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Red Cross helps rural Indian communities prepare for monsoon season

Monday May 19, 2014 - 18:16 EST

Aid agencies are working with vulnerable communities in India to prepare for next month's summer monsoons.

The season brings 85 per cent of India's annual rainfall.

The rainfall is vital for farmers and agricultural communities, but too much of it also poses a yearly threat to many rural communities.

The Indian Red Cross is working with locals to prepare for imminent flood damage.

Regional disaster preparedness advisor for South Asia, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Gaurav Ray, says preparation is critical.

"Every year, we have a pre-monsoon, pre-disaster meeting with the communities ... we do some amount of simulation exercises and drills with the communities, whereby they internalise the whole impact that could happen," Mr Ray told .

"People know that if they save and do things early on, there is benefit that they can get.

"We have a whole lot of contingency planning processes with the communities, as well as informing them, giving them early warning from the National headquarters."

Cross-border regions are particularly at risk of flooding, and Nepal and Bangladesh have been asked to assist in preparation efforts.

Mr Ray said it's particularly important to work with schools.

"We have a school-based program going on, similar to the Pacific."

"It's all about teaching the teachers in the school and the children through curriculums ... that could save a number of lives."

Lessons learnt from past disasters

Current preparations are being made with last year's devastating Uttarakhand floods in mind.

Mr Ray says the Red Cross has learned its lessons from this event.

"The biggest lessons that the Red Cross learnt from this operation was that we need to prepare well, we need to understand that the population dynamics in those areas, practically," Mr Ray said.

"Uttarakhand is a very high-sought pilgrimage site for Indians and we need to manage these situations in a better way, logistically.

"We need to understand pre-positioning of relief supplies and making the communities ready through our volunteer-based programs.

"So I think this year, we are doing that much in terms of mobilising people ... so that they are not caught up again in the last monsoon season."


- ABC

© ABC 2014

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