Where we work | Blogs

  • Better veterinary services in remote areas


    October 12th, 2017

    The Livestock Epidemio Surveillance Programme for Eastern Sudan (LESP-ES) aims to establish effective  epidemio-surveillance and control of trans-boundary animal diseases and priority diseases and link with national institutional frameworks through strengthening capacities for epidemio-surveillance.

    Different activities were conducted to accomplish this including the provision of three check points on the border with Ethiopia, at Basunda in Taya and Galabat as well as Alassera in Guresha.  There are also three interstate check points at Shajarab and Sada  between Gedarif and Kassala State and Khyary between Gedarif and Gezera State.

    In order to provide proper veterinary services at those points, the programme has supplied nine motorbikes at these check points in addition to the three motorbikes already in Gebesha Aburakham and Sefawa to cover the long borders.

    Veterinary technicians were appointed to take responsibility for providing veterinary services and monitoring livestock movements in these vital area, taking into account that livestock  know no borders in their search for pasture and water.

    The programme has helped improve the of skills and experience of veterinary technicians through multiple training courses for those at checkpoints among others.

    Hassan Yousif Abdalla From Guresha was one of these technicians deployed  at the Alassera check point near the Ethiopian border. He expressed his appreciation for the role played by the programme and Practical Action in supporting veterinary services in remote rural areas where it is difficult to find veterinarians because numbers in the state are low.  He said that having an office here was a dream come true. Now it’s much easier to deliver veterinary services and to work with people in different villages as well as those who come asking for help.

    Hassan said that before the motorbikes arrived it was difficult to monitor livestock movements or provide support to pastoralists and animal owners because villages were so scattered  and the roads unpaved.

    “Now I can travel to all surrounding villages and provide veterinary services and meat inspections and to investigate all outbreaks of disease whenever I’m notified.  I can even provide help to pastoralists and animal owners across the border with Ethiopia. They come and ask for help because we are neighbours and have a common weekly livestock market in this area.  The programme had provided me with a mobile phone so anyone can reach me.  I can always ask  the local animal resources directorate for advice when I need it.”

    Hassan said that he provides treatment and extension services even at household level and his work covers more than thirteen villages.  He performs meat inspections at the weekly livestock market and monitors the meat provided at local restaurants for the sake of better public health.

    Hassan is sure of the importance of checkpoints as means of providing veterinary services to poor people in marginalized areas but has some worries about the sustainability of the service after withdrawal programme support.

    Livestock owner Adam Nemer said that the presence of check points in the area encouraged farmers to concentrate on their herds because it is easier now to find support when needed.  He explained:

    “Hassan helps us a lot.  He treats sick animals and provides guidance and advice on how to rear the herd and how to avoid diseases through better nutrition.  He also encourages us to undertake routine vaccination in order to prevent major disease outbreaks.”

    Finally Hassan explained that the caravan should be provided with extra veterinary field tools that would help them in performing their duties.

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • Energy and forced displacement


    September 25th, 2017

    Due to conflicts and environmental change, we are currently witnessing the highest number of displaced people since recorded history. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) there are over 65 million displaced people in the world, with more than 21 million living in refugee camps. This is the highest number of displaced people in recorded history.

    Historically, the application of humanitarian principles of protection and assistance in contexts of forced displacement has focused on the provision of shelter, food, water, sanitation and health. But when people are displaced, they also leave their access to energy services behind. In fact, according to the Chatham House report: The Current State of Sustainable Energy Provision for Displaced Populations, 89% of displaced people living in spaces of temporary or prolonged displacement have no access to electricity at all. It is important to note that access to energy has been a missing pillar in the humanitarian response to forced displacement.

    Practical Action has collaborated with the University of Edinburgh to address this gap through a project on humanitarian energy named; “Energy and Forced Displacement: A Qualitative Approach to Light, Heat and Power in Refugee Camps”, or Displaced Energy in short, which is funded by the UK Research Councils – ESRC and AHRC. This research project is in partnership with the Moving Energy Initiative (MEI) and the UNHCR. MEI is an initiative of the UNHCR, the Department for International Development (DFID), and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), alongside Chatham House – The Royal Institute for International Affairs, and international non-governmental organizations Practical Action and the Global Village Energy Partnership (GVEP). MEI aims to make sustainable energy provision a key part of responses to forced displacement and humanitarian emergency, by designing and piloting new approaches and models for sustainable energy provision among displaced populations.

