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Natural Resource and Disaster Risk Managemente

Kailali Disaster Risk Reduction Initiatives II

June 2009 - September 2010
European Commission through its Humanitarian Aid department under the Fifth DIPECHO Action Plan for South Asia - with co-financing from Mercy Corps
Far West
Over 24,000 Individuals
€ 431,549
Natural Resource and Disaster Risk Management
Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) - Kailali District Chapter

The Challenge

Nepal has been classified as one of the global 'hot-spots' for natural disasters (World Bank, 2005). Landslides and floods (including flash floods) are among the principle recurring hazards, claiming about 300 lives and causing the loss of over 1 billion Nepali rupees in property in an average year. Additionally, most of the country's landmass falls into a high seismic risk scale, increasing the probability of periodic earthquakes. Contributing factors to vulnerability include - lack of awareness and skills; insufficient preparedness, early warning, and mitigation practices; and, the development of settlements and public services in hazardous areas and marginal lands, particularly for the poor.

The Siwalik range in southern Nepal sees an annual sharp rise of water flows followed by a rapid recession. This often causes high flow velocities and little lapse time between the start of a flood and its peak discharge, leaving the population no or very short warning time. The ensuing flash floods damage crops, lives, property and livelihoods.

In September 2008, the Far Western region of Nepal witnessed the worst flooding in 25 years due to heavy late monsoon rains (229mm of rainfall within 24 hrs, and over 400mm of rain fall within 48 hrs). Several flash floods and landslides affected 23,660 households, killing 15 people in Kailali District. The damages caused by these devastating floods to infrastructure, private property and livelihoods were severe. In 2009, the region witnessed two recurrent floods in August and in October. The latter one was more severe causing damages to infrastructure, property and livelihoods. In 2010 the area was hit three times by minor floods, which only to a limited extent affected the project area.

The Opportunity

Mercy Corps Nepal in partnership with Nepal Red Cross Society Kailali District Chapter (NRCS Kailali) piloted the "Kailali Disaster Risk Reduction Initiatives (KDRRI) from November 2007 to April 2009. The project included six communities along the Mohana River and tributaries in the Far Western part of the Terai plain. The project aimed not only to reduce the risk of flooding but also to help communities to prepare for and respond to floods to decrease their dependency on external aid.

KDRRI worked with communities to reduce risk through disaster preparedness planning, establishing an early warning system, small scale mitigation measures and engaging students in Young Rescuer Clubs. Consequently, when severe flooding hit Kailali district on September 20 2008, the communities were well prepared, followed their evacuation plans and conducted search and rescue. As documented in several post flood situational reports, the preparedness saved lives and significantly reduced the loss of household assets compared to neighboring communities. The disaster preparedness committees also help communities to immediately engage in recovery and rehabilitation works.

During the October 2009 flooding, the early warning system and evacuation plan developed through KDRRI proved even more effective. The Young Rescuer Club was efficiently mobilized for evacuation and relief distribution in the communities. The overall preparedness plan of the communities proved very effective.

Communities  engaged in river bank constructionCommunities engaged in river
bank construction
Gauge reader of Mohona river reading water levelGauge reader of Mohona river
reading water level
Communities preparing low cost mitigation worksCommunities preparing low cost mitigation works

Key Interventions

Search and rescue team in actionSearch and rescue team in action

Building upon the lessons of KDRRI I, the KDRRI II project has targeted 10 communities along the Kandara River in Kailali district. The project also included low intensity follow-up activities in six communities assisted under the KDRRI I. The communities were not only the most vulnerable to disaster, but also provided the best opportunities for the replication of project activities and benefits in neighboring communities.

Replicating the best practices of KDRRI I, the aim of KDRRI II was to contribute to the overall disaster risk reduction strategy in Nepal, focusing primarily on support to local communities and institutions. Initiatives increasing resilience and reducing vulnerability were built around capacity building trainings, workshops, and sessions targeting community members, local authorities, teachers and students. Community and school disaster management plans and early warning systems ensured preparedness; search and rescue and first aid teams were mobilized as key players for response in communities and schools; small scale mitigation and bio-engineering measures have reduced vulnerability.

Student-on-simulationStudent on simulation

The project specially focused on expansion and institutionalization of early warning systems (EWS), institutionalizing of EWS at the local and national level, drafting a national strategy for early warning for natural disasters and development of training material for establishment of community based early warning systems. In partnership and with technical assistance from the Department of Hydrology and Metrology the project coordinated to develop community based low-cost flash flood forecasting models. The interventions also included initiatives for sustainability of community based DRR institutions' interventions. Further the project piloted initiatives for re-enforcement of mud-houses and grain storage units, reduce the risks of disaster to vulnerable families and development of bio-engineering riverbank protection schemes.

The project was implemented in partnership with Nepal Red Cross Society Kailali District Chapter. Mercy Corps provided overall guidance, technical, management and monitoring assistance to the partner. Sustainability is enhanced by linking communities to Village Development Committees (VDC) and district support networks and integrating community plans into VDC and district plans. At the local and national levels, the project has worked closely with authorities, organizations and partners, thus ensuring ownership and sustainability.


Lesson learned