Flood-hit Belagavi: A double whammy for socially-vulnerable groups


Caste, gender and age made sects more vulnerable during floods

Thousands were displaced when floods hit the border district of Belagavi, but there is a clear social pattern in who was left most deprived, says a study by scientists of the Jamsetji Tata School of Disaster Studies (JTSDS) of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai.

The field study conducted in the district shows that floods hit the vulnerable sections of society like Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, women, children, and the elderly. The study was submitted to the State government by Peehu Pardeshi and Lavanya Shanbhogue Arvind. assistant professors from JTSDS. The study points out that existing inequalities and vulnerabilities in society were amplified in the post-flood situation.

Most SC and ST colonies are isolated from the main village. Several are in low-lying areas that are flood prone. Requests by the residents to shift their colonies to higher areas have fallen on deaf ears, says the study.

This pattern was confirmed, for instance, by a visit to Siddheshwar Nagar Dalit colony in Ankali village near Chikkodi. “Most of them lived in rented houses or kuchcha homes. When they lost their houses, they were not eligible for compensation,” Ms. Arvind said.

The study observes that children suffered disproportionately in several ways. Very often the relief material provided to children did not contain articles such as clothes. Schools were closed for upto a month, thus robbing them of productive time spent in education. Owing to outmigration, there was break in schooling and several organisations reported that school dropouts had increased. Pointing to the psychological impact, the study says children were most hit by disruption of power and potable water supply, fear of water, and painful memories of destruction.

The study makes a particular mention of pregnant, lactating mothers and newborn children facing great risk. Their movements during rescue and relief operations were extremely traumatic and lack of nutritional support immediately after rescue amplified health risks. Likewise, elderly with mobility issues and existing health issues suffered during the evacuation process. These were also the groups most susceptible to water-borne communicable diseases.

Ms. Arvind said the focus of the government should particularly be on these vulnerable groups. TISS has offered to involve in the post-flood relief efforts by working with the government at various levels like assessing vulnerabilities and framework for loss and damage assessment.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 1:38:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/its-a-double-whammy-for-socially-vulnerable-groups/article30300155.ece

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