    The Displaced Energy Project is running simultaneously in Burkina Faso (Goudoubou Refugee Camp) and Kenya (Kakuma Refugee Camp). These sites have been selected because they allow the project to build directly on a quantitative survey of energy access undertaken for the MEI, and because they allow for a comparison of energy cultures. The project is informed by specialists in Social Anthropology and Design at the University of Edinburgh, and Practical Action’s energy researchers are currently collecting 50 case studies of everyday energy practices in the two camps. The Goudoubou refugee camp is located in the Sahel Region, Burkina Faso. Goudoubou hosts over 9,000 refugees. It grew out of political and military unrest that began in Mali in January 2012, which led to a mass exodus of civilians into Burkina Faso. Research by MEI has shown that a household in Goudoubou needs over 100 kilos of firewood per month for cooking alone. But in the camp each beneficiary receives just 12 kilos of firewood, and must buy or forage the rest of the firewood in the scarce environment.

    Kakuma refugee camp is located in Turkana County, northwestern Kenya. The camp is home to approximately 180,000 refugees from neighbouring South Sudan, Burundi, Somalia, Congo and Ethiopia. Also in Kakuma, firewood is the main source of cooking fuel. Every month 10kg of firewood is distributed to the beneficiaries by the UNHCR and their local partners but, as in Goudoubou, distributed firewood meets less than 20% of the domestic energy needs of the households. A new and more sustainable approach to energy provision is therefore needed.

    The objectives of the Displaced Energy Project are to inform future energy policy and practice in the humanitarian sector, and to establish new principals for the design and procurement of energy products and services.  The project uses qualitative research methods to assess in what ways refugees and host communities use and need light, heat and power. Furthermore, the Displaced Energy Project findings will be complimentary to the previously done quantitative MEI study dataset and will provide an even stronger grasp on the beneficiaries’ energy behaviours, needs, desires and routines. Dimensions that are essential, but often overlooked, when designing products, services and humanitarian responses that will actually fit into the beneficiaries’ life.

    Through this project, Practical Action contributes to safe, reliable and sustainable energy solutions, which reduce the vulnerability of refugees and ultimately aid in the rebuilding of their lives.

    By Anna Noëlle Okello and Robert Magori

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • A step forward for women’s empowerment


    September 25th, 2017

    Livestock Epidemic Surveillance Programme (LESP) , funded by the European Community aims to improve awareness and skills of rural livestock producers and other stakeholders in animal health and production.  It is supporting this community initiative in collaboration with the Animal Resources Directorate in Wassat.  They have formed more than 200 women pastoralist committees covering most of the villages in the region, which have been registered as official committees.

    In addition they helped obtain finance from banks with direct support from the Sudan National Bank as part of a national policy to support the livelihoods of the rural poor. Each household was given three sheep to be raised by the family. The Animal Resource Directorate monitors each committee’s monthly payments to the bank and the health of these small herds.  They have conducted several treatment campaigns which have shown to have had a positive impact on the welfare and livelihoods of rural families.

    Practical Action led the process of forming the women’s pastoralist committee network. Building on its legacy of empowering rural communities especially women and contributing to gender equality through mainstreaming gender issues, we aim to build better understanding of the positive role of such networks in fostering better performance.

    In order to help these pastoralist committees rear their small  herds the programme conducted several training courses related to animal health.  Women attending were shown how to judge the proper health condition of their animals, how to identify a sick animal, which diseases should case major concern and their symptoms and treatment.  The importance of notification of disease to the veterinary authorities and vaccination were among other topics covered.

    The committee’s executives were also trained on project management and financial procedures in order to be able to run their own business.

    Consultation between the partners led to the decision to support a veterinary drug store as a revolving fund  managed by the women pastoralist committees network Executive desk, under the direct supervision of  Animal Resources Directorate at Wassat.

    The programme provided office furniture, stationery and drugs while the Ministry of Animal Resources issued a veterinary drugstore license and appointed a veterinary technician to supervise the service.

    The Department of Health in Wassat offered to host the store in their new health clinic at Abu Alnaja.  This clinic with provide pastoral women with drugs and veterinary assistance at a moderate price which, managed wisely will generate revenue for a revolving fund.

