Strengthening Flood Risk Management in Bihar

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Opening session

The Expert Consultation Workshop on Improving Flood Risk Management in Bihar was organised by the Water Resources Department (WRD) of Bihar 18-19 February in Patna with support from the World Bank. International experts on flood forecasting, senior officials from the water resources department, experts from the government, non-governmental organisations and academia with long standing experience in flood risk reduction participated. The workshop was conducted with four technical sessions: flood forecasting and early warning, river and sediment management, knowledge management and upcoming projects.

In the technical session on flood forecasting and early warning, Dr Mandira Singh Shrestha, Programme Coordinator of HYCOS initiative of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) shared the establishment of a regional flood outlook in the Himalayas with particular reference to the Koshi flood outlook. The regional flood outlook provides information on the flood discharge based on hydrologic and hydrodynamic models that have been established for the Ganges and Brahmaputra basins. The workshop discussed various technologies, tools and methods for better forecasting of floods.

Participants of the workshop

Floods are a serious problem in the Koshi River basin, and are often known as the ‘Sorrow of Bihar’. Every year, during the monsoon season, floods wreak havoc in the lower plain areas causing loss of lives and property damage. The Koshi River also carries an exceptionally high sediment load. The young and fragile geological conditions of the Himalayan region, along with high intensity rainfall during the monsoon, lead to a high erosion rate in the mountains and the subsequent high sediment load in the streamflow leads to high deposition in the downstream. In 2008 a breach in the Koshi embankment at Kusaha resulted in displacement of more than 70,000 people in Nepal and affected more than four million in India.

After the 2008 disaster the State Government of Bihar undertook a number of activities to address the increasing flood problems in the Koshi basin. As part of the Bihar Koshi Flood Recovery Project WRD is working on strengthening the flood management capacity of the Koshi basin. WRD has been working on enhancing the flood and early warning capacity in the state. The workshop aimed to improve flood risk management and to continue institutional strengthening of WRD.