It has been a year of rains, floods and devastation in most parts of India – North to South and West to East. In 2018, July has witnessed floods in the state of Gujarat and flash floods in Jammu and Kashmir. Kerala was left with over 1 million people in relief camps and close to 400 reported dead. In the same month, Kodagu District of Karnataka has witnessed incessant rains, flooding and followed with landslides.
In August 2018, Assam suffered yet another flooding that left 25000 people displaced. Tropical Cyclone Titli has parts of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh in the month of October and Cyclone Gaja hit Tamil Nadu in the month of November 2018.
In 2019, Cyclone Fani, one of the strongest storms to strike India, in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal, in the last 20 years, has resulted in extensive damage. Odisha government reduced the damage by evacuating a mammoth scale of over a million people to relief camps. It was a commendable effort however the story begins with support required for immediate relief and long-term plans for rehabilitation.
Some of these calamities are attributed to climate change and some argue for lack of sustainable environmental practices. It is debatable and could be discusses at length however the objective of the article is to recommend three strategies for the Board and CSR personnel to be prepared for such eventualities to respond with quick disbursement of CSR grants.
One, allocate a small portion of funds as a CSR strategy in the overall CSR budget towards relief and rehabilitation efforts. It could vary anything between 1% to 2% of the CSR mandatory spend. The recommended range would not disturb overall spend in case of no such eventualities. The unspent grant amount could be tallied with administrative overheads thereby meeting the compliance requirement.
Second, onboard and engage with an NGO that has expertise in disaster management. There are couple of advantages of having a partner registered with the company – it reduced number of days in on-boarding as a partner and quickens response time to relief support. It will also shorten cumbersome process of vendor management that is subject to due diligence, background verification and reference checks. These include keeping records and payment options ready towards the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund, Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, Swachha Bharat and Clean Ganga initiatives.
Third, engage employees in giving to such relief measures, in cash as well as in kind. Company can always match the donation amount. It may not be easy to drive in-kind donation initiatives but worth in building employee loyalty. There are a good number of NGOs out in the open that recycle, upcycle and use kind donation towards building common social infrastructure projects. However, such projects need deeper understanding of how rehabilitation and material-for-work initiatives work for the communities. There’s nothing that should stop trying any of the above combinations for better and quicker help to the communities.
There are no easy solutions with respect to responding to relief and rehabilitation efforts. It should not be seen as a long term solution as relief is onetime and essential for survival. However, there are as many options for rehabilitation efforts beginning from community infrastructure support to livelihood promotion activities.