Community Based Approach to Flood Early Warning in West Rapti River Basin of Nepal
About 300 people lose their life each year due to floods and landslides in Nepal with property damage exceeding 626 million NPR on average. Compared to other disasters in Nepal, floods and landslides are the number one natural disaster regarding economic damage and number two in causing loss of lives. The West Rapti River basin is one of the most flood prone river basins in Nepal. The real-time flood early warning system together with the development of water management and flood protection schemes play a crucial role in reducing the loss of lives and properties and in overall development of the basin.
This paper presents an overview of flood problems in the West Rapti River basin, causes and consequences of recent floods and the applicability and effectiveness of the community based approach to flood early warning in Nepal. A community based flood early warning system has been set up with a collaborative effort of the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, Practical Action, local government and non-governmental organisations. Community level disaster management committees have been formed in each of the disaster prone villages. These committees have been brought into a network of District Disaster Relief Committee, local media, the Red Cross, local police, the military units and the flood monitoring and forecasting station of the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology. The disaster management committees have been equipped and trained for warning dissemination, preparedness and immediate response. This proved to be a very effective mechanism to disseminate flood warning and respond immediately during times of disaster.