Earthquakes in India

Earthquakes in India

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Summary of Events and Activities

It has been two years since the January 26, 2001, earthquake in India that left death and devastation in its wake. As one of the first humanitarian organizations to respond, CARE began providing lifesaving emergency supplies and services to four of the hardest-hit areas of Kutch District. Yet, even after basic needs were met -- and the television crews went home, CARE stayed on the scene to help survivors recover and rebuild. CARE partnered with The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on the long-term recovery, including reconstruction of homes, schools, health clinics and community centers. CARE and FICCI also supported people's ability to earn a living by providing training and support for agriculture and small businesses. Substantial progress has been made in the past 24 months. Now, as the construction of homes and community infrastructure nears completion, CARE work in close collaboration with communities, governments and local organizations to ensure these changes are effective and sustainable.

The Earthquake

As India commemorated its 51st Republic Day on Saturday January 26, a tremendous earthquake struck Gujarat State in the western part of the country. The quake's epicenter was near the town of Bhuj in Kutch District, but tremors from the quake, which registered 7.7 on the Richter scale, were felt deep into Pakistan and as far away as Nepal.

Estimates for the death toll ranged as high as 100,000 people, and buildings and infrastructure in many areas were completely destroyed.

After traveling to Bhuj's worst hit areas, CARE worker Renu Suri described the trauma of survivors immediately following the quake: "Life has come to a complete standstill. There are people roaming about on the roads, so stunned by events that they cannot participate in a discussion about what they need."

The words of Dawood Ismail, an earthquake survivor in Kutch, echo those of Dr. Suri. "There is nothing left between the sky and the earth anymore. Everything has been demolished."

CARE's Response
Early the next morning following the quake, a team of nine disaster experts from CARE's main office in New Delhi was in Gujarat to assess the damage and coordinate relief priorities. Based on this assessment and in close coordination with government agencies, donors and other non-governmental organizations, CARE began an immediate relief effort in four of the most-affected areas of Kutch District: Anjar, Bhachau, Rapar and Bhuj.

Emergency Phase: CARE distributed food and relief kits to about 10,000 families. Each relief kit contained:

  • One tarpaulin, two floor mats and three blankets to protect families from nighttime temperatures dipping below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • One 10-liter jerrycan and 20 water purification tablets to ensure each family a clean water supply for up to three weeks; and
  • One lantern per family to provide light and security. CARE also assembled six medical teams, each consisting of a doctor and paramedic, that were rapidly mobilized to the field to provide medical assistance in the areas most in need. CARE also supplied first-aid equipment and basic medicines to anganwadi (community) centers in the four areas. By the end of February, CARE concluded the emergency phase of its relief activities, benefiting more than 10,000 families (50,000 people). Click here for a summary.

Longer Term Reconstruction Phase:
The extent of damage in Gujarat and the depth of trauma experienced by its residents led CARE to commit to support for a longer-term reconstruction program. CARE partnered with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) through the "FICCI-CARE Gujarat Rehabilitation Project. Together, the organizations implemented an 18- to 24-month reconstruction program in Bhachau, Anjar, Rapar and Bhuj, four of the hardest-hit areas of Gujarat.

As the project nears its completion, here are just some of the achievements:

  • FICCI and CARE have completed 4,982 earthquake resistant houses in 23 villages of Kutch, Gujarat. Each house is 30 square meters and has two rooms, a kitchen and an attached or community toilet. The remaining 18 homes will be completed by March 2003.
  • CARE and FICCI have rebuilt community buildings, such as schools, local government offices and health centers. So far, 15 schools, 10 community centers, 21 anganwadi(daycare) centers, 5 health centers and 12 panchayat ghars (local government offices) are complete. Three additional structures (a community center, a health center and an anganwadi center) are expected to be completed by March 2003.
  • The project is also helping villagers with basic services, such as access to clean drinking water, sanitation and new roads. To address the water shortage in Gujarat, the government is providing an access point at each village entrance; CARE and FICCI are supplying storage tanks and water pipelines. At the request of the villages, the project is also providing more hygienic sewage pipelines as well as village entrance gates to increase safety.
  • To help farmers begin replanting as soon as possible, CARE provided seeds and tools to 1,632 families. We also provided training in organic farming practices to 14 villages, demonstrated drip irrigation for 30 villages and distributed 1,200 irrigation kits.
  • To date, CARE has repaired 54 water-harvesting systems serving 10,500 farming families in 47 villages. In addition, the project expanded drinking water systems in six villages, reducing the distance women have to walk to collect water for their families. The project also revitalized damaged drinking water sources in the villages and supported the repair of 32 common wells serving 3,500 families in 30 villages.
  • The project has successfully introduced rooftop rainwater harvesting, in co-ordination with the ongoing reconstruction of homes. More than 90 rainwater-harvesting structures have been constructed in 30 villages. Approximately 5,000 litres of water can be harvested from each rooftop and stored in a cement tank. Three check dams have also been built.
  • To help villagers rebuild or strengthen their businesses, CARE established nine local business centers for making blocks. CARE provided resources and assistance to entrepreneurs who supplied construction blocks for the reconstruction.
  • CARE provided training to more 2,000 workers in masonry, plumbing, electrical repair, carpentry, welding and block making. These workers also learned about labor rights and laws. These trainees were organised into 10 village service guilds, which provide household services 8-10 villages each.
  • CARE trained 450 women, in food processing, handmade paper production, leather goods, bead work and other activities to improve their familys income.
  • With the destruction of primary healthcare infrastructure in the aftermath of the earthquake, CARE has been providing maternal and child health services through mobile clinics in remote rural villages. Currently, seven mobile clinics serve over 270,000 people, across 167 villages.

CARE in India:

CARE began operations in India in 1950. Since 1982, CARE has been an active supporter of the Indian government's Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) program, a nutrition and health program which serves millions of poor women and children, and is the largest program of its kind in the world. CARE helps strengthen the capacity of ICDS anganwadi (rural health) centers to provide basic services that include the management of diarrhea and respiratory infections, immunizations, growth monitoring, health and nutrition education, and Vitamin A supplements. CARE also provides supplementary food rations to 6.6 million malnourished children, adolescent girls and pregnant and nursing women through ICDS. In India, CARE also manages numerous primary health care, small enterprise development and girls' education projects, and provides emergency relief to victims of natural disasters as needed. In 1999, CARE's relief and rehabilitation assistance in the wake of the deadly Orissa cyclones reached more than half a million people; six years earlier, CARE mounted a large relief program in the wake of an earthquake that killed some 9,000 people and injured 16,000 more in Maharashtra State. CARE's 500 experienced staff operate ongoing development programs in eight Indian states: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.