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Gender Budgeting in Disaster Relief: Need for a New Methodology

While making policies and designing disaster recovery programmes, the different gender roles and responsibilities that are socially attributed to men and women should be taken into account. The programmes should focus specifically on the women's component in the general scheme or women-specific schemes. The gender perspective should be incorporated into disaster budgeting in such a way that the vulnerable are catered to according to their specific needs.

REVIEW OF WOMEN’S STUDIESEconomic & Political Weekly EPW april 26, 200873Gender Budgeting in Disaster Relief: Need for a New Methodology Meenakshi ThoratWhile making policies and designing disaster recovery programmes, the different gender roles and responsibilities that are socially attributed to men and women should be taken into account. The programmes should focus specifically on the women’s component in the general scheme or women-specific schemes. The gender perspective should be incorporated into disaster budgeting in such a way that the vulnerable are catered to according to their specific needs.Meenakshi Thorat ( is associated with Sphere India, a coalition that is a pilot programme of the Sphere Project, Geneva.The 0ccurrence of disasters has been increasing in the recentpast all over the world. Much of the cause relates to global warming followed by man-made disasters. The steadily increasing occurrences of loss and damage to life has thus become a cause of great concern at different levels. Until a couple of decades back, we human beings tended to believe that we had overcome disasters like famines, until nature showeditssupremacy once again in the 1984 famines (Amartya Sen has however argued forcefully that famines are not caused by nature but the result of peoples’ lack of entitlements – inability to buy food, hoarding, etc).Disaster and emergency management have become a focal point for all nations worldwide. Within the “development sector” this has acquired a special importance in the last couple of decades. A major endeavour of the development sector is to ease disaster situations. This has necessitated financial allocations for mitigating disaster effects. Closely linked to this is the issue of gender budgeting. The linkage arises because development now has the mandate to empower women. This has to be translated into specific activities with money set aside for it. This was how “gender budgeting” created a place for itself in the development sector. It was not all as easy as it sounds. Yet, similar effortsare vaguely visible in the “disaster management/emergencies”. It may well be treated as a tool for the empowerment of women.As this paper focuses its attention on gender budgeting in dis-aster management, we need to look deeper into the gender bud-geting at present available in the government budget. Inference then can be drawn on what percolates to women during a disas-ter situation. At the outset, it is necessary to share that this paper by and large collates the secondary information and the experi-ences in the field. It further focuses sharply on the need to make a “gender-responsive” activity during an emergency. This can only be achieved when there are finances assigned for the same.1 Emergencies and Planned Response Global warming has started impacting the earth and its inhabit-ants to a noticeable extent. Alongside, the impacts of disasters have also increased in recent years. Disasters the world over tend to escalate also due to various other reasons such as urbanisa-tion, higher density of population and the growth of concrete jungles. In urban areas that are densely populated with less open spaces, the damage gets aggravated.According to the United Nations, in 2001 alone: natural disasters of medium to high range caused at least 25,000 deaths around the world, more than double the previous year, and
REVIEW OF WOMEN’S STUDIESapril 26, 2008 EPW Economic & Political Weekly74economic losses of around $ 36 billion. The figure would swell if the impact of smaller and the unrecorded disasters occurring in the local community level were to be taken into consideration. The recent mas-sive destructions caused by earth related disasters have been powerful earthquakes that struck Gujarat, El Salvador and Peru. Similarly, flash floods and floods took a high toll in countries of Asia and Africa. Droughts have plagued countries in central Asia like Afghanistan, Africa and central America. The tsunami and super-cyclone in south India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Orissa and floods in Bolivia [GoI2002].The resultant devastation seems to be beyond the control of our civic system, which is a cause for concern and this is the main issue meriting discussion. After cyclone Katrina that struck New Orleans, the United States, presumably the most developed nation of the world, also seemed to have lacked a disaster response. When we are talking of India, we have a long way to go, having hardly begun to prepare for emergencies. Examining whether effective control of the impact of a disaster also comes under the purview of development is vital. Naturally linked to this is safe-guarding of the interest and needs of vulnerable groups like women. Further, finances and budget heads rarely back women’s “needs” and “interests”.The MagnitudeWithin Asia 24 per cent of deaths due to disaster occurred in India. Roughly 60 per cent of all disasters in India emanate