The Tide and Wind Information system which we started an year ago in G-Plot panchayat area of Patharpratima, South 24 Parganas District, West Bengal had spread to neighboring Brajabhallavpur panchayat area too. In G-Plot the non-profit organization IDASS was helping CKS for field coordination, and in Brajabhallavpur, Sabuj Sangha and Concern Worldwide jointly supported for the same. Now, this has been recognized by DIP-ECHO, the European Commission for Humanitarian Aid supporting Disaster Risk Reduction programs in the country, as a best model that can be followed and replicated.
Much of early warning in India is generic and non-actionable. This means, people get general information about the cyclone. However, they do not know either the possible impact of the wind speed on the community or the height of the tides at vulnerable points and ferry Ghats (Ghat is the local word for a wharf/jetty). We are working with our partners to ensure that people get access to as much scientific accurate information as possible in a way that is understood. Center for Knowledge and Skills (CKS) is the resource agency working with the communities in streamlining the system. Community members, boatmen, fisher folk and early warning task force members were oriented to the global positioning system handheld devices. GPS readings for specific points were then taken and coordinates sent to the Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) for incorporation into their own management system. At INCOIS computer scripting and satellite information management process takes about 7-10 days. Following which INCOIS generates tide and wind forecasts for next 3 days for the entire West Bengal coast, with locations segregated. The data are sent to the partner organization Center for Knowledge and Skills (CKS) who then sends out a SMS every evening to volunteers (often a shop keeper, a school teacher or a member of the Ghat committee) in the community. The message giving details of wind speed and tide level for the next 3 days are updated on manually operated display boards placed on 10 different ferry Ghats and markets where they are visible to everyone. The manually operated display board has the following information which is color coded.
· The dates for which the information is given
· The expected height of the highest high – tide.
· The warning level (Green / Yellow / Red ) for the location (in terms of tide height)
· The expected maximum wind speed
· The direction of wind speed
· The warning level (Green / Yellow / Red ) for the location (in terms of wind speed
After the message is received by the early warning group it is further disseminated to school and community members through the use of Flags, sirens and megaphones by the warning task force members at school and community level.
CKS would be happy to partner with other organizations for strengthening the system in the states of West Bengal and Odisha.