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Dalit Watch Report on Bihar Flood

by udaya — last modified 2009-04-06 14:24

NCDHR conducted an extensive survey in 11 districts among the total 19 affected by flood in Bihar and brought out a Dalit Watch Report .

For Bihar flood is an annual disaster for at last 28 years or so. This year’s flood affected 19 districts in the eastern part of the state. Dalit constitute 15.7% of eh population in Bihar.
Previous experience in disasters like Tsunami made it clear that the relief and rehabilitation process in the wake of any disaster is beset with the evils of caste based discriminations.
Immediately after the state was hit with another flood situation an 11 members team from   various Dalit organizations including NCDHR visited the affected area.
NCDHR team, which closely monitored the R& R program, found that Dalits are neglected in the   whole process.
We immediately conducted a rapid survey covering 11 districts .The data from the survey reveals that Dalit population has been affected in greater proportion compared to other population. Based on the survey we prepared a Dalit Watch report, which gives a comprehensive picture of the plight of affected Dalits .  
This can be attributed to the historical and current vulnerabilities of their habitations, housing and livelihood opportunities. The extent of fully damaged houses while being high among Dalits, their access and presence in the temporary shelters is negligible raising questions on the quality of their protection and safety during the flood situation. The lack of adequate housing and protection has serious implications to their access to all relief materials including food, clothing and other essentials. This places infants, children, elderly, pregnant women and others in vulnerable situations without access to minimum facilities and services. It also raise serious questions on how much of the loss and damage among these vulnerable sections are recorded and what will be their future access to recovery and rehabilitation.
The fact that despite damaged houses, Dalits are not in the temporary shelters and are making their own arrangements for housing, however bad, is an indicator of the existing prejudices and stereotypes about them in society. It is also an indicator of their inability to access entitlement and demand their rights though promised and made available by the state and other resource agencies.

The incidence of loss ranging from loss of certificates, documents, food grains and animals is high among Dalit households. Their vulnerability to illnesses is also high.

While on one hand the loss and damage among Dalits may not be quantifiable in terms of assets and productivity, the survey reveals that the floods have almost devastated their assets completely, removing all support mechanisms. Once again a section of people who are excluded in society find no justice in recovering their lives from the disaster. This demands new prerogative in assessment and compensation, relief distribution and rehabilitation in disaster management.




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