The super cyclone that struck coastal Orissa on 29th-30th October 1999 and the floods following it necessitated relief measures on an emergency basis – timely support that helped people to survive in those critical days. When things settled down, however, many were left without any means of livelihood. The poor in general – small and marginal farmers and fisher folk – did not have resources to rebuild their lives. Migration in search of labor started from the coastal districts.
AFPRO’s response to the crisis came in the form of post-disaster support to enable the cyclone-affected persons to generate livelihoods in their own villages. The Orissa Livelihood Restoration Fund, conceived by SDC, aims at rebuilding lives in all six coastal districts, with AFPRO covering 4 of them. In all, 3416 families are being covered under the programme, working out to an average of Rs. 1,539/- to be invested per family. All the beneficiaries of the individual family support programme are returning 25 per cent of the amount vested in them to the village group for the revolving fund.
Among specific support, inputs like paddy and vegetable seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, iron ploughs and threshers were provided for the farmers to start cultivating. Land improvement activities were also carried out and inputs provided to increase crop yields, in both kharif as well as rabi seasons. To support irrigation, shallow tube wells with either Krishak Bandhu or diesel engine pumps. Cows and goats were distributed, especially among the widows from the cyclone. Fisher folk were also supported with equipment like boats and nets lost in the cyclone; inland fisher folk were aided with inputs for pisciculture.
Aid is supplemented with strategies to mobilize these communities in taking charge over their lives. As an approach, it is proving its efficacy, as shown by the increased degree of participation in community works, especially by women.