    The opening ceremony of the veterinary drugstore took place on 18 September. The Ministry of Animal Resources was represented by His Excellency the Animal Resources Minister as well as the East Sudan office coordinator and LESP-ES local technical advisor, and representatives from Wassat’s legislative council, members of the women’s pastoralist committees and  villagers of Abu Alnaja villages.

    Following the opening of the store, there was an exhibition,  speeches and a drama.  The ceremony was attended by  students of the University of Alneelen’s Faculty of Animal Production on their annual scientific trip, who indicated their appreciation of the idea and the support given to the community.

     

    1 Comment » | Add your comment
  • Big change starts with a small technology- Aashkol


    September 20th, 2017

    Since independence, having had massive development interventions for women empowerment in Bangladesh, but still rural people perceived that technology is something that needs to be handled by men. Similarly, entrepreneurship is believed to men’s sphere. However, aiming to bring some changes in these gendered domains, under EC- PRSIM project (funded by European Commission), we have distributed Aashkol (jute fiber extraction machine) through a joint entrepreneurship model (one male and female member can take lease of the machine fro 3 years). In this entrepreneurship model, women have significant role to play both for unleashing their potential entrepreneurial skills and earn an income. However, it was not easy for community people to see woman leading an enterprise. Sheuli Begum- one of the woman entrepreneurs of the project stated that;

    I am a housewife and people do not see my entrepreneurship skill in positive way. They never encourage to do such thing. Rather people laughed at me. But I know, I can do this.

    Sheuli helping her husband in jute retting

    Sheuli Begum lives in Bozra, Kurigram with her husband and two children. Her husband is a jute farmer, and she is a home maker. From her husband’s income, it is impossible to save any amount for meeting any emergency need. Seasonal income from selling jute fiber, jute stick is also insufficient. Therefore, to meet their regular expenses such as education expenses for the children and medicine for the family members, often they need to borrow money from neighbors. Since they do not have other sources of income, thus it becomes impossible to pay back the borrowed money. Sometimes, she sells her jewelries to pay the indebted money.

    Ashkol is being used for jute extraction

    With such hardship in life, suddenly she came across about a jute extraction machine. She also heard about a project that would select entrepreneur for Jute extraction from their community. She got surprised to know that women would get equal partnership with men in this entrepreneurship. Without any hesitation, she shared her keen interest with her husband. After fulfilling all the requirements and receiving the training, she got the machine from Practical Action Bangladesh.

    During the season, after meeting all the expenses, she earns 1500 taka per day with her jute extraction machine. Since they have got better quality of fiber, thus she hopes to sell the jute fiber with a higher price (in compare with last year). In her words;

    Before, it required many days for jute retting and fiber extraction. Now with this machine, fiber extraction is done immediately and retting also takes less time. Thus, labour and time both are saved. That’s why, we could have made some profits.

    She informs that due to regular rainfall she was unable to dry the broken jute stick. But she has explored an innovative alternative about the raw jute sticks. She has rotten them in compost bin to make organic fertilizer. She will use the fertilizer in the crop. Along with that, she has plan to use the machine in multipurpose way throughout the year to secure income round the year.

    As a concluding reflection, it can be said that women like Sheuli in rural Bangladesh never (or hardly) have opportunity to give a try to develop and run some sort of enterprise. Sometimes, a few of them get development support and try to do like Sheuli in this case. Among them, a few of them become successful (of course many reasons will work behind) and are considered as role model in the community. But there are others as well, who could not make it a success. As many development interventions, now a day are not comprehensive (like in this project, we do not have any activity like community awareness around on gender & entrepreneurship; which  is very important to sensitize the community). Therefore, the problem that Sheuli has highlighted in her first statement will play around and continue creating problems in her way of empowerment. However, we need to continue putting our efforts some way or others. And if we can carefully and dedicatedly deal the issue, then big change may happen from this entrepreneurship initiative around the small technology- Aashkol.

     

    Acknowledgement:
    Md. Rezaul Karim (Community Mobilizer, Kurigram) for data collection & Sayeeda Afrose (Technical Supervisor, Kurigram) for drafting the case study.