from floods and high winds. This is yet another indicator that India urgently needs to pay attention to mitigating the effects of disasters. The total expenditure on relief and reconstruction in Gujarat after the earthquake has been to the tune of Rs 11,500 crore. About 54 per cent of the subcontinent’s land mass is vulnerable to earthquakes while about four crore hectares is vulnerableto periodic floods.India’s key vulnerabilities are: (i) coastal states, particularly the east coast and Gujarat are vulnerable to cyclones; (ii) four crore hectare land mass is vulnerable to drought; (iii) fifty-five per cent of total area is in the seismiczoneIII – V, and so is vulnerable to earthquakes; (iv) sub-Himalayan/Western Ghat is vulnerable to land-slides [GoI 2002].The table quantifies the damage to infra-structure, property and the lives, spanning 16 years from 1985 to 2001. The figures definitely reflect an upward graph, asserting the urgency and the severity of the ever-increasing disasters in their scale as well as nature.All this highlights how we are constantly facing theincrease in the number of disasters more than in the past, in addition to the dangers that we are already coping with. Having said this, humani-tarian aid (in terms of government, international non-governmental organisations (INGOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), etc) which earlier became active only at the stage of post-disaster has now started to proactively plan to miti-gate the effects of looming disasters. This is a multifaceted task, yet it is being planned by different departments and organisations and approaches. Development programmes are now consciously tryingto link disasters with supporting concerns of development. Disaster management in itself has begun to introspect on its approaches, thus giving way to the “disaster risk reduction” approach, which involves planning right from preparing the groups at the village level to prepositions of stocks at the state and district level. While this effectively strengthens the efforts canalised towards mitigating the effects of disaster, we still need to streamline managing disasters. The statistical data given in the table highlights the urgency and the magnitude with which disaster preparedness has to be undertaken, to ensure the lives of women and men.Gender Responsive NeedsComing to the humane aspect of disasters, it is learnt that disaster impacts women and men differently, since the roles and responsi-bility assigned to women and men by the society are varied. Their roles and responsibilities translate into corresponding needs of women and men. The humanitarian aid workers identify these “needs” so that resources are made available accordingly. It is apt at this point to emphasise that roughly 75 per cent of the affected, either through loss of life or injury are women and children.An attempt has been made in Section 2 to understand the link between the practical gender needs (PGN) of women, which encompass roles and responsibilities on the one hand and the ability on part of the humanitarian aid workers to fulfil these PGN, in the absence of an assigned budget and in the lack of gen-der mainstreaming in relevant activities. Five-Year Plan documents have, historically, not included consideration of issues relating to the management and mitigation of natural disasters. The traditional perception has been limited to the idea of “calamity relief”, which is seen essentially as a non-plan item of expenditure. However, the impact of major disasters cannot be mitigated by the provision of immediate relief alone, which is the primary focus of calamity relief efforts. Disas-ters can have devastating effects on the economy; they cause huge human and economic losses, and can significantly set back development efforts of a region or a state. Two recent disasters, the Orissa cyclone and the Gujarat earthquake, are cases in point. With the kind of economic losses and devel-opmental setbacks that the country has been suf-fering year after year, the developmentprocess needs to be sensitive towards disaster prevention and mitigation aspects. There is thus need to look atdisastersfrom a development perspective as well [GoI 2002].Until recently disaster management did not have separate funds in the Five-Year Plans. The funds are now being used from the Plan’s allocation for mitigating natural disasters. SuchPlanschemes may include – various schemesof the government of India, such as for drinkingwater, employment generation, inputs for agricultureandfloodcontrol measures, etc. In addition there are provisions for rescheduling short-term loans taken for agricultural purposes upon certifica-tion by the district/state administration. Funds are also required Table: Damage due to Natural Disasters in IndiaYear People Affected Houses Amount of (in Lakhs) and Buildings, Property Partially or Damage/Loss Totally(RsCrore) Damaged 1985 595.62,449,87840.061986 550.0 2,049,277 30.741987 483.4 2,919,380 20.571988 101.5242,53340.631989 30.1782,34020.411990 31.7 1,019,930 10.711991 342.7 1,190,109 10.901992 190.9 570,969 20.051993 262.41,529,916 50.801994 235.31,051,22310.831995 543.5 2,008,355 40.731996 549.9 2,376,693 50.431997 443.8 1,103,549 n.a1998 521.71,563,405 0.721999 501.7 3,104,064 1,020.972000 594.342,736,355 8002001 788.19 846,87812,000Source: Annual Reports, NDM division, Ministry of Agriculture, cited from ‘Disaster Management – The Development Perspective’, Vol 1, Ch 7,The Tenth Five-Year Plan Document (2002-2007), GoI.
