Thursday, May 19, 2005

Update 9

News from the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India

1. Asia Pacific Congress on Disaster Mitigation
2. Sustainable Livelihood accompaniment at kancheepuram
3. Tsunami Relief Operation covering Girijans – Sullurpet & Tada
4. Voices from the community – Expressions of a 11yr old Girl
5. ACT Evaluation team visit

1. Asia Pacific Congress on Disaster Mitigation, Capacity Building for Effective Intervention April 1 & 2, 2005 at Hotel Savera , Chennai, India


The two day congress on Disaster Mitigation held on 1 & 2 April 2005 at Chennai, India, was attended by delegates from around the globe. The aim of the congress was to bring together International organizations and experts who have been active in Post Tsunami relief and recovery, in order to share experiences, and prepare and plan new ways of strengthening and co-coordinating humanitarian disaster assistance for more rapid recovery and rehabilitation of affected communities.

224 delegates registered for the congress including 62 delegates from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Germany, Sweden, Canada and USA. There were representations from field staff, project managers, administrators and donor agencies.

The proceedings of the congress not only highlighted the generic lessons that have been learned from the Tsunami and other natural disasters, but also served as an eye-opener towards the realities of the tsunami’s aftermath. The success of the congress can be measured by the satisfaction expressed by the delegates, in the Book of Comments, and expressed in the Valedictory, of having had an enriching and learning experience.

Inaugurating the conference, Shri Surjit Singh Barnala, His Excellency the Governor of Tamilnadu expressed his empathy for those afflicted and his whole-hearted appreciation for the good work carried out by the relief agencies working in the field. He also emphasized the need to stand united during times of disasters in order that we might cope with them better.

The Relief Commissioner, Government of Tamilnadu, Mrs. C K Ghariyali lauded ADEPT’s international effort to deal with the challenge of preparation for and mitigation of natural disasters and stressed the need for documentation of all the relief and help activities in order to build capacity. Dr. K Rajarathnam, chairman of the National Lutheran Heath and Medical Board expressed his opinion that in order to face calamities such as the tsunami, not only is networking of donors and beneficiaries required but also development ideologies.

A Handbook on “Disaster Psychosocial Response” published by ADEPT was released by His Excellency, the Governor.

The congress got off to good start with a Keynote address by Rolf Mueggenburg, Continental Director, CBM International on “ Need for Knowledge Management for Capacity Building”. The paper highlighted the fact that helping the survivors is one thing but knowing how to help them is quite another matter. Citing many examples, Mr. Mueggenburg pointed out that wastage of resources during disaster relief efforts is magnified many fold because relief agencies rush in without adequate knowledge about cultural, geographic, administrative and governance issues that are specific to that region. Mr. Mueggenburg proposed an organized effort at knowledge management for effective capacity building for disaster preparedness and mitigation.

This was followed by a second Keynote address on “Importance of Coordination and Control of efforts by relief agencies” by Dr. Gerard Jacobs, University of South Dakota, USA. Citing examples from recent disasters, Dr. Jacobs’ address stressed that without co-ordination, relief agencies would actually end up doing more harm than good. Dr. Jacobs proposed that in each country there needs to be an identified agency or NGO responsible for coordination of all relief efforts.

The pre-lunch documentary film “Re-establishing lives in the tsunami affected community” presented a moving account of how the Tsunami has affected the fishing communities in Cuddalore district of Tamilnadu, India, the efforts of ADEPT to provide Medical and Psycho-social relief in the immediate post impact phase, and the need for long term psycho-social intervention.

The afternoon session commenced with the presentation of country reports. A representative from each of the South East Asian countries - Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India - came forward to share their insights on their country specific experience, and the innovative methods that they had devised to deal with the emergency. The session was an eye opener to many who, till then, had not viewed the Tsunami or their own efforts beyond their own limited geographic perspective.

This was followed by a session on “Networking for effective intervention” with a concept paper by Mrs. Gunawathy Fernandez, CBM SARO(S). Mrs. Fernandez stressed the need for networking of all resources for efficient response to any natural disaster. The paper raised a plethora of thought provoking questions that generated a lively discussion. The net outcome was the consensus that the post tsunami issues provide a window of opportunity to change the pre existing situation in favor of greater gender equity, equality and social inclusion, and the Recovery phase provides opportunity for sustainable development. It was agreed that both the above can be achieved through networking which is vital for ……
effective lobbying encouraging civil societies to adapt to the most appropriate practices,enhancing stakeholders participation,advocacy, pressuring and harmonizing.
Avoiding duplication and wastage of resources. improving negotiating skills and developing smart partnership

The day concluded with a panel discussion on post-tsunami livelihood issues chaired by Mr. William Stanley, of IRDWSI which focused on the problems of the coastal fisher folk who had lost everything in the tsunami’s onslaught.

