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RAHAT - Disaster Mitigation.

Swabhiman began operating in “Disaster Mitigation” in the aftermath of the Super Cyclone in Odisha (then Orissa) in 1999. The 1999 Super Cyclone ranks among one of the worst natural disasters to have occurred in India. According to official estimates, nearly 10,000 people lost their lives, more than 3.5 lakh houses were destroyed, several villages were completely washed away, more than 2 lakh animals died and 25 lakh people were marooned. From 2000, Swabhiman was largely involved in Livelihood Restoration of People with Disabilities along with getting their rights established.

Being susceptible to frequent natural disasters due to incessant monsoons, Swabhiman was at an advantage of humanitarian response. It was involved in the 2006-2008 flood situation, 2018 Titli cyclone, 2019 FANI cyclone and 2020 Covid-19 response. However, the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, its social restrictions, the lockdown of the entire state and with all activities stranded, the intervention was something novel and first of its kind.

COVID -19 (2020)

Swabhiman’s response to COVID-19 and future recovery plan has a five-pronged approach:

  • Provision of immediate relief through providing food, essentials and hygiene kits.

  • Advocacy for government relief to persons with disabilities.

  • Awareness on COVID-19’s symptoms, its impact and ways of safekeeping.

  • Evaluation and discussion on digital, virtual and offline education.

  • Survey and reports for understanding challenges faced by persons with disabilities and future planning of “Life after COVID-19 Lockdown”.

State and District administration was working on war-footing. Actively working on the ground, reaching out to the needy, while maintaining the COVID-19 safety protocols, Swabhiman demonstrated that it is a courageous partner that can rise to the challenge.

Swabhiman entered into humanitarian action with support from the State Emergency Response Team and the State Disaster Management Authorities to distribute dry ration, hand-wash material, protection kits, essentials to the most vulnerable population—persons with disabilities and their families, those who are economically impacted by the lockdown and the frontline workers.

Cyclone Fani (2019)

Areas of Operation

Swabhiman’s relief and rehabilitation campaign for the benefit of people affected by the FANI cyclone was spread in the following areas:

  • 102 urban poor areas and slums of Bhubaneswar

  • Puri Sadar Block Urban area which includes Penthakata, Baliapanda, Baselisahi and Balisahi

  • Puri Rural area Blocks of Pipili, Delanga, Kanasa, Brahmagiri, Kakatpur and Astaranga

  • Leprosy colonies of Bhubaneswar (Railway Station) and Puri urban areas

  • Swami Vivekanand National Institute of Rehabilitation Training and Research (SVNIRTAR)

Domain of Operation

  • Rapid assessment

  • Relief distribution

  • Conducting health-camps

  • Individual household needs’ assessment of persons and children with disabilities affected by cyclone Fani

  • Support in livelihood restoration of persons with disabilities

  • Facilitate and ensure the linkage of children and persons with disabilities with all entitlements and compensations provided by Government and other stakeholders for the relief & rehabilitation to be provided in relation to cyclone FANI

Based on the rapid assessment taken immediately after the cyclone, the following works were initiated by Swabhiman: 

  • Volunteer Mobilization: 30 volunteers from different organizations joined their hands with Swabhiman in Bhubaneswar and Puri district and engaged in relief and restoration activities.

  • Supply of Drinking Water: 32,268 litres of drinking water was supplied to 2150 affected households in urban slums of Bhubaneswar. Water purification systems were installed in collaboration with Tata Trusts. This activity was done through the NGO Collective established at CYSD (Centre for Youth and Social Development) under the collaboration of “Civil Society Responds to FANI”.

  • Health and Hygiene Camps were organised in two Bhubaneswar slums.

  • Material Distribution: Materials including Dry Ration Kit (5500), Household Kit (3500), Medicine Kits (1700), Colouring Kits for children (1200) and Livelihood Kits (372) were distributed.

  • Counselling on Call: Counselling was provided over Reliance Helpline for 6 months succeeding FANI to 5900 callers.


The cyclone response work was undertaken in collaboration with many NGOs and donors including Aditya Birla Capital, Utkal Charitable Trust, Circle of Friends, Disability Rights India Foundation, Reliance Foundation, Red Cross Odisha and BJB Alumnus.

Swabhiman is extremely thankful to all collaborators, donors and individual supporters for their valuable support and cooperation in such difficult and testing times.

Cyclone Titli (2018)

After intensive discussions with State Coordinator, Manoranjan Behera of Inter Agency Group (forum of CSO/NGOs coordination for disaster mitigation) attended the meeting of Odisha State Disaster Mitigation Authority (OSDMA). A team was formed consisting of Mihir Mohanty and Jyoti Prassanna Patnaik. Discussions were held with OSDN partner Jagannath Raju of CCD- Gajapati and OSDN partner K. Anand of Ganjam. They provided support in relief coordination at the district level. A snapshot study was conducted, followed by advocacy for disaster relief and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities in the region.

Flood Response (2006-2008)

Odisha witnessed a severe spate of floods in 2006 affecting 12 districts with a loss of 22 lives. The worst-hit district was Kendrapada with a total 4,98,854 people having been affected in 612 villages. Sustained water logging posed a serious threat of an epidemic with no access to basic human health services and safe drinking water. To add to this, the livestock were stranded with little or no access to water, fodder, and veterinary medicines. Swabhiman partnered in providing relief to persons with disabilities.

Super Cyclone  (1999)

Odisha was battered by a Super Cyclonic Storm on 29 October, 1999 that made landfall near Paradip. The estimated maximum wind speed reached 260-270 kmph in the core area which produced a huge storm surge that led to a sea-level elevation of more than 20 feet. The effect of this was so disastrous that it took away the valuable lives of nearly 10,000 people.

The cyclone saw Swabhiman’s active play in the Civil Society Sector. Swabhiman was largely involved in counselling, livelihood assessment and restoration.

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