In August 2018, flash floods and landslides triggered by extreme rainfall, dam openings devastated large parts of Kerala, India. SEEDS has been working with the most vulnerable communities, primarily in Wayanad district, to help them recover. We have taken a holistic approach, looking at shelters, water and sanitation, education and health; and emphasizing long-term local resilience.
Our intervention began with immediate relief distribution and health camps. With the primary water sources – wells – submerged during the flood, access to clean water was critical. We have been working to clean wells and building village-level capacity on chlorination to spread the impact. We are now beginning work on rehabilitating Primary Health Centres as well.
The long-term impact on education is usually an invisible secondary impact of disasters. It rarely gets the attention it deserves. The distribution of children’s kits and classroom supplies helped children get back to their routine. We’re now starting to repair and restore schools, focusing not just on safety, but designing for happy environments. We have also been part of the team working with teachers on revising academic curriculums to include disaster management.
At the centre of all of this work has been our efforts to get families back to their homes. The transitional shelters follow cultural norms, using materials that are local and can be re-used later on. The design leaves enough flexibility to use salvaged material, or build above existing plinths where available. These homes have been built in partnership with the homeowners, and a simple smart card has walked them through the construction process. We will now be supporting homeowners for permanent reconstruction, working alongside the local government to provide socio-technical support.