The second day opened with a demonstration of ADEPT’s Educational and Knowledge Management Portal. Queries relating to the portal were handled and the type and nature of information that would be displayed on it explained.

Dr. Joseph O Prewitt, American Red Cross, then delivered a Keynote address on “Challenges and Lessons learned in the tsunami”. He pointed out that the main challenges were:
Integration of existing technology to the ground reality
Application of existing needs assessment tools, which are based on a deficit model, to measure individual and community resilience markers.
Cultural, Linguistic, and Technical adaptation
Capacity Building for community based mental health
Development of high interest low content Instructional process
Transference of a knowledge base
Development of indicators that measure knowledge, behavioral and attitude change

The concept paper “Psycho-Social Engineering as a means of re-establishing lives in the Tsunami affected community” by Dr. U. Gauthamadas, Director, ADEPT, generated a lively discussion. The paper pointed out that one of the challenges of post-Tsunami long term psycho-social intervention was to deal with Disillusionment, Discontent, Communal jostling, Non-productive behavior, Rumors, misinformation, and social support deterioration that are rampant in the Tsunami affected communities. This requires an intervention model that differs significantly from the traditional psychosocial model. Such a model can be found in the concept of Social Engineering. The discussion was spearheaded by a heated debate on the negative light that has been thrown on the concept of social engineering in the last three decades predominantly by political events in the USA and software hacking also originating in USA. The plenary then discussed the usefulness of the concept in deterring / dealing with social support deterioration in the Tsunami affected communities. The Chairperson for the session, Dr. Mishra, WHO, concluded that the process was most applicable and worth exploring irrespective of terminology.

The pre-lunch session on “Medical Relief Experiences”, chaired by Dr. Paul Francis, WHO, provided interesting insights into advanced relief work carried out by various organizations including UNICEF, and the Government of Tamilnadu, India. Much interest was generated by the innovative mass burial system developed by the Directorate of Health, Nagapatinam, preventing the outbreak of major epidemics that were predicted in the aftermath of the Tsunami.

The post-lunch session was opened by a concept paper on “Co-ordination of relief activities” by Sujatha Bordoloi, American Red Cross. The paper laid out the need for coordination, the sectors that need to be coordinated, and the various factors that govern coordination. Many of the delegates welcomed the paper and its relevance to capacity building.

The session on “Disaster Preparedness” saw an elaborate presentation by K. G. Mathaikutty, Lutheran World Service, on the issue of rural preparedness. The Rev Chandran Paul Martin Executive Secretary UELCI presented a paper and lead a discussion on “Community Dynamics in the Aftermath of the Tsunami” explaining the challenges and processes of exclusion. He brought to light the predicament of Dalits in the disaster.

The panel discussion on “Community Dynamics, Psycho-Social Engineering, and Rights Issues” with a panel comprising of representatives from the visually challenged, psychiatrists, media and communication specialists, donor agencies, field workers, consultants to the government and people from the affected fishing community demonstrated the success of the congress with a full house and a stimulating and lively discussion that had to be brought to a close due to time constraint. The sum of the discussion was that rights issues and community dynamics are very complex and have to be studied, and that community engineering is necessary to deal with such dynamics.

The congress was brought to a close by a valedictory ceremony with feedback from a representative from each participating country. The common thread through the comments was the learning generated by the congress and the need to have similar programs at a local level in each of the affected countries so that more people in the field can be benefited.


2) Sustainable Livelihood accompaniment at kancheepuram


UELCI Continued addressing the livelihood issues in the Tamilnadu coast, in the course of its rehabilitation programme after tsunami, distributed another 20 livelihood kits at Kancheepuram, each livelihood kit includes one fiber boat, set of nets and one engine.

On May 4th Rev. Chandran Paul Martin, Executive secretary, UELCI with the UELCI team visited the places in Kancheepuram and distributed the Livelihood kits to the Self Help groups, at four places 1. Palayanadu Kuppam, 2. Pudunadu Kuppam, 3. Perintheruvu Kuppam, 4. Angalamman Kuppam.