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • Coping disasters beyond the border : Nepal-India cross-border flood early warning system


    September 12th, 2017

    Written by: Dinanath Bhandari, Buddhi Kumal, Lok Narayan Pokhrel and Kamal Tripathi


    Saving lives from flood disasters beyond the border is possible through early warning systems. It is demonstrated successfully in three river basins between India and Nepal. Bilateral cooperation at government level could make greater changes.

    While many governments are sharing information on cyclones and are helping in taking preventive measures, south Asian countries are yet to root their efforts in working together to save their people. However, civil society collaboration between Nepal and India has saved lives and assets from flooding. The governments in both countries can do better if they realize the importance of cross-border flood early warning systems. There are already evidences from good practice on the ground inspiring authorities to upscale efforts.

    Different countries, changed names but the pain is the same

    People living along the banks of Karnali (Ghagra in India) and Babai (Saryu in India) share the same exposure to floods. Both have lost relatives, assets and face drudgery brought about by the floods. Nepalese communities have less time to escape as they are in the upstream catchment and the flow is fast with less lag time to prepare and respond to particular flood. On the other hand, communities downstream in India didn’t have any information about impending floods until a few years back.

    NDFR Rescue Team Shifting people to safe areas. Photo: PPGVS

    For last few years flood frequency has been getting higher with record floods in West Rapti and Babai Rivers. Babai had devastating flood in 2014, when 32 people lost their lives in Bardiya, Nepal. In India, the flood broke the Saryu barrage dam and 13 people lost their lives. West Rapti has crossed the danger level several times since 2012, up to six times in some years. Loss of lives, assets and livelihoods was an common phenomenon for the people living in flood plains in Nepal and India.

    Changing floods: changing coping strategies

    However, the situation is changing now. In Nepal Practical Action has been working with communities, civil society organizations and relevant government agencies at local to national level to set up and advancement of community centered flood early warning systems in West Rapti (since 2008), Babai (2008) and Karnali (2010). Since 2016 Nepal’s Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) has started sending text messages directly to the people in flood prone areas based on their rainfall and flood forecast in addition to informing related authorities of Home Ministry at center and sub-national level. This has helped to evacuate people at risk to safer places to prevent loss of lives and movable belongings. An institutional mechanism of community disaster management committee (CDMC) has made the EWS operational thanks to efforts of Practical Action together with the DHM and other many institutions for over a decade.

    Community volunteers rescuing people to safe shelters in Bardiya, Nepal Photo: Nepal Flood Resilience Project

    In India in the downstream, Poorvanchal Gramin Vikas Sansthan (PGVS) has established community based flood early warning system in Gonda, Baharaich and Gorakhpur districts since 2012 with technical support from Practical Action along with its long time partners Nepal Red Cross’s Bardia District Chapter, Center for Social Development and Research (CSDR) and Radha Krishna Tharu Jana Sewa Kendra (RKJS). A generous information sharing by the DHM authorities for humanitarian purposes has made this possible. PGVS has been working together with Nepali NGOs and Red Cross to improve collaboration for information sharing to saving lives in the downstream. Following Nepal’s alert, warning and danger level of floods in the flood forecasting stations in Kusum (West Rapti), Chepang (Babai) and Chisapani (Karnali), calibrations have made to different Indian communities along with lead time calculations. Indian communities receive information via SMS sent by community individuals in Nepal built on informal linkages and watching DHM web pages that display real-time flood and rainfall situation. In the communities, trained volunteers take lead to communicate by hand operated sirens, mega phones and door to door visits.

    The Nepal, India, Bangladesh Floods 2017

    Babai Flood Rating Curve. Source: DHM

    Strong monsoon winds in the second week of August dumped a lot of rainwater in parts of Nepal, India and Bangladesh resulting in huge floods in these countries. Almost every river originating in Nepal enters India. Huge floods in Nepal often cause similar situations for people in parts of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bihar in India. On 12-13 August 2017, there was an unprecedented flood in the Babai and West Rapti rivers in Nepal which soon crossed the border and reached India in few hours. Real-time river level sensor of the DHM recorded that the highest level of flood of Babai in Chepang flood gauge station was 9.98m on 13 August 2017 and of West Rapti in Kusum flood gauge station was 8.87m on 12 August 2017. Both were the highest level of flooding on record.