REVIEW OF WOMEN’S STUDIESEconomic & Political Weekly EPW april 26, 200875for central government’s assets/infrastructure that need to be repaired/rectified by the respective ministry/department of the government of India. In addition, at the occurrence of a calamity of greater magnitude, funds from donors at local and international level flow at different phases of relief and rehabilitation. Yet there is little sensitivity among the humanitarian aid agencies including the government to assign a budget for the women. This is important since women are the caretakers of the old, the infirm and infants as well as themselves.The budget for disasters and emergencies has struggled to be recognised as an important expenditure head. However, gender responsive budgeting (GRB) is, comparatively speaking, in its infancy and currently efforts to include it as a budget head is going on.2 Shifting Focus: Gender BudgetingThe world of “developmental work” is slowly and surely shifting its focus to “work during and after disasters”. Various govern-ments have now begun to keep a certain budget for emergencies. Earlier it was included only as part of the contingency budgeting. The developmental work carried out either by a government or any NGO, hardly ever followed gender budgeting. Since emer-gency relief and later rehabilitation phase is being carried out on the lines of developmental work, the provision of gender-specific budgeting is missing. While one talks of human dignity and humanitarian aid to the affected community, it seems but natural to expect that the needs of the vulnerable groups be met.The finance minister’s initiative came as pressure was put by repre-sentatives of various women’s organisations seeking a fair deal for women in this year’s budget. A relatively new concept, gender budget-ing aims to bring gender equality in the allocation of public funds, by identifying its implications for women and girls. It does not seek to create separate budgets nor claim more money for women [Financial Express Bureau 2005].As late as 2005, the finance minister referred to gender budget-ing as a relatively new concept. From now, can the concept and its implementation reach the grassroots in our villages, in a period of three years? Critiquing the approaches followed so far on different aspects of gender budgeting, Anjali Goyal (2005) in-stead links the budget more directly to issues of women’s empow-erment . She says that we have to go in for a more broad-based approach that addresses planning, allocation of adequate re-sources, programme design and formulation, targeted interven-tion and implementation based upon the requirement of women residing at the field level with their participation. This has to be supplemented by relentless reality checks at the field level. “Gender mainstreaming has to be a guiding force in all these activities to maximise outreach of public expenditure and benefits for women” [Anjali Goyal 2005]. In the development sector, over the previous couple of decades, the major focus area has been to improve women’s social and eco-nomic status. The debates, policies and the programmes thus moved from “women in development” to “women and development” to “gender and development”. To put it more simply women were seen to begin with as mere recipients of development programmes which were designed by others. Gradually the next stage evolved wherein women were seen as participating in decision-making, being part of the development process. A little later women and men were together considered for the development process. This is similar to the approach which needs to be carried out in the field especially in emergencies. Disaster affects women and men differently as they also carry different coping mechanisms. Biological sex is transformed into gendered roles, responsibility, attitude and behaviour of a per-son. The concept of gender is built around biological sex through the socialisation process, the agents being family, peer group, teachers, neighbourhood, etc. It is further strengthened through the social structures (institutions) which vary according to law, religion, education, politics, economy, profession, etc. Humanitarian workers should be addressing women and men but not “people”. Women and men have different needs, suscepti-bilities and capabilities to cope up with disasters. Women have natural – biological – needs to be addressed as well. The PGN of women are closely linked to their ability to survive and help family members manage through tough days. These can be fulfilled when women are involved in the decision-making and assessment of their own needs. Such information has to be culled out also in terms of disaggregated data. This can then be followed by gender analysis and developing an under-standing of the women’s and men’s workloads. Once the basic data reflects the correct picture, proportional provision of facilities is possible. At each and every stage the team compo-sition should carry both women and men, targeting the needs of women and men.– Needless to emphasise women survivors would have gender-specific needs, like appropriate clothing, hygiene supplies, safe transportation to reach relief camps, childcare and elderly care support, reproductive health support system and ensuring safety.– Due recognition to the traditional work pattern would help the disaster survivors. They can be illustrated by including women in food distribution roles in the temporary shelters or camp.– Women front liners even during the relief are important for women survivors as they can freely discuss their needs and health issues which they may not share with men due to cultural reasons.Conscious EffortGender needs much more conscious effort to be integrated in disaster research, planning and implementation but a new para-digm is emerging. Gender and disaster are generally treated as a post-rehabilitation issue. It is regarded as a complex yet dynamic set of social relations, which needs to be catered to during the response phase soon after a disaster. Gender is seen more akin to “women” than anything to do with “men”. The closest it gets is by seeing women as “helpless” victims, more so because they are poor. Both the government agencies andNGOs are attempting to proactively integrate gender concerns as a factor in response planning and vulnerability. Similarly, more women need to be necessarily integrated as essential partners during the mitigation and preparedness phases.Gender is not as much emphasised in disaster research, plan-ning and implementation as required but a new paradigm is coming up. Although gender and disaster are generally treated as
