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Responding Quickly to Natural Disasters in India

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When an earthquake struck Gujarat in January 2001, it killed about 13,800 people, and injured another 167,000. The quake smashed to rubble some 220,000 houses and damaged nearly a million others, besides disrupting power and water supply, and the road, irrigation, and telecommunication networks.  Thousands of schools, hospitals, administrative buildings, and markets collapsed. Families, livelihoods, and social networks were destroyed.

“Nothing had prepared us for the devastation that was to come,” says Fatima Behn, a resident of Dabhi village, in the Patan District of Gujarat. “But as mothers, we soon realized that we had to get a firm hold on our feelings and deal with the other realities—children who were terrified and had to be fed, no houses available.  One of the first things that we wanted was a makeshift school for our children.”

The international community, Indian civil society, and the World Bank responded swiftly.  Relief and rescue teams, food, tents and medicines, cash and donations, and long-term offers to help in reconstruction flowed in.  As a result of this collaboration, over 800,000 houses have been repaired and reconstructed to a higher standard than before.  Some 5,000 engineers and 24,000 masons have received training in building seismically safe houses.  About 1,400 primary schoolrooms have been completed by non-governmental organizations, and another 1,000 are in progress.  In addition, repairs of about 7,000 public buildings are now complete.


Related Links:
  India
 World Bank/Asian Development Bank Gujarat Earthquake Assessment


Updated: September 2002