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Transparency and Accountability in Bihar Flood Relief Program

This is not mere a question of Bihar, that is affected by devastating flood. This is a question of responsibility, transparency and accountability. If I give you an account of flood since last 8 days in 12 district of Bihar in 1000 villages, it reflects how responsible and planned we are? More than 50 lakhs people are affected by Bihar flood in 11 districts so far, more than 70 people have died and many missing, many are surviving inside the water logged villages; many villages will be endemic to water born diseases in coming week. Government cannot respond at such large scale without support of other stakeholders; however Government should start mass initiative to call other stakeholders to come up with support. This is one of the areas where more things are yet to be done.

 

The readers will be surprised to know that Government has not come up with a single narrative report, maps of affected villages – districts. The government have not released a single holistic report detailing the flood situation in Bihar. This is the most basic thing that anyone will require. The experts respond that it's a largest flood since 1954, if it's a reality than can anyone please share a single report that states the situation and responses of Government.

 

The report that Department of Disaster Management, Bihar, gives is not transparent. A district wise report has been uploaded in the Department of Disaster Management website, but I swear if a common people can understand that language. Why such information? This information is for whom? I tell you that this is not useful for International organisation, NGOs or even media. It just states the number of villages affected and the number of food packet. What is the actual need and response made against those is not on the website. Is Government not capable of releasing and updating narrative report each day? Is information is less important than relief? Is information and relief cannot go together? I don't believe that Government is less capable; this is only that we don't understand the importance of transparency. I strongly believe that if the correct and easy to understand information is updated on the government websites, it will help government to respond better, it will help international organisation and other civil society organisation to coordinate better with the government in responding to this grim situation. I don't blame anyone for the current situation, no doubt it's a natural calamity but the response will be planned by man. Here we need to plan better and coordinate better and it require information sharing. I appreciate the Government of Bihar response in term of willingness for quick and appropriate response; however the Government can do better by releasing per day information. The Disaster Management website has uploaded press briefing of each day on flood situation in Bihar but unfortunately it is only stating the situation in 3 districts not other eight. The people from other 8 districts will be highly disappointing to know that their districts names are not even getting into the Government press release. Perhaps media, especially Sahara Samay and ETV can play better role and responsibilities by updating holistic Bihar flood situations with video clips on its websites. Both have a lot of video clips but they are using only for telecast. Media has also responsibility towards the people who are watching their channel each and every day. The news channels need to share their news clips and feeds on their website; it will help Government and civil society organisation to respond better. It is a good chance for both channels to promote their news worldwide as many people of Bihar are looking forward to see the flood situation in Bihar and respond.

 
- An Activist from Bihar