Fighting Fani fury: Slum residents in Bhubaneswar show the way

Bhubaneswar: Post-Fani situation across the city has seen many inspirational stories on how people have contributed to the rebuilding and cleaning work of their neighbourhood and space. But, for these slum dwellers under the Bhubaneswar Town Centre District (BTCD) and outside its area, volunteering was just another way of living life through the age-old Indian tradition of “live and let live’’.
Thanks the initiative of the Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited, UNFPA, implementing partner Humara Bachpan Trust and other stakeholders for their initiatives as pre and post Fani cyclone management under the Socially Smart Initiative, communities of Sahid Nagar Telugu Basti, Shanti Nagar, Jagannath Basti Press Colony, OUAT, Kedarpalli, Jharana Sahi, Ganganagar, Tareni and Nirankari Nagar have shown how through community engagement major calamities can be managed.
As the severe cyclonic storm with a wind speed of more than 200 km uprooted more than 1 million trees across the city, the volunteers from the above slums organised community work with other social service organisations to clean the slums and also clear the green wastes.
Looking into the unhygienic condition of the slum, efforts were taken up in collaboration with peer leaders to clean up the area. Support in this regard was provided by group of volunteers who had come from other regions of Odisha to provide support to cyclone ravaged people. In many of the slums the community not only joined hand in hand with these volunteers and project staff, but also cooked food for these volunteers.
Here is how the entire things get managed. On May 1 an orientation programme was organised at OUAT Farm Gate Slum for 24 boys and girls from slums to prepare them for the efforts to be undertaken at various levels both during pre and post cyclone period.
On May 2 visits were undertaken to some select slums i.e. Saheed Nagar Telgu Basti, Jagannath Basti Press Colony, Shanti Nagar and Masjid Colony under BTCD and discussions were held with stakeholders like Anganwadi workers, ASHA and Mahila Arogya Samiti members.
Also a program was organised for all major stakeholders of Ward No. 41 wherein they were intimated the efforts being undertaken by the city administration as preparedness for the cyclone. They were also told about the shelters prepared and that the community should be ensured to move inside the shelters prior to the severe cyclonic storm.
Peer leaders from the slums of BTCD area _ young boys and girls given leadership training through the Socially Smart Programme_ were attached to the shelters wherein they provided required support to the Government officials, who were in the charge of the shelter. Their tireless efforts continued after May 3 as the shelters continued to distribute food to the affected. Clean drinking water was made available by linking the support provided by Tata Trust and Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation tankers.
Deepanjali Swain, a resident of Jagannath Basti, Press Colony said “we have done the cleanliness work with our community members. I am happy that I was part of the process.’’
Peer leaders Laxmipriya Swain and Sunita Nayak said “Fani aftermath was a learning lesson for us.’’