Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Flood alert data not reaching communities in Nepal

Om Astha Rai in Republica: ...Until last year, there was no early warning system in the Mahakali River basin. This year, just a month ahead of the onset of monsoon, the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), with support from Mercy Corps, an INGO that has been supporting disaster preparedness programs in Nepal, developed early warning system in the Mahakali River basin.

Under the system, two early warning stations were installed in the Mahakali basin -- one in Dattu VDC of Darchula district and another in Sirsha VDC of Dadeldhura district. However, both stations could be useful only for people living downstream of Khalanga of Darchula, the worst-hit place in last year´s flood.

"We have no early warning system as yet," says Bohara, who now leads a group of Mahakali flood victims fighting for adequate relief and compensation from the government. "We are still vulnerable to floods."

Over the last five years, Nepal has made huge progress in collecting real-time information about floods. Today, flood forecasting stations have been set up in as many as 21 places of seven different river basins. Apart from Mahakali, flood forecasting stations are in operation in Karnali, Babai, West Rapti, Narayani, Bagamati, Koshi and Kankai river systems as well.

In these rivers, if water levels rise above warning points, the system automatically sends sound alarms to government authorities and local people. "If we react to these alarms on time, we can save lives as well as properties," says Rajendra Sharma, chief of flood forecasting section at the DHM....

The Chandani Dodhara suspension bridge over the Mahakali River, shot by Shivagoutam, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license 

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