In Rome, Naveen to Expound the World Odisha’s Success Mantra on Disaster Management and Food Security

Bhubaneswar: The two most important aspects that play a pivotal role in a state’s development are disaster risk reduction and ensuring food security to the citizens. Both these aspects are intertwined and responsible for all the other development parameters of the state. In the 21st century, developing countries like India are most impacted by the natural disasters and the subsequent impact on food security of the masses. While man has no control over Natural Disasters, the most the governments can do is to reduce the risk coming out of the disasters and ensure its people all round security, the priority being food. There are very few examples available today where we can see the state taking up disaster risk reduction and food security as priorities during the times of natural disasters. And Odisha remains the best example on how to save lives and ensure people are not impacted with hunger. Odisha’s tryst with both the aspects remains a paradigm for the world. In the last two decades, it has successfully demonstrated that risks can be reduced drastically with proper implementation of strategies. Odisha has created a benchmark in both the management of Natural Disasters and ensuring food security for its people. While millions of people have been saved from the perils of disasters, millions of others have been taken out of hunger. Under the leadership of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, the state of Odisha has achieved what very few other states and countries could achieve for their people.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is on a foreign trip during which he has important engagements with people and institutions who are trying to make the world safer and hunger free. Naveen is scheduled to meet the Executive Director of World Food Program David Beasley and the senior leadership of the UN wing which is the world’s largest humanitarian organization focused on hunger and food security. The visit is a result of the invitation the World Food Program (WFP) had extended to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to visit its Head Quarters in Rome and share the transformative initiatives of Odisha in the field of food security and disaster management.

In the last two decades, Odisha has transformed itself from a state being dependent on others for its food security, into a food surplus state adding considerably to India’s public distribution system today. On the disaster risk reduction front, Odisha has been successful in reducing the loss of lives due to natural disaster from more than 10000 deaths in 1999 Super Cyclone to just three causalities in 2021 Yaas Cyclone. Odisha is now a model in disaster management acknowledged by the United Nations.

There has been a long and cordial partnership between the World Food Program and Odisha. The two are engaged in successfully reducing hunger from Odisha and ensuring food security to all. The Chief Minister will also deliberate with the WFP officials on future projects that will further help the state in ensuring food security in a sustainable manner.

On the Disaster Management and risk reduction front, Odisha’s achievements have been tremendous and remain a text book case of perfect implementation. Today, when we look back at the past two decades, we have before us Odisha’s transition from a state that was most affected by the natural disasters to a state that is most prepared to face them. This transformation could be achieved in this short span of time because of the genuine intentions of the state government led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and the unwavering commitment of the administrations involved. With an aim to achieve zero causality and minimum destruction to property, the Odisha Government developed a resilient disaster management mechanism that still holds as the best in the world.

The journey of Odisha’s transformation that began in the aftermath of the Super Cyclone in 1999 saw its biggest test in the form of cyclone Phailin in 2013. Odisha’s management of this Cyclone is regarded as the most successful one in the world in the near past. Years of meticulous planning and exhaustive ground works helped Odisha to spectacularly reduce the number of deaths and minimize the loss to property. Odisha evacuated about a million people before the landfall of Cyclone Phailin – the highest ever emergency evacuation in the country for disaster management. The coordinated efforts of the OSDMA, Revenue and Disaster Management Department, Ganjam District Administration and the Meteorological Department augmented well and it saw a complete textbook operation. Record numbers of people were shifted to the safe Cyclone shelters and safer buildings in record time resulting in massive decrease in the number of casualties. The government made provisions for over 4,000 free kitchens where sufficient stock of dry foods, food grains and water made available. In total, 185 medical teams were deployed to all affected areas and 338 medical centers were set up in emergency. The ODRAF, District Authorities, Local Authorities, National Disaster Response Force, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Odisha State Armed Police (OSAP), Fire Services and the Indian Air Force(IAF) were mobilized for the relief and rescue operations. All major roads affected by the cyclone were cleared within 24 hours of the landfall.

