Rupam is an 18-year-old member of Plan India’s Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) who has played a significant role in creating awareness on disaster preparedness during floods in his village in Bihar. She joined Plan India’s YAP programme in 2015 and the knowledge helped her steer her family and neighbour to safety
“As a youth mobiliser, I helped in sounding the alarm on August 14, 2017, the day of the flood and also helped my family and neighbours reach higher ground. Now, we are taking special care of the children, especially girls. We are holding one on one conversations with girls and women in our village and sharing information of good touch-bad touch and are strictly warning everyone from sending their children away with relatives in the city. We are encouraging them to hold ground. We will get out of this together!” she shares emphatically.
During crises situations, many a times, parents feel that children would be better off with relatives in the city, but in reality, many face exploitation, and Rupam’s training has taught her well. Plan India, as part of its preparedness mechanism, has empowered youth mobilisers through trainings, capacity building and information.
“I also know karate,” she giggles.
While children are trying to work around their way in these times of severe adversity; problems of open defecation, damaged houses, loss of agricultural land is looming heavily upon them. Women and girls specially are facing huge problems regarding sanitation.
“We take turns to relieve ourselves, a group acts like a barrier and hold scarves (a.k.a chudni). Managing periods is becoming a problem as well. A contaminated water table too is adding to our woes. Access to safe drinking water is limited.”
There is an immediate need to address the health and hygiene issues in the village. Sitamarhi is one the worst affected villages in Muzaffarpur district.
Plan India, in the past, had constructed water pumps in the village (locally known as champa kal) in higher grounds, and those are the only hand pumps that are still accessible, rest are well inundated. “The hand-pumps which are on the higher ground constructed by Plan India, are our only source of drinking water,” she shares. The preparedness has been very beneficial to the community and children like Rupam reflect the best of such awareness trainings and programmes.
Bihar is reeling under the effects of floods, huge loss of lives, property, livelihoods have been reported all over the state.
Plan India is amongst the first responders on-ground and is providing humanitarian relief to the most vulnerable and most affected. Hygiene kits, nutritional dry food items, tarpaulin, water purification tablets are being disturbed amongst affected families and communities. The team is also planning to conduct general health camps to address health and hygiene related issues. Plan India would also work towards the containment of mosquito breeding.