Waiting for politics at the mercy of river: case study of an enduring community

Type

Journal Article

Author(s)

Bari, S.

Title

Waiting for politics at the mercy of river: case study of an enduring community

Date

2018

Journal

Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal

Abstract

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to highlight the power of protest in quasi-democratic politics and feudal societies; consider deep-rooted impacts of illiteracy, inequality, marginalisation and powerlessness on poor peoples’ behaviour; and analyse how these turn them to believe in fatalism. Design/methodology/approach The paper narrates 12 years of work with isolated and poor communities, which are prone to annual flooding and riverbank erosion. Reflections are based on the years of NGOs’ workers experiences and conclusions. Findings Poor governance stems from deep-rooted multiple inequalities – land/resources, religious knowledge, education, social hierarchies, cultural norms and political power. This leads to fatalism which deters the poor from making the powerful accountable. An outside catalyst is essential to break the ice. Disasters do create opportunities to act against injustices. Research limitations/implications The paper narrates 12 years of work with isolated and poor communities which are prone to annual flooding and riverbank erosion. Practical implications The old community is gone. The Ahmadies constitutionally declared non-Muslims have rebuilt their village. Meanwhile, other families have gone elsewhere. They may have a house of sorts but are landless and have no sustainable income. With spurs, the river may go back and leave their land. Reclaiming their land will be a huge task. Social implications There is a serious need to link civil society based in urban centres with those who live in remote areas, isolated and oppressed, in order to transform a quasi-democracy into a participatory and social democracy. Originality/value When floods hit, erosion accelerates and makes people homeless and landless. Yet, erosion is not considered a disaster. The country lacks public policy to address the issue. This study highlights of the urgent issue of riverbank erosion that could shift policy.

Citation

Bari, S. (2018). Waiting for politics at the mercy of river: case study of an enduring community. Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal. DOI : 10.1108/DPM-06-2018-0187.

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