What played the most important role in the management of Phailin is the war room like crisis resolution. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was in continuous touch with the officials responsible for the management of the Cyclone such as the State Relief Commissioner, Police, District Collector, officials of the Revenue and Disaster Management Department and the Center including the Prime Minister. VK Pandian, Private Secretary to CM Naveen Patnaik was instrumental in the flawless coordination of the various departments during the biggest natural disaster of the time.

The Odisha government’s efforts in identifying safe buildings, construction of new cyclone shelters, planned evacuation routes, evacuation protocols and improved coastal embankments helped in minimizing the impact of Phailin. The most important aspect of this exercise was the community participation. The Revenue and Disaster Management Department was fully prepared to handle the situation with men and material.

The management of the Phailin became one of the best chapters in India’s disaster management. The United Nations too recognized Odisha’s efforts and commended Odisha Government for the management of cyclone Phailin. The UN Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG) for Disaster Risk Reduction Margareta Wahlström spoke to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and said “Odisha’s handling of the very severe cyclone will be a landmark success story in disaster management.” The state government almost achieved its mission zero casualty.

On the Food Security front too, Odisha has achieved incredible success. Its strategies to lift people from hunger and poverty have worked wonders in the last two decades. Odisha’s transformative initiatives and schemes have resulted in massive drop in poverty by about 25 per cent, bringing millions out of poverty in the last two decades.

Ensuring proper nutrition is a precursor to giving food security. As part of its efforts to ensure food security, the Government of Odisha has made substantial investments through numerous schemes. In fact Odisha is the only state in the country which has its own Nutrition Budget. Odisha’s nutrition expenditure has increased to Rs. 33,012.18 crore during 2021-22. The state aims to improve nutrition level in children, women and improve the overall health of the state.

According to Bishow Parajuli, WFP’s Representative and Country Director, India, “WFP has been working closely with the Government of Odisha and other stakeholders around the common vision of addressing malnutrition, improving food security and livelihood of small farmers, especially women. The three new partnerships build on this exceptional synergy by bringing in an added focus on monitoring impact, gender analysis, and research.”

He has also said that “Odisha has been a centre of innovative pilots and schemes for improving food and nutrition security. The world has taken note of the innovative programmes launched by Odisha, and how these schemes provided a food security lifeline during the current pandemic times.”

Various innovations such as Application of biometric technology, rice fortification, nutritious food in Mid Day Meal (MDM) and Anganwadi centres, state food security programmes, women-led take home ration production model are some of the interventions that have helped Odisha ensure food security to its masses.

The most important intervention by the Government of Odisha in reducing hunger and improving food security in the recent years is the implementation of the KALIA scheme. The Scheme has been financially helping the farmers of the state in production of food grains and improving their incomes. The Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation schemeis benefiting around 51 lakh farmers of Odisha including 14 lakh landless agricultural labourers. The Government of Odisha has already transferred more than Rs 6000 Crore to the bank accounts of the farmers. The step has helped the farmers to produce more crops and thereby leading to food security for millions.

Along with the National Food Security Act benefits, the Odisha Government has its own State Food Security Scheme that is providing food grains to more than 8 lakh beneficiaries who are left out from the central scheme. During the difficult times of Covid-19 pandemic, Odisha extended a helping hand to the poor people by giving financial assistance to sustain livelihood.

Launched in 2015, Odisha’s Ahaar scheme has been reducing hunger in the Urban areas of the state. The government has been providing highly subsidized nutritious food to millions of people. Likewise, the mid day meal scheme for school children and Anganwadi Centers have helped ensure food security for millions of children.

Odisha has the requisite resources to lift hunger and ensure food security. It is also committed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals -2 targets. Odisha’s remarkable economic growth has helped it to accelerate poverty alleviation and thereby securing food for all. Odisha’s Successful implementation of the ICDS, MDM and TPDS under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) has been well appreciated at various levels. For most of the ICDS services, Odisha is among some of the best performing states in the country. Through MAMATA scheme, the Government of Odisha has also taken initiatives to provide further conditional cash maternity benefits to pregnant and nursing mothers for compensating them for wage losses during pregnancy and delivery and also for being able to avail governmental services on nutrition, health and education. The scheme has also got special provisions for the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG).

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