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Natural Resource and Disaster Risk Management

Response to the 2008 Kailali Floods

Time frame:
September 2008 to February 2009
2,354 households (over 15,000 people) and 3,834 students
Intervention geographical areas:
Kailali District, Far Western Region
Grant amount:
US$ 90,025
OdysseRe Foundation, ITT Watermark (via Mercy Corps internal privately funded emergency response mechanisms)
Nepal Red Cross Society; and community Disaster Preparedness Committees

The Challenge
In late September 2008, torrential monsoon rains swept across Nepal's Far Western Region, causing severe flooding in the southern plains and landslides in the hills. The worst affected district in the Far West was the Kailali district: Within a week, over 160,000 people had been affected by these floods in 42 Village Development Committees. While hundreds were injured in the flooding, and over 25 people killed, the longer term effects of the natural disaster were equally concerning: much of the Fall 2008 rice harvest was lost; thousands of homes were damaged; and, over 100,000 hectares of arable land were inundated with sand, permanently compromising soil quality and causing households to shift to alternative crops; and, many of the water sources were contaminated. Flooding in the Kailali District directly affected communities in which Mercy Corps Nepal had been implementing a disaster risk reduction (DRR) project in partnership with the Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS): Kailali Disaster Risk Reduction Initiatives (KDRRI).

The Opportunity
Working with NRCS and community-level Disaster Preparedness Committees, Mercy Corps was able to respond immediately to search and rescue efforts, and to provide emergency food items. However, information provided by Mercy Corps/ NRCS needs assessments revealed that significant needs remained; that many household assets had been lost; that most of the affected communities' water sources had been submerged by flood waters and mud; and, that agricultural fields had been covered in a heavy layer of silt. Thus there was a need to provide non-food relief items; provide support for early agricultural recovery; clean, renovate or newly construct damaged community water sources; and, raise awareness about good sanitation and hygiene practices. As a result, Mercy Corps mobilized internal emergency funding mechanisms to support these interventions between September 2008 and February 2009.

Key Interventions
The relief efforts included key interventions in the areas of: non-food relief items (NFRI) distribution to displaced families or families that had lost household assets; wheat seed distribution to those families whose seed and/ or in situ crops had been damaged by the flooding; seedling provision for the re-establishment of community nurseries for post-flood bio-engineering efforts; renovation and construction of raised water points (tube wells) which would be protected from inundation; establishing of water point maintenance groups; water quality testing; water harvesting systems to preserve water for emergency shelters; and, hygiene and sanitation campaigns.

In total, the project provided NFRI to 895 familie; wheat seed to 370 families, and to re-establish community-level tree nurseries through the procurement of 21,150 seedlings. Mercy Corps further utilized ITT Watermark funds to renovate and/ or newly construct water points, thereby providing clean drinking water for 1,059 households and eight (8) schools. ITT Watermark funds were also used to test the quality of the water from drillings before the starting any new construction works; to create awareness among the beneficiaries on sanitation and hygiene practices; to establish maintenance groups and maintenance plans for the water points; and, finally, to establish two water harvesting systems adjoining evacuation shelters.

Communities rescued an eldery from flooding in 2008Communities rescued an eldery from flooding in 2008
Communities  planting a green belt for bio-engineering effortCommunities planting a green belt for bio-engineering effort