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Natural Resource and Disaster Risk Management

Strengthening Actions for Fostering Resilience through Early Warning and Risk Sensitive Planning in Nepal (SAFER-Nepal)

March 2013 – August 2014
European Commission Humanitarian Aid &Civil Protection (ECHO)
Far West (Kailali and Kanchanpur Districts)
3,741 Households; 23,293 Individuals
EURO 388,671
Natural Resource and Disaster Risk Management
Nepal Red Cross Society - Kailali and Kanchanpur District Chapters (NRCS); Nepal National Social Welfare Association (NNSWA)

The Challenge

Susceptibility to a wide range of natural and human-induced hazards, combined with widespread poverty, make Nepal acutely vulnerable to disasters. Nepal is ranked 30th in terms of vulnerability to flood and 11thin the world in terms of vulnerability to earthquakes (UNDP/BCPR, 2004). Regular climatic events such as the annual monsoon bring flooding to the country’s major river systems with evidence that the impacts of climate change may be adding to the severity and frequency of these events each year. Geologically, the country is also fragile, the youth of its mountain ranges giving rise to earthquakes and other manifestations of its instability in the form of regular rock falls and landslides.

These physical threats are exacerbated by widespread poverty. Nepal is placed 142nd in the Human Development Index (HDI 2007/2008). Poor individuals, families and communities possess negligible capacity to face a disaster and its consequences, according to the Nepal Strategy for Disaster Risk Management (2009).

While larger scale threats are now being taken seriously throughout the country, smaller, day-to-day disasters are widespread and still largely ignored. The impact of flash floods in small catchment river basins and localised landslides affecting remote hill communities are often never even recorded in national disaster statistics.

SAFER is working to address these types of threats by working with communities on complex river systems and in landslide-prone hill locations.

The Opportunity

Mercy Corps have been working in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in Nepal since 2007, concentrating specifically in the Far Western Region. Working through its local partner, the Kailali Chapter of the NRCS, it implemented two major programmes between November 2007 and September 2010 funded by ECHO through the IV and V DIPECHO Action Plans for South Asia. These programmes piloted the establishment of community-managed flood early warning systems (EWS) in Far Western Nepal and carried out ground breaking work in bio-engineering as a response to riverbank cutting and erosion. Similarly, Mercy Corps implemented the Strengthening Capacity of Communities for Disaster Risk Reduction through Early Warning in Nepal (SCORE) Project, also funded by ECHO through its DIPECHO VI Action Plan for South Asia from April 2011-November 2012. Under this project, it extended the community-based flood early warning system into Kanchanpur district and piloted the Landslide Early Warning System in two VDCs of Kailali. Mercy Corps also have an on-going schools-focused DRR programme in the same area, namely Supporting the Role of Schools in Disaster Risk Reduction (SRSD) in Kailali district.

Combined with a range of other initiatives, such as evacuation planning, early warning and search and rescue training, water point and livelihood assets protection and general awareness raising initiatives, these interventions, all encompassed within the broader Community-Based Approaches to Disaster Risk Reduction (CBDRR), have demonstrated that the condition of even the most vulnerable community can be greatly improved and their resilience enhanced.

The approach

Bio-engineering mitigation work

SAFER Nepal aims to target vulnerable communities in both hilly and Terai VDCs. The overall objective of the project is ’to reduce vulnerability, increase resilience and promote a culture of risk reduction among communities and institutions vulnerable to natural disaster in Nepal’.

In Kailali and follow-up communities of Kanchanpur, where extensive experience has already been gained, the primary focus of the project has now shifted from extending and institutionalising Flood EWS in 5 more communities of two new VDCs. Similarly, the project also aims to prepare, review or update the Local Disaster Risk Management Plan as per the needs of the VDC level Disaster Risk Management Plans by using Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development guidelines. Elsewhere, eleven VDCs of Kailali and four VDCs of Kanchanpur, where Mercy Corps has worked previously, are being further supported through refresher training, the on-going development of their flood EWS and response mechanisms and the preparation, update and review of Local Disaster Risk Management Plans.

At the district level, existing pre-monsoon plans and District level EWS committees are being assisted, both through the direct support of Mercy Corps and its partners the NRCS and NNSWA, and with assistance from the DH&M. Similarly, the project will be working for the establishment of a District Early Warning Operation Center (DEOC) in Kanchanpur and the strengthening of the existing DEOC in Kailali. It will also work to link the key stakeholders of early warning systems from communities to VDCs, leading to the DEOC and National Early Warning Operation Center (NEOC), which will enhance the scaling up and institutionalisation of EWS. The project also aims for the development and implementation of a joint inclusive Community Based Disaster Preparedness Model in compliance with the Local Disaster Risk Management Plan and Flagship 4’s 9 minimum characteristics. The project also has a particular focus on building up the capacity of the relevant stakeholders and use of the trained stakeholders for the establishment, enhancement and replication of EWS.

At the national level, the project will be advocating for the approval of a National Early Warning Strategy and DRR mainstreaming guidelines by the Government of Nepal.

In five new communities of Shankarpur and Pipaladi VDCs in Kanchanpur, the project will target the formation of CDMCs, preparation of Disaster Management Plans, forming and training various task forces and the expansion of CBEWS.

Communication Channel

Table 1: List of the SAFER VDCs, households and population in Kailali
VDCs Households Population
Nigali 157 710
Sahajpur 379 2,135
RamsikarJhala 400 2,639
Dharak 183 1,317
Pahalmanpur 141 1,110
Khailad 395 2692
Pabera 108 750
Fulbari 67 364
Hasulia 139 896
Ratanpur 55 447
Bhajani 296 1,794
Total 2,320 14,854

Table 2: List of the SAFER VDCs, households and population in Kanchanpur
VDCs Households Population
DekhatBhuli 152 1,170
Krishnapur 398 2,783
Parasan 105 611
TribhuwanBasti 109 762
Sankarpur 111 937
Pipaladi 546 2,176
Total 1,421 8,439

In line with Mercy Corp’s overall approach, these interventions are being complemented by a comprehensive range of CBDRR activities, including the retro-fitting of flood-resistant hand pumps, the formation of women empowerment centres, further maintenance of bio-engineering mitigation activities, the further development of indigenous-based building technologies, which offer greater resilience and water resistance, and the establishment of emergency revolving funds. As in previously targeted communities in Kailali and Kanchanpur, these have been preceded by a range of awareness and training activities targeting both a wider population as well as schools, non-formal education groups, women and other marginalized groups.