Mihir Bhatt

Ashoka Fellow
,
Fellow Since 2004
All India Disaster Mitigation Institute

Citation

This profile was prepared when Mihir R. Bhatt was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Disaster Mitigation Institute is an action-learning center that incorporates best practices evolved by different government and nongovernment agencies, donors, and affected communities, and disseminates them. Mihir’s key insight is that affected communities have their own coping mechanisms and learn from repeated disasters and know how to mitigate losses but can’t always use this knowledge effectively. DMI facilitates spreading these insights from one community to another and from one disaster to the next. The communities themselves are treated as partners in disaster mitigation and social security.
In Gujarat, a western state that has been repeatedly subjected to earthquakes, floods, droughts, and communal riots, Mihir’s strategy has been to promote bottom-up, community-based, people-centric disaster risk mitigation. His focus is on helping the poor in disaster-prone areas create secure mechanisms and institutions as part of a comprehensive approach to disaster preparedness and quick recovery. Mihir then works towards aligning the government, citizen sector organizations, and other national and international stakeholders and agencies around these community institutions.
Mihir integrates disaster mitigation with social development and thereby reduces dependence on short-term relief measures that have absolutely no link to social security and development. DMI operates in the large gap that exists between individual charity-driven relief work and big government-sponsored relief schemes. Mihir realized that disasters must be analyzed by the long-term impact they have on affected communities and mitigation must be a continuous process throughout the disaster cycle and not just a separate post-relief stage.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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