REVIEW OF WOMEN’S STUDIESapril 26, 2008 EPW Economic & Political Weekly76post-rehabilitation issues for consideration, they are not regarded as a complex but yet dynamic set of social relations which need to be taken into account during the response phase soon after a dis-aster. Neither government agencies nor NGOs have proactively integrated gender concerns as a factor in disaster vulnerability and response plans. Gender needs should be transformed into budget heads at the activity level as well proposal level.We still need to reach women separately. As we understand, women too are part of the culture and society but that which is largely made and governed by men. So over the years, thanks to the socialisation process, the women’s needs became secondary to that of men and family. This perception is imbibed by the women themselves. This is because they have never been t aught to think about themselves but only of their household members. As a humanitarian worker one is expected to recognise the needs of the women and work towards fulfilling them or else it may lead to other vulnerabilities and unsafe coping strategies. Women are especially hard hit by the social impacts of environ-mentaldisasters. Social indicators may vary from becoming a dependent, a widow, involvement in the flesh trade, denied relief, etc. Over and above these are the other dynamics like the political conditions, their economic strength, social support and technology. Post disaster mortality, injury, and illness rates are often much more for girls and women. The loss of agricul-tural work for women farmers, the disruption of home-based business, and low access to the financial and material aid are some other issues. Though it sounds too simple at this point of time to differen-tiate sex and gender; yet the importance lies that this paper may also reach the hands of the technical personnel who may be quite unaware of the implications of these concepts. Further ithelps to develop the coordination of these concepts with policymaking. GRB is in fact about suitable “policymaking”. Policymaking is the work of the government which responds to political choice-determining the roles that it sees as appropriate for women and men, girls and boys. Desirable InitiativesA budget is gender-sensitive when it is able to address the special needs of women and men. According to the United Nations Develop-ment Programme’sManual for Trainers on ‘Gender Responsive Budgeting’ the common activities of GRB initiatives should include:– Research: Usually conducted from outside government, as the basis for advocacy;– Advocacy: Usually conducted from outside government, but players inside government and parliament might also need to advocate for GRB;– Monitoring: This is a key role of parliament, but government itself should monitor as part of its management function, while civil society will want to monitor budget implementation;– Training: Training can involve all role-players, but should usually do so in separate workshops because of their different knowledge and functions;– Awareness-raising: Usually targeted at those who are not ex-pected to play a key role, but whose support is needed. Targets could thus include the general public (to get support for advocacy demands) and top government officials (to get buy-in for GRB activity within their agencies);– Policy analysis and design: This is the government’s role. GRB is a form of policy analysis, and one of the aims of mostGRB initia-tives is to have government institutionalise GRB in their daily and annual budget-related activities.The work pattern for women changes after a disaster, which suggests that disasters increase women’s responsibilities in the domestic sphere, displaces their employment and fragments their community. Sexual and domestic violence against girls and women in a disaster takes an upswing. Due to the sudden and drastic changes that follow a disaster, under the diverse environmental, politico-economic, social and cultural condi-tions, gender relations differently shape the impacts of natural disasters on women and men, thus changing the coping mechanism. In this multi-contexualised situation the pattern has to be identified.Catering to the mitigation phase in order to reduce the vulnerability, certain schemes have been floated. To name a few, the Integrated Wasteland Development Programme, Drought-Prone Area Programme, Desert Development Programme, Flood Control Programmes, National Afforestation and Ecodevelop-ment Programme, Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme, Crop Insurance, Sampurn Grameen Rozgar Yojana, Food for Work, etc. Thus gender crosscuts the disaster cycle of rescue, relief, reha-bilitation, reconstruction, mitigation and preparedness. It is equally manifested in the sectors of water, sanitation, food, nutri-tion, shelter and availability of non-food items.The immediate impact of a disaster is summed up in terms of the damage to the property and human lives. The more crucial and sensitive issues are addressed while dealing with the people in various stages of the project cycle of disaster management. Yet the myth prevails that a disaster affects everyone equally and similarly. It is essential to understand that a linkage exists with the post-disaster effect and the pre-disaster socio-cultural sce-nario of the affected place. Women are the worst affected in dis-asters along with the children, accounting for nearly 75 per cent of displaced persons. Further, since women are the nurturers in a family and as they continue the same role after a disaster, they are the real victims. Yet there is little sensitivity among the humanitarian aid agencies including the government to assign a separate budget for women. This is important since women are the caretakers of the old, infirm, infants and themselves.ReferencesFinancial Express Bureau (2005): ‘Budget – No Fair Deal for Fair Sex’, March 3, available at http// newsid=42621GoI (2002): Disaster Management – The Development Perspective’ inTenth Five-Year Plan Document (2002-2007), Vol 1, Ch 7, Planning Commission, pp 189-202. Also available at (2000):Gender in Development Programme, Learning and Information Pack, Gender Pack, UNDP, New York.Goyal, Anjali (2005): ‘Women’s Empowerment through Gender Budgeting – A Review in the Indian Context’, Department of Women and Child Development, ministry of human resource development, GoI, New Delhi.

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