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Natural Resource and Disaster Risk Management

Disaster Risk Reduction and WASH Interventions in Far-Western Nepal(DAWN)

June 2011 – August 2012
Far-West (Kanchanpur District)
385,187 inhabitants
$ 168,647
Natural Resource and Disaster Risk Management
Nepal Red Cross Society, District Chapter Kanchanpur

The Challenge

Kanchanpur District in the Far Western region of Nepal is witnessing a shift to more unpredictable and severe annual flooding. For the past four years, these areas were repeatedly hit by floods with the most severe flood of the past 25 years occurring in September 2008. The damage caused by these floods to infrastructure, private property and livelihoods is severe. In addition, during times of flooding health institutions report a dramatic increase of diarrhea due to inundated and contaminated water sources, lack of access to safe drinking water, and poor sanitation and hygiene practices. As a result of lack of access to safe water and sanitation facilities, the effects of waterborne disease weigh high. In addition to microbiological quality, ingestion of arsenic contaminated ground water has also been reported.

The Opportunity

The overall goal of the DAWN project is to increase Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) knowledge and mainstream DRR into WASH interventions in the most vulnerable communities of Kanchanpur through community awareness, small-scale mitigation works and district-level contingency and disaster preparedness planning. The project brings innovative strategies through the role of women to promote DRR and WASH practices; bio-engineering initiatives to mitigate risks associated with flooding; and community established revolving emergency and maintenance fund that will feed back into sustaining bio-engineering planting and maintaining water supply systems.

Promote DRR and safe WASH practices with women’s groups and through the non-formal education sector

One of the schools in KailaliMira Rana, ManisaRana, Bhattari Devi Rana of the Banara women's group

The project is building on existing gender inclusive groups to form and train Water and Sanitation sub-committees under the Disaster Management Committee (DMC) structure - the government’s national strategy for disaster risk management at the community level. Mercy Corps has formed Water and Sanitation sub-committees that are led by women with a target of 75% female membership. Mercy Corps is working through these Water and Sanitation sub-committees to build capacity and understanding of risk knowledge, vulnerability, and disaster management, with a concerted focus on water and sanitation risks related to disasters.

Raising awareness about risk and creating an understanding of the underlying factors are crucial in reducing vulnerability. At the same time, increased public awareness on WASH behavior is an important precursor for the communities to avoid or reduce the incidence of water borne diseases. Public awareness campaigns are being carried out in flood prone communities through various mediums such as door-to-door outreach, street drama performances, and radio programs. Mediums and information materials have been chosen to appropriately target illiterate adults.

Develop innovative small-scale disaster mitigation projects at the community level

In consultation with the District Water Supply and Sanitation Division (DWSSD) and the DMCs, the project is identifying sites for construction of raised water points based on likelihood to be affected duration of yearly inundation and the level of water-related health problems. Hand pumps on platforms raised to the highest experienced inundation level are being installed to make the water points more resistant to contamination. In cases where arsenic contamination is found, Mercy Corps is responding by piloting low cost bio-sand arsenic filters. Low-cost arsenic filters, based on the biosand/Kanchan model, have been introduced to reduce arsenic levels in drinking water sources to below the 50ppb (parts per billion) level. The innovative low cost technology involves the filtration of water through sand, iron (household nails), and gravel in either clay pots or plastic buckets.

One of the schools in KailaliA project beneficiary with low-cost arsenic filter

The project is working towards establishing bio-engineering initiatives to mitigate risks associated with flooding. The communities proposed for bio-engineering works are those which are settled along rivers and are at risk of yearly flooding. Mercy Corps defines bio-engineering as low-cost, low-tech, easy to sustain and replicate interventions that utilize locally available plants to protect river banks, coupled with deep rooted plants on the slopes and top of the banks to reduce erosion. The project is exploring the feasibility establishing a nursery of plants used for bio-engineering will be produced by within the community which will be managed by the women-led Water and Sanitation sub-committees; as well as introducing species for bio-engineering interventions that have a dual purpose of mitigating the impact of floods while at the same time generating profit.

Strengthen district-level contingency and disaster preparedness plans by supporting the Water and Sanitation Cluster

Under the cluster approach, the District Administration Office (DAO) in Kanchanpur, and its mandated committee for disaster preparedness and response, the District Disaster Relief Committee (DDRC), have developed and adopted a disaster contingency plan. The Water Sanitation and Hygiene Cluster is positioned to respond with hygiene and temporary sanitation measures to people affected by disaster. Mercy Corps is working with the Water Sanitation and Hygiene cluster members and to mainstream DRR into water and sanitation interventions through the revision of their contingency and disaster preparedness plans. Mercy Corps is also supporting the Water and Sanitation Cluster in pre-monsoon planning.

For more information please contact:


P.O. Box 24374 DAWN Project
SanepaChowk Far Western Area Office
Lalitpur, Nepal   Dhangadhi-5, Hasanpur
Tel: ++ 977-1-555 5532   Kailali, Nepal
Fax: ++ 977-1-555 4370  Tel: ++ 977-91-526923
Email: info@np.mercycorps.org
Fax: ++ 977-91-521415