Monday, October 15, 2012

The Kosi river basin: Reducing flood risk

Prevention Web: Extending across Tibet (China), Nepal and India the Kosi River represents the largest river basin in Nepal. The Kosi River is a powerful river system with a history of shifting directions and causing havoc in Nepal and India. Such is the potential damage that can be caused by the Kosi, it has become known as the “Sorrow of Bihar.” Thousands of families in Nepal and millions in India continue to live in fear that at any moment, the Kosi River might burst its banks and create widespread suffering.

Communities along the Kosi flood plains do not have to think too far back to remember the power and impact a flood can have. In 2008, the Kosi River broke out of its embankment near Paschim Kusaha Village in Sunsari district of Nepal. The ensuing flood affected 70,000 families and displaced 7,000 families in Nepal, while affecting another 3.5 million people in India. The breach of the embankments and ensuing flood were not caused by the monsoon rains.  In fact, the monsoon was below average during that time, so the potential impacts could have been far worse.

The 2008 Kosi River flood is a stark reminder of Nepal’s vulnerability to floods and the need to address this vulnerability through disaster risk reduction and preparedness rather than a focus on relief.

In 2011, the Government of Nepal officially launched the Nepal Risk Reduction Consortium (NRRC). The NRRC is a unique institutional arrangement that brings together humanitarian, development and financial partners to reduce Nepal’s vulnerability to natural disasters. Based on the National Strategy for Disaster Risk Management (NSDRM) and additional consultations, the NRRC established 5 flagship priorities for disaster risk reduction....

The Kosi River flooded in 2008 in Bihar, India, shot by Kumarrakajee, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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