Article in: Disaster, vol. 24, issue 1.
This paper opens with a history of development and disaster-prevention strategies in a cyclone-prone area of the east coast of India and traces the evolution in the area of British and Indian governments' programmes and policy over a century. Research over the last 20 years has shown however that the programmes and policies have failed to balance economic growth with safety. Resources intended for the benefit of all have been diverted by alliances of powerful people to a small minority, and recent developments have reduced the physical protection of the area. The result is that increasing numbers of people are vulnerable to the effects of cyclones and floods. The findings suggest that the best way to reduce vulnerability is to improve the socio-economic standing of the most vulnerable and for this to happen these people must have an assured income based on assets that will enable them to acquire social and economic credit-worthiness within the local economy. This paper presents evidence that suggests that non-governmental organization (NGO)-supported co-operatives are the best way to achieve this through self-help and self-employment schemes. It also suggests that NGOs should be encouraged to take up environmentally and ecologically beneficial activities involving the poorest groups in the communities, in this way combining sustained self-employment with environmental protection.
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