Ratu River Communities Prepared for Flash Floods

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Local women cross Aukshi Khola near Sarpallo

A team from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) visited community based flood early warning system (CBFEWS) sites along the Ratu River in early August 2016 to check on instruments and document community experience with the system during the 25 July flood. 

The team inspected and calibrated all instruments and conducted comprehensive interviews with caretakers, gauge readers, warning recipients, Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM)/Community Based Flood and Glacial Lake Outburst Risk Reduction Project (CFGORRP) officials, and citizens living in the flood prone areas to understand their response to the experience.

Caretakers and information recipients said the warning generated by the CBFEWS helped them alert vulnerable communities before flood waters could reach them. Similarly, people living in the flash flood risk area reported the CBFEWS not only warned them of the approaching flood but also trained them how to respond.

Ram Kripal Mahato of Pashupatinagar said a warning call received from Mahendra Bikram Karki, a caretaker & gauge reader at Lalghadh, helped him alert his neighbours giving them time to reach higher ground. Mahalo said floodwaters reached the bank of Pashupatinagar 30 minutes after he received the call. 

After receiving a warning call from Mahendra Bikram Karki, Raj Kumar Mahato, a caretaker in Sarpallo, sounded a hand-operated siren provided by DHM/CFGORRP. The warning allowed the village task force time to assemble at an evacuation shelter recently constructed with support from DHM/CFGORRP. Fortunately, the flood did not reach the pre-defined danger level. Mr Mahato said the earlier training had improved the preparedness of the community for flood risks. 

The CBFEWS in Ratu River has been jointly piloted by Nepal’s Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM)/Community Based Flood and Glacial Lake Outburst Risk Reduction Project (CFGORRP) and Koshi Basin Initiative, ICIMOD since 2015.