts mobilised the local community to support the affected families. Instead of resettling the affected families in isolated camps, the women quickly mobilised other families and relatives andfriendsto take-in affected families through a non-conditional integration for the twenty four totally displaced families. They provided immediate nutrition, clothing and shelter needs, as well as offering psychosocial support to help the affected families cope with the aftershocks of the losses and panic as a result of the disaster. Most families lost all their household items, stocks in their shops, and farmlands.
To supplement their efforts, the local ActionAid partners contacted the relevant government departments and other stakeholders working in the county support with the response. Support from some of the county stakeholders came in days after the community had already responded – clearly demonstrating the need to build capacity of local communities in handling disasters.
ActionAid, for a long time, has supported its local partners, including the DMC through capacity building on disaster management and response. Through direct engagements in previous response initiatives, the partners have strengthen their knowledge and skills on how to quickly support vulnerable community members during disasters such as floods. Their quick response in Tangulbei is a true testament of resilience, and remains commendable.
70% of the businesses submerged by the flood water at Tangulbei Centre belong to women. “Ilibidi tujitolee na ujuzi tunayo kutokana na mafunzo ya ActionAid kusaidia waathiriwa wa mafuriko (We had to make sacrifices and immediately support the affected families building on the training received from ActionAid),” said Ms. Jenipher Kibon, the Chairperson of Tangulbei Women Network.
Efforts from the local communities and partners in Tangulbei demonstrate that there is an urgent need to shift power and access to resources for the most affected communities that are most at risk to participate, influence, and make decisions on risk informed development policies and practices.
For this to be achieved, local communities need to have their capacity continuously strengthened on leadership and accountability to respond, adapt and remain resilientwhen disasters strike.