Bibudh Dhewaju/LI-BIRD

Alerting Flood Prone Community Through Early Warning System

Posted on: 5/31/2016

By: Bibudh Dhewaju, LI-BIRD

A team of Sustainable Eco Engineering (SEE) travelled to Devisthan, Myagdi, to install Community Based Flood Early Warning System. They had just completed installation of flood Early Warning System in Khunga VDC of Baglung District few days earlier.  At the completion of the installation, Shailendra Shakya, Electronics and Communication Engineer of SEE, demonstrated the curious community on the working of the  siren and how the device could be maintained with minimum knowledge by the community itself. 

In an effort to support community of Darbang, a downstream community of Myagdi to reduce the risk of flood, the wireless Early Warning System has been installed through Multi Stakeholder Forestry Programme (MSFP) support on 15 May 2016 at Phedi of Devisthan VDC. The system has been handed over to the communities in the presence of Chief District Officer, District Forest Officer, VDC Secretary, media and other stakeholders. 

Rim Prakash Thapa formally received the receiver through CDO, DFO, DSCO in the presence of stakeholders. Photo: Bibudh Dhewaju/LI-BIRD.

Communities like Darbang that are residing nearby the river banks are at risk and vulnerable to flood, and their lives are dictated by its uncertainty. The fast flowing mountainous  rivers that may come without warning pose great threat to lives, properties and agricultural lands leading to catastrophe. Rim Prakash Thapa, on whose house (located in Devisthan) the receiver unit of the system has been installed, shared his distress, “At times I had to go to the river in the middle of night to observe the level of water.” Thapa and many other people of the community are now relieved by the installation of the system which measures the level of river and alerts the communities when water level in the river crosses the threshold danger level.  

The Community Based Early Warning System provides early warning to the communities at the advent of flood. The system has two units: transmitter and receiver. The transmitter unit is  installed at the bank of an upstream river. The receiver unit is installed at a house about 300 metres from the transmitter. The sensor at the transmitter unit measures the level of water and when the water level is at pre-hazard level, it produces siren at an interval of a minute to the receiver unit. When the water is at danger level, it continuously alerts through the siren. Once the siren is heard signifying the hazard, the person in the house where the receiver is installed has the responsibility to inform the downstream communities about the impending danger of the flood. Through a mechanism involving several stakeholders of the locality, the information of the danger is relayed to the community so that the communities can manage to migrate to safer place (higher grounds). 

This illustration explains the working of Community-Based Early Warning System. Source: Sustainable Eco-Engineering. (Click to expand)

“We have designed and developed the devices of the system in such a way that it can be easily maintained and repaired by the communities themselves,” said Mahendra Man Shakya, managing director of SEE. He had properly trained Mr. Thapa and his family on assembling and dissembling the devices and how the batteries could be replaced. The battery of the system works on solar panel. Mr. Shakya made sure that the family is well aware about the device and now he is confident that all three members of Mr. Thapa’s family have learnt about the device. 

Yam Mati Roka, an active community member of Darbang, shared her delight on receiving the orientation to the communities: “Darbang and the communities around here have been suffering from floods time and again. We won’t be able to avoid natural disasters but we are glad that we will be able to prevent casualties.” She is more than happy to take the responsibility to relay the necessary information to her community once she receives warning of the flood. 

Stakeholders are discussing about the system at the site of transmitter unit. Photo: Bibudh Dhewaju/LI-BIRD.

This low cost system developed by International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) with technical support of SEE, was firstly installed in Nepal by joint collaboration of  LI-BIRD, SEE and  Environmental Camps for Conservation Awareness (ECCA) in Bhurung Tatopani-Myagdi on 12 December 2014 from the financial support of Multistakeholder Forestry Programme (MSFP).

You can also listen to our coverage of installation of Early Warning System at Phedi in LI-BIRDko Chautari Episode 584:

Multi Stakeholder Forestry Programme (MSFP) is a project funded by Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and UK Development for International Development (UKAID) to enhance and strengthen national, regional, and local institutional arrangements that can deliver effective forest sector development.