Home away from home – An evacuation center

Every year communities of Banjara, located in Rautahat district is affected by inundation, posing high risk to the lives of community people living in this area. Bigu Shah, Ward Chairperson of Isnath Municipality in Banjara, shares his sadness “Our village is inundated due to Lalbakiya and Jhab rivulets every year. So far, 70 people have lost their lives due to floods in their community. Isnath municipality is surrounded by numerous embankment and less possibilities of water drainage. The evacuation center was a real need for the community people to save their lives and livelihood. This led the local communities to approach Oxfam working in Banjara in partnership with Rural Development Center to support them with an alternative during the monsoon season.

The concept – evacuation home

The goal of Oxfam’s Humanitarian, Disaster Risk Reduction & Climate Change Adaptation programme is Saving lives now and in the future with enhanced resilience for vulnerable women and men at risk of, or coping with, disasters and impacts of climate change.’ And, with this goal in mind, Oxfam organized series of consultation with local representative, mayor, ward commissioner and senior citizens to discuss the ways to keep community safe during monsoon, and flooding season.

An evacuation centre was suggested by the community members themselves. As per the senior citizen of Banjara, the area is highly vulnerable to the flood. “As we were facing difficulties during the monsoon period, we requested Oxfam to construct the multipurpose evacuation center that would be useful in the time of flood, fire and earthquake. At other times, this would be used for income generation activities which brings sustainable solution of the vulnerable community.” The aim of the evacuation center is to reduce loss of life and livelihood of Banjara during flood.

Approaching existence

Building an evacuation center was not an easy task. A lot of planning were done to carry out the construction with proper consultation. The estimated cost of evacuation center was Nepali rupees 5,600,000. The cost contributed by municipality is NPR 1,000,000 and by ward office is NPR 1,500,000 Nepali rupees. Oxfam in Nepal contributed 7,20,000 Nepali rupees for the construction. Rest of the amount has been allocated by member of legislator nominated from the local community. The ownership of the building will be taken by municipality and ward office. For the construction phase, 11 members’ User Committee has been formed. The roles and responsibility of user committee is to control the quality of construction, financial management, procurement and supervision of multipurpose evacuation center.

The ward office and ward commissioner has taken responsibility to coordinate with the Mayor, Oxfam, its partner and community leader for harmonizing the environment for budget allocation, and land management. However, one technical officer has been fully assigned for the entire construction. The center is designed with earthquake, flood and lightening resistant technologies and will soon have its own operation and maintenance guideline and management committee after successful completion and handover of the center.

Multi-purpose - catering different requirements

One of the best component of the evacuation center is its multi-usage. Firstly, it has a double story hand pump which will be functional even in high level flood and inundation. This will provide drinking water to the vulnerable community of Rautahat. Secondly, as per the sphere standard, approximately 200 people can take shelter during emergencies. Thirdly, this evacuation center will also be used in an income generation activities for local community. Beside the handpump, fire extinguisher and lightening proof system will also be established in the building, which is another special component.

A sustainability plan will be prepared with active support from ward office and Ishnath Municipality which will contribute in long run. It has been crucial time for the community people to feel safe from devastations like flood, fire and earthquake. During the flood, people in the community had nowhere to take shelter and many had to face several health problems too. There was no proper hygiene and lack of safe drinking water caused many children and women to suffer from health problems. Moreover, marginalized people had to suffer a lot during the flood and earthquake.

They are eagerly waiting for the shelter home to be ready where they can take shelter at the time of emergency. "This is our home and now it is our responsibility to take care of this home,” says community people.