Disaster Preparedness and Response India Women who benefited from

Disaster Preparedness and Response
Women who
benefited from
the raised road
Women’s empowerment and flood escape in Bihar (DC)
During the monsoon season, Dhaneyla West turns literally into an island, with floodwater
surrounding it from all sides. Life comes to a standstill and when the floodwaters become too
turbulent, there is no means of escape. Twelve years ago, the government sanctioned a strip of
land to construct an escape road, linking the village with the mainland. However, an all-powerful
upper caste family (headed by a Court Judge) encroached on this piece of land, with the active
support of high government officials, and the road was never built. Most of the villagers of
Dhaneyla West knew nothing about this sanction.
Through the active intervention of DC project staff, the community was made aware of the
government provision. This fired the determination of Self Help Group members to claim what
was really theirs and to end the months of misery faced each year during the monsoon. Women
provided most of the labour as trees were cut down, bushes cleared and the road began to take
shape. Opposition from the higher castes, who underestimated the degree of empowerment, was
the first barrier the women had to overcome, but there was strength in unity and the SHG
prevailed! Today, a 25-metre long road, having a width of 8 feet, stands as a symbol of
achievement. During the 2007 floods, 2500 people from Dhaneyla were able to access all
services by easily reaching the highway. Every family contributed around Rs. 30 for the paving of
this road to make it permanent in nature.