    Cross border cooperation saved lives

    In the August 12-13, 2017 floods, information sharing in between upstream and downstream communities demonstrated its significance. Indian communities and the organizations take care of potential rainfall in the upstream and frequently watch the DHM real-time information. Indian communities also call to upstream communities in Bardiya and Banke, hydrology stations in Nepal and request to inform them about the level of flood and rainfall status in the upstream. The network members brought this collaboration to a new height in this year. They used internet applications and social media to exchange flood information [insert cross border SMS or WhatsApp]. This enables communities to get timely information about potential risk of flood and authorities to help communities. People and authorities in Bahraich, Gonda, Shravasti, Balrampur, Siddarthanagar and Gorakhpur received flood information in advance through different media.

    Rating Curve of West Rapti. Source: DHM

    The mechanism proved a success to saving lives of many people in above districts in India. The information was generated in Nepal and shared with members in India. “It helped people to save their lives, movable properties and important belongings”, said Krishna Kumar of PGVS in Bahraich. Once the flood crossed warnings these three rivers in Nepal, members shared information actively. Nepali people relayed flood forecasts and updates from the DHM to their Indian counterparts. The network members made use of social media. These media were also used to inform communities in India. “PGVS sent rainfall and flood risk information using WhatsApp, Facebook and group SMS that helped save lives in this severe flooding”, Kamal Tripathi of PGVS shared. “We sent them to task forces at community level, relevant government officials, media and inter-agency groups and it proved a success”. They reached 2500 key persons instantly through these channels helping over 2,000,000 flood vulnerable people in 6 districts in UP prompting them to evacuate in time.

    The Civil Society Network

    These initiatives taken by civil society organizations have received support from journalists, advocates, and members for chamber of commerce and industries – the business sector in Nepal and India to strengthen the cross border flood EWS. In 2016, they formed Indo Nepal cross border flood early warning network. The network is Co-chaired by Krishna Gautam – President of Nepal Red Cross Society, Bardiya District Chapter and Krishna Kumar Tripathi – Additional Director of PGVS in India as a member secretary to the network. The network aims to demonstrate successful EWS mechanism beyond border to saving lives from floods and influence authorities to collaborate better between two countries. “We are doing this for saving lives, assets and livelihoods from flood disasters”, said Krishna Gautam of Nepal Red Cross Bardiya, “It is based on our humanitarian principles and the collaboration is on humanitarian ground.” According to review in the communities, loss of lives has been brought down to minimum possible in Bahraich, Gonda and Gorakhpur despite unprecedented immense flooding thanks to cross border cooperation. This has demonstrated an example to take up by governments.

    Screen Shot. WhatsApp

    Disasters extend beyond borders warranting cross-border cooperation on prevention, preparedness and response to flooding at all levels to helping each other. There are reasons why governments should invest, collaborate and cooperate with each other in preventing disasters; a shift is required in approaches and practices to address the risks of changing floods. The technology is advancing, access to flood risk information has been possible prompting preventive measures by the communities and authorities beyond the border. Governments should tap the opportunities created by civil societies.

    Find out more…

    Read more about Practical Action’s work in Disaster Risk Reduction and as part of The Zurich Flood Resilience Programme – or about our ongoing programmes in Nepal.

     

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • Prospects and challenges of introducing new sheep variety


    September 12th, 2017

    Whenever, we try to introduce new technology or new approach in our work, we provide special emphasis on our monitoring work. Recently, one of our MEL team members visited Thanahat union in Chilmar Upazila and interacted with 4 beneficiary households who have received improved sheep variety supports from Pumpkin against Poverty (PaP) Project. The visit has come across number of issues such as sheep rearing practices, challenges going through by the beneficiary, profit they are anticipating and obviously future planning to rear this type of improved sheep. This blog post is based on the reflection of the beneficiaries and observation of the MEL members.

    Being a staff of a technology focus organization, our efforts are always being invested around innovating new technologies that work for the poor or identifying appropriate technologies that have been working for poor for years. Under PaP Project, we have been doing the same. The main focus of the project is to support poor landless farmers- mostly women to produce pumpkin in the transitional land to help family move out of poverty. However, alongside with pumpkin production, there are also some technological supports that project is constantly providing and exploring alternative means of poverty alleviation. As a such effort, we have provided improved variety of garol sheep to some selected beneficiaries.

