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Natural Resource and Disaster Risk Management

Strengthening Capacity of Communities for Disaster Risk Reduction through Early Warning in Nepal (SCORE)

April 2011 ­ September 2012
European Commission Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection (ECHO)/ITT Watermark
Far West (Kailali and Kanchanpur Districts)
23,723 (including 2,845 inhabitants of the four communities in two hilly VDC in Kailali Districts, 9,552 inhabitants of the five follow-up communities (follow-up initiatives) in Kailali District 3,000 target school students in Kailali District, 5,326 inhabitants in eight communities in four VDC in Kanchanpur District, and 3,000 target school students in Kanchanpur District)
Natural Resource and Disaster Risk Management
Nepal Red Cross Society ­ Kailali and Kanchanpur District Chapters (NRCS); Department of Hydrology & Meteorology (DH&M)
Project meets the following
minimum characteristics:

The Challenge

Susceptibility to a wide range of natural and manmade hazards, combined with widespread poverty, make Nepal acutely vulnerable to disasters. 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 earthquake and other manifestations of its instability, in the form of regular rock falls and landslide. Nepal is routinely listed among the 30 most flood prone countries in the world, while being in the top 15 at risk from earthquake.

These physical threats are exacerbated by wide spread poverty. This not only makes populations more vulnerable to disasters when they do occur, but also more likely to be in the areas where they are most likely to strike. Through the pressures of land and general resource scarcity poor populations find themselves living in inherently vulnerable locations and environments.

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 localized landslides affecting remote hill communities are often never even recorded in national disaster statistics.

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

The Opportunity

Mercy Corps have been working in DRR (Disaster Risk Reduction) in Nepal since 2007 concentrating specifically on 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. 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 river bank erosion. Mercy Corps also has an ongoing schools focused DRR programme in the same areas.

Combined with a range of other initiatives, such as evacuation planning, rescue training, water point and livelihood assets protection and general awareness raising initiatives these interventions, all encompassed within a 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

SCORE aims to target vulnerable communities in both hilly and Terai VDCs. In Kailali, where extensive experience has already been gained, the primary focus of the project has now shifted from the Terai towards the needs of hill based communities. Here the threat of localized landslide is at its greatest. While the introduction of mitigation methods is reducing these vulnerabilities the aim is to also pilot landslide monitoring and prediction initiatives, so that longer term genuine landslide EWS can be established. These aspects of the project are encompassed within a broader CBDRR approach which started with awareness and education activities before moving on to training and planning processes. Elsewhere in Kailali five VDCs where Mercy Corps has worked previously are being further supported, through refresher training and the on-going development of their flood EWS and response mechanisms. In all communities, where they do not already exist, emergency kits and equipment, and NFRIs (non-food relief items) are being distributed or stock piled, with appropriate training given in there maintenance and use. At District level existing pre-monsoon plans and District level EWS committees are being assisted, both through the direct support of Mercy Corps and its partner the NRCS, and the facilitation of assistance from the DH&M.

In Kanchanpur, where little previous DRR work has been attempted, the learning and experience of flood prone Kailali communities has been built upon and replicated. The project particularly targets the establishment of EWS and the further development of bio-engineering practices among previously un-served populations. The latter are benefitting from the development of community managed plantations, propagating plant varieties which provide seedlings for bio-engineering purposes which also have value for commercial sale. By emphasizing these financial benefits the long term sustainability of the wider project is hoped to be ensured.

Communities mapping for vulnerability capacity assessmentCommunities mapping for vulnerability capacity assessment
Communities working for river bank mitigation at MohanpurCommunities working for river bank mitigation at Mohanpur

Table 1: List of the SCORE Project VDCs, households and population in Kailali

VDCs Households Population
Nigali 157 710
Sahajpur 379 2,135
Ramsikar Jhala 400 2,639
Dharak 183 1,317
Pahalmanpur 141 1,110
Kailad 393 2,692
Bhajani 296 1,794
Total 1,949 12,397

Table 2: List of the SCORE Project VDCs, households and population in Kanchanpur

VDCs Households Population
Dekhat Bhuli 152 1,170
Krishnapur 398 2,783
Parasan 105 611
Tribhuwan Basti 109 762
Total 764 5,326

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 water user committees, the further development of indigenous based building technologies which offer greater resilience and water resistance, and the establishment of emergency revolving funds. As in Kailali these have been preceded by a range of awareness and training activities targeting both the wider population as well as schools, non-formal education groups, women and other marginalized groups.

At the district level the project has a particular focus on support to the existing WASH cluster and the recently established EWS committee at central levels.