Fourth regional hands-on training on community-based flood early warning systems

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Floods and flash floods in the Hindu Kush Himalaya cause considerable loss of lives and property, particularly during the monsoon. To address such flood risks and enhance the resilience of vulnerable communities, ICIMOD and its partner organizations have initiated community-based flood early warning systems (CBFEWS). A CBFEWS is an integrated community-managed system of tools and plans that detects and responds to flood emergencies. ICIMOD has developed a people-centric CBFEWS that emphasizes four essential elements of early warning systems: risk knowledge and scoping, community-based monitoring and early warning, dissemination and communication, and response capability and resilience.

The fourth regional hands-on training on CBFEWS – conducted in Kathmandu from 15 to 19 May 2019 – provided technical expertise and conceptual knowledge to different stakeholders. (Photo credit: Jitendra Raj Bajracharya/ICIMOD)

ICIMOD provided flood monitoring devices and established CBFEWS with its partners in Assam and Bihar in India; Mahottari and Siraha in Nepal; Baghlan in Afghanistan; and Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan. ICIMOD will establish another CBFEWS in the Kabul River basin in Afghanistan and provided technical support to the Rural Municipality of Tilathi Koiladi and Sabal Nepal in Saptari to establish a CBFEWS in the Khando River at Saptari, Nepal. 

ICIMOD conducted its fourth regional hands-on training on CBFEWS from 15 to 19 May 2019. Twelve participants comprising caretakers, flood warning recipients, representatives from local government and non-governmental organizations, and members of CBFEWS implementing communities and organizations were trained on installing and using the flood-monitoring device and establishing CBFEWS. The course provided technical expertise as well as conceptual knowledge about planning for CBFEWS holistically and concentrated on the use of a flood early warning device designed by ICIMOD with support from Sustainable Eco Engineering (SEE). The device was invented in 2008 as a simple wired device that triggered an alarm during high flows; it now features a telemetric system that reads, records, and transmits water-level data in real time. As a result, the lead time has also increased significantly.

Trainees practise operation of a flood early warning device designed by ICIMOD. (Photo credit: Sundar Kumar Rai/ICIMOD)

CBFEWS implementation is supported by the Government of Australia under the following ICIMOD initiatives: Strengthening Water Resources Management in Afghanistan (SWaRMA); the Koshi Basin Initiative under the Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio (SDIP) for South Asia in Nepal and India (Bihar); and, under the Indus Basin Initiative in Pakistan. In Assam, India, CBFEWS implementation is supported by the Governments of Norway and Sweden under the Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Programme (HICAP). ICIMOD’s core donors in Afghanistan are also involved in the implementation.