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29 Jul 2015 | News

Early warning systems for Mahottari

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Three community-based flood early warning systems (CB-FEWS) were installed at different sites along the Ratu River in Mahottari District in southern Nepal. The systems would alert locals to rising floodwater during the monsoon season and give them time to evacuate if necessary.

The installation took place from 26 June to 2 July under ICIMOD’s Koshi Basin Programme. ICIMOD partnered with Sustainable Eco Engineering (SEE) and Nepal’s Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM)/Community Based Flood and Glacial Lake Outburst Risk Reduction Project (CFGORRP) to select two installation sites in upstream locations along the river: Kalapani at Bahunmara and the Ratu River Bridge along the East-West Highway, 12 kilometers downstream from Kalapani. The third site is approximately 50 kilometers downstream from Kalapani at Auusi Khola in Sarpallo VDC.

At each site, the installation team worked with the local community members to assemble, calibrate, and test the three sensor rods in Ratu River and receivers in the houses of selected caretakers, individuals who are in charge of monitoring the devices. When floodwaters rise, the sensors send a message to the receiver on shore. The caretaker then informs downstream communities and relevant government institutions of the flood danger. During the installation, caretakers were requested to record flood event data. This data will be used to better understand flooding cycles in the district.

On 30 June, heavy rains caused water levels in Ratu River to rise. The systems successfully transmitted the message to the receivers, and warnings were relayed to downstream caretakers. The system will be field tested for at least two flood events to ensure its efficacy and accuracy. With successful operation, the information relayed will be able to provide downstream communities lead time to save lives and livelihoods from future flood disasters.

The installation of CB-FEWS in Mahottari District followed a five-day CB-FEWS training at ICIMOD’s Knowledge Park in early June. While ICIMOD and its partners are involved in the initial stages of CB-FEWS, the goal is to make CB-FEWS primarily community-operated. To this end, ICIMOD and DHM/CFGORRP are in the process of planning an awareness workshop in Mahottari District. The workshop, set to take place in the coming month, will train individuals on what to do in the event of a flood.

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