CBM India revives the lost livelihood of communities worst affected by the floods in Kerala
For centuries, the languid network of backwaters in Kerala has been the lifeline of people living along its fringes. But little did they realise that the same water that breathed life into their land, would become its nemesis in August of 2018. Kerala was devastated by the worst floods in a century that killed scores of people and forced tens of thousands into relief camps.
The deluge was touted as the worst disaster to hit the state in a century. As most of the aid agencies focused on their relief services in Northern Kerala, CBM India Channelled its relief activities to the vulnerable communities in the worst affected pockets of the Kuttanadu region.
Mercy Stephen, Field Animator, Kottayam says – ‘We arrived the camps in a lorry with so much difficulty. We distributed food packets, clothes and medicines to the people.’
A baseline survey conducted by CBM revealed that the traditional livelihoods of villagers were badly affected as most of them had lost their livelihood tools and livestock in the floods. The only way to bring hope in their lives was through revival of their lost livelihood. The Vembanadu Lake was the only source of livelihood for several families that depended on it for fishing and clam collection. Providing livelihood implements to them help them tide over the calamity and restart their livelihood.
Sabu, Beneficiary, Kuttanad says – ‘We received livelihood kits from CBM India and it included basket, bucket, net, sieve, etc which helped us restart our living.’
The shores of Manjadikkari are now familiar to the rhythmic sounds of the tailoring machines from Nissy Tailoring Unit, an initiative aimed to provide employment for women in the affected area through tailoring.
Lissy, Beneficiary, Kuttanad says – ‘We called few textile shops in Kottayam and got orders for cutting nighty pieces. We stitch them here and they come to collect the finished pieces. We earn 12 per nighty. We make sure that each one of us stitches atleast 10 nighties everyday.’
These days one can see Rajappan, a person with locomotors disability rowing his new boat in the Vembanadu Lake with ease. He collects discarded bottles from the lake and sells them for a living.
Rajappan, Beneficiary, Kuttanad says – ‘I used to hire a boat for INR 3000 to collect from the lake. I own this boat today and I am very happy.’
Another routine scene in this lake is how the community uses its newly built Jangar for their daily commute. It is an initiative that has ensured accessible water transport for the people in the region. A flock of ducks, which were a common sight in Kuttanadu, once again glide in the ponds of Allepey villages much to the joy of its residents who had lost their livestock in the floods. They claim that the ducks not only give them solace, but also are a good source of income.
Cicily, Beneficiary, Kuttanad says – ‘I have 50 ducks today. On an average, these ducks gives me 25 eggs. So, I earn a monthly profit of around Rs. 2000 from this.’
Today, the life along the backwaters in Kuttanadu seems gentle and calm. CBM India’s initiatives have fostered the resilience of people, and have reinforced their unity and allegiance for the land that has given them their identity. They realise that the road to stability is long and winding but it’s the waves of optimism from initiatives like these that keep them going.
CBM is an international Christian development organization, committed to improving the quality of life of people with disabilities in the poorest communities of the world. It is considered one of the world's oldest and largest organizations working in this field
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