Mr. Sekar who is coordinating the livelihood programme at Kancheepuram, said “till now it was so difficult for the community to live without any livelihood and since there was no other source of income”, and he added “now we don’t need to wait for government help which always stuck up with the procedural issues, I appreciate the NGOs work here which responded very fast and supported the community”.

During Rev. Martin’s visit he identified the need of training for the community in Entrepreneurial Development, he requested Mr. Joseph, coordinator, SWA P to take up this and organize the EDP programme and also planned for the psycho social counseling programme in the remaining three villages at Kancheepuram..

This programme ignited lot of hopes in the community for their future and they were very positive to go forward with their normal business. UELCI was well received by the community, and witnessed the programme by the men, women, and children from the community and also the local panchayat leaders including its president Mr. Desinghe, Mrs Ramani Annamalai, Mr Velayudam, Mr. Sivaloam, Mrs malathi Sridhar and Mr. Shekhar


3) Food Security programme covering ‘Girijans’ – Sullurpet & Tada, Andhra Pradesh


Girijans are scheduled tribes living in the most backward areas of different parts of the country. They are highly neglected communities and not even included in the government welfare schemes. Their very existence is not acknowledged. They are illiterates and live in abject poverty lacking food, cloth and shelter. Health, hunger, education, castism are some of the burning issues affecting the Girijans. Many times they are not even treated as “Human beings”.

Girijan families living around the pulicat lake depend on the allied fishing like net making, boat repairing etc. Though they are not directly involved in fishing, yet their source of income is only through the marketing of fish- both fresh and dry. Since there was no fishing at all since the end of December last year, people suffer from starvation. The government relief measures were undertaken for the fisher folk communities. But no one bothered about the plight of the poor Girijans. Under this circumstance with the help of the local government and some NGOs it was brought to the notice of UELCI seeking their attention on this forsaken community of the society. A base line survey was conducted and the government endorsed the list with a note that they were not in receipt of any relief assistance from government or from any organization. Hence UELCI decided to provide dry ration to 309 Girijan families in Tada & sullurpet, Andhra Pradesh.

All the items were purchased and packed with the help of local panchayats and youth groups. The distribution took place on the premises of SALC Sullurpet parish in the presence of SALC Bishop-President the Rev Simon Manoharam, former Bishop, Executive members, UELCI representatives, government officials, local panchayats and community people. It was also distributed in some of the villages.

The UELCI team was convinced in doing such relief activity though delayed. Hope these forbidden communities also would receive the due attention and be helped to survive as Human beings with Dignity.


4) Voices from the community – Expressions of a 11yr old Girl – A Poem
The Original was written in Tamil, the following is a translation


If feelings can be words I will be able to tell you
My dear Ocean
How much I loved you!
How many times I came to play with you! Even without getting permission.
I cried for the beatings I got.
You made me alone to cry that day.
But today you made thousands of people cry taking away their houses, household articles, kith and kin……
You have deserted us!
You the sustainer of our lives have taken away our lives.
So I hate you! I hate you so much!
- ---- ---- ---- ---- --
- ---- ---- ---- ---- --
Yet, I want to thank you Tsunami!
You know why?
You brought so many people to take part in my life.
So many people whom I had never seen before or even dreamt about helped us to rebuild our lives.
For this I thank you Tsunami!
Now I am not angry with you.

I love you my dear ocean!

Kokila (11 yrs)
Karan street
A village in Tranquebar
South India.


5. ACT Evaluation Team visit


The ACT evaluation team traveled the length and the breadth of the Tsunami affected areas in India from the11th to the 17th of April 05. The three member team comprising of Mr Hermen Ketel, Ms Kate and Dr Bhat visited and studied the operations of all the 3 ACT partners CASA, UELCI & the LWSI and had the following remarks to make
“As a disaster on the scale of the tsunami was neither within the preparedness systems of any humanitarian agency nor of the ordinary people living along the Indian South-East coast this mission was asked to look into an entirely unexpected as well as unprecedented relief operation. The mere scale and swiftness of the operations impressed even the most professional of the disaster relief professionals.”

Compiled by: Troty (Nava Kiran)
Tsunami Information Center – UELCI.
May 17 2005

This material may be reproduced freely provided credit is given to UELCI.

The United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India is a communion of eleven member churches spread out mostly in the East and Central India including North Eastern states with a membership of approximately 2 million. Each member church has its own unique cultural and historical context, with different mission histories. The communion was founded in 1926 as a Federation of Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India and went through a metamorphosis and now is known as the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India.