In the aftermath of the major earthquake that hit Gujarat in January 2001, one of the major challenges beyond the immediate needs of relief, was that of rehabilitation of those who suffered traumatic loss of not just property and shelter, but of the very basis of their existence. This called for a comprehensive programme of restoring in a sustainable manner the livelihoods, so closely dependent on the management and wise use of natural resources, of thousands of people. Like many other organisations which got involved in post-disaster activities, CEE did not have any direct experience of disasters or rehabilitation. It banked on its experience of involving stakeholders in planning and decision-making in developmental activities, to initiate a sustained programme called Rebuilding Hope in two districts.
Since then CEE has initiated medium to long-term programmes for the people affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, and now for the earthquake-hit people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The approach of having a long-term intervention in these areas is to work with and capacity-build communities to become more disaster-resilient and cope better. These programmes, after fulfilling immediate needs of shelter, provisions, etc., ultimately look at strengthening livelihood opportunities and addressing environmental and development problems at a larger scale, which involves different stakeholders working together on long-term basis.
With more than 70 per cent of the country prone to one or other type of disaster, it is important that there be a focused initiative in the field of disaster management.