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Vulnerable South Asian communities gear up to fight floods (Environment Feature)

IANS  |  Patna 

Vulnerable communities in four South Asian countries across the (HKH) region are hopeful and confident of fighting floods this monsoon, thanks to community-based (CBFEWS).

They have joined hands with an international organisation that set up in flood-prone and in India, Mahotrati in Nepal, Baghlan in and Gilgit-Baltistan in

is part of an international drive to boost resilience and adaptation to climate change. It aims to save lives and support sustainable development by enabling the most vulnerable to benefit from effective ahead of floods and floods. This is seen as a powerful and effective tool to reduce risks and to enhance the resilience of vulnerable communities.

At the onset of the this year, funds were raised to repair a community-based early warning system that had been damaged along the near the Nepal-border. The funds were raised by Yuganter, a local NGO, and community representatives led by the Mukhiya (village head) of Shrikhandi, "We have come together as a community to take ahead an initiative to alert and warn us before floods," Purnima told IANS on the telephone.

The system was repaired by Kathmandu-based (ICIMOD) and Sustainable Eco Engineering (SEE), in partnership with

"provides that extra time to the communities, which helps them prepare to save their lives and livelihoods. Timely preparedness is the key for a successful CBFEWS," Neera of the ICIMOD told IANS.

She said communities are the first to both bear the brunt and respond to floods and floods. "However, we have rarely been able to provide early warning messages on time to the people who are most vulnerable."

Pradhan, a water and adaptation specialist, explained how the system works. Its mechanics begin with a sensor rod that is calibrated in consultation with the local communities to the specific conditions of the landscape and river and installed in an upstream section of a flood-prone river.

When water levels begin to rise during the monsoon, the sensor sends a message in the form of a light and a loud buzzing noise to a receiver located at the nearby house of a resident who has volunteered to be the system's local caretaker.

"When the water is rising to dangerous levels, the caretaker calls or sends a text message to the numbers on a contact list of individuals downstream as well as the adjacent community and government institutions to inform them of the potential flood," said Pradhan.

A CBFEWS provides at least four hours of lead time for vulnerable communities to respond to approaching floods. The systems, which rely on technology and human operators, have saved lives and property and established goodwill between upstream and downstream communities otherwise unknown to each other. During the 2017 floods, CBFEWS helped save 17 children along the Koshi River, in and

ICIMOD provided monitoring devices and established CBFEWS with its partners. It will establish another CBFEWS in the river basin in and provide technical support to to establish a CBFEWS in the basin of Nepal

Till date ICIMOD, partners, and local governments have come together to save lives from flash floods by installing 11 such in nine tributaries of the Bramhaputra, Indus and Koshi rivers in Afghanistan, India, and

With climate change a reality now and the region witnessing an increase in disaster-like extreme weather such as floods and flash floods, a community-based flood early warning system is the cheapest and easy way to adapt to the change.

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First Published: Wed, August 01 2018. 12:04 IST