Rebuilding Lives – Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation

19 Jan 2021

January 19 is celebrated as the National Disaster Response Force Raising Day.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was constituted in 2006, a year after the enactment of the Disaster Management Act of 2005. The Act was a result of the strongly felt need for a disaster management plan that would enable swift and impactful action when disaster struck. India had suffered several disasters such as the Gujarat earthquake in 2001 and the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 which underscored the need for a disaster management plan and force.

The industry has always been at the forefront of providing relief and rehabilitation during disasters. To encourage and enable industry support, the government, in 2019, made further amendments in the CSR legislation to include disaster management, including relief, rehabilitation & reconstruction, as CSR activities.  

The CII Foundation has been working closely with the government and other stakeholders to provide disaster relief and rehabilitation since its launch in 2011. In 2013, when Uttarakhand was ravaged by floods affecting Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag (which also has the Kedarnath Valley), Chamoli, Tehri and Pithoragarh, the CII Foundation reached out to families to provide relief material such as tents, water purifiers, solar lanterns and hygiene items. Subsequently, it reconstructed schools, amongst other rehabilitation initiatives.

Over the decades, the CII Foundation has been playing a key role in disaster relief and rehabilitation across the country. During the floods in Kerala in 2018, which caused severe damage to more than 1 lakh buildings and displaced over 1.4 million people relief was provided to 20,000 families in an exercise which involved the setting up of 60 relief camps in 10 districts, three emergency response centres and transporting 400 tonnes of relief material from across India for the flood-affected. Rehabilitation initiatives post the 2018 floods continued with up-grading Primary Health Centres (PHCs). Facilities at 3 PHCs across three villages, which cater to more than 30,000 families, have been enhanced.  Additionally, dialysis machines have been installed in First-Line Treatment Centers, benefitting 150 patients per month.

In 2020, the outbreak of Coronavirus disrupted lives across India. As the virus spread, its devastating economic and social impact multiplied. Large swathes of migrant labour embarked on a long and arduous journey to their villages in rural India; offices moved quickly to a work-from-home model; economic activity slowed down, almost to a standstill in several sectors, and the health challenges faced by many were daunting.

Covid-19 was a disaster at a national level.

The CII Foundation, along with CII, and affiliate associations such as SIAM and ACMA stepped in to provide relief across 28 states of India. Ration kits, essential medical supplies and creating awareness about health, hygiene and the importance of social distancing were undertaken to benefit almost 80 lakh people.

Even as the relief work continued, the CII Foundation began focussed projects to deliver health interventions in tier II and tier III towns, supplementing the government’s efforts. The aim was to provide direct support in healthcare and strengthen community resilience of the marginalised.

The CII Foundation started the Tele-ICU initiative in select hospitals in Haryana and Maharashtra. Tele-ICU is a remote ICU patient monitoring system with real-time, two-way audio-visuals and smart alerts, operational 24*7 allowing doctors to provide expert advice to patients in remote areas, which would not have been possible otherwise. The Tele-ICU initiative supplements the efforts of the existing healthcare system in the diagnosis and treatment of Covid-19 patients. The current systems are, in several locations, stretched with scarce personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as trained medical/paramedical resources to handle the situation.

CII Foundation, with the support of members, currently has this initiative underway in four hospitals in Haryana for 95 ICU beds and 108 ICU beds across five locations in Maharashtra.

To help the industry prepare better for disasters, the CII Foundation is also bringing out a region-specific newsletter covering select states within the region. This newsletter carries information about the disasters the region is prone to, thereby highlighting risks for the industry to prepare it better. The newsletter also shares international best practices in disaster management.

As the world grapples with climate change, economic slowdown due to Coronavirus, illiteracy and poverty, natural and man-made disasters can cause massive loss of life and livelihoods. The need of the hour is to be better prepared to deal with any disaster and join hands to help people affected by disasters.

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