    The variety has been collected from Rajshahi, and has been introduced with aims to improve breed development (Hyderabad variety, India) in the north-west region of Bangladesh, popularize sheep rearing as alternative livelihood means, facilitate quick income earning by female beneficiary. Keeping these in mind, out of the 399 beneficiary households, only 10 households were given 3 sheep per households. The project has supported BDT 19680 (USD 240) per household and contribution from beneficiary themselves was BDT 5000 (USD 61). The expenses were occurred due to purchasing kid garol sheep, input and feed.

    The visit unveiled that there are two important advantages of this sheep variety. These are;
    • Grows so fast in compare with local variety
    • Eat locally available feed and all types of grass
    A short case on one of the beneficiary could better demonstrate the advantages.

    Golenur with her sheep

    Case of Golenur (35)
    One of the 4 beneficiaries is Golenur(35)- a housewife of Thanahat Union. She received 3 sheep in last week of March 2017. After a few days, she observed that in compare with other local variety her garol variety has been growing so fast. She estimated that the present market value of 3 sheep will be BDT 35000(USD 427). The total investment (from the project and own investment) was BDT 21680 (19680+5000). After 3 months, value of the sheep has been increased at 1.4 times. Most importantly, this variety of sheep eats all locally available feed and all types of grass. That’s why, she is now happy that one sheep is pregnant. She is also planning to increase number of sheep. Once she has the anticipated profit from the sheep, she will buy a milking cow to ensure daily income (by selling milk).

    Her son taking care of the sheep

    However, the farmers also pointed out some challenges that they have been going through. These are
    • Feed demand of new variety sheep is higher in compare with other local variety.
    • This type of sheep is very sensitive and becomes ill easily.
    • Close follow up and care are required for the good health and benefits.
    • Lastly but the least, feed crisis is very high during the monsoon. Poor farmers hardly can manage it.

    The growth of the sheep is really fast. Potential return of the investment is also assumed to be high in compare with local variety. However, the problems which have been identified need to be tackled, particularly alternative feed- for monsoon in particular needs to explored, only then this could be a viable livelihood option for the poor farmers in the region.

    Co-author of the post is Abdus Salam, Coordinator- Monitoring & Evaluation.

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • The magic trick and resilience: can it work?


    August 28th, 2017

    If you are a citizen of any country exposed to natural disasters, you may know that flooding, cyclones or hurricanes are some of the words that first come to mind when anyone talks about natural disasters. When we talk about disasters, either natural or man-made we all think of one thing – how we can survive?

    We are putting all our effort into finding that magic trick which we believe that will save us from all disasters. What we need, is to recover quickly from difficulties or be strong in the face of disasters. That magic trick is called Resilience. Global efforts are now focused on building resilience in order to reduce the impact of these disasters which is a continued threat to people’s life and livelihoods around the world. However, when we talk about natural disaster and disaster resilience there are no proper or clear tools which can start to lead us towards that magic trick. In a previous study for the United Nations Development Programme, researchers concluded that “no general measurement framework for disaster resilience has been empirically verified yet.” This finding highlights a key challenge for any resilience building efforts: if resilience cannot be empirically verified, how do you empirically measure whether a community is more resilient as a result of your work?

    It is neither simple nor easy to know whether efforts focusing on what we believe builds resilience are correct. However it is necessary to try to measure that the impact of our work is leading to more resilient communities or at least that they are more stable and adaptable to the disasters than before. In that scenario the flood resilience measurement tool (FRMT) developed by the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance designed to quantify the flood resilience of the community. The tool has been trialled in numerous communities across 10 different countries including Bangladesh, by various implementers. It has already demonstrated that it can be a great complementary tool to flood resilience community programming.

    For Bangladesh, a country at the forefront of the battle for flood resilience, the tool can provided valuable insight. Where the tool has been implemented recently in a running project, it has started to help us identify not only the community trends of floods resilience but also the gaps in resilience by looking into the strength and weakness of the communities from the data analysis. This tool also allows the organisation to understand the community better by analysing interdependencies and by understanding it through different lenses. This process helps us and our partners to work on addressing the gaps. Our hope is to gather this evidence and feed into the national level for better advocacy and lead to more informed policy makers.

    Currently the tool is in development phase; key parties test and feedback on strengths and weaknesses of the tool to make it as robust as possible for measuring the flood resilience.  Through continued use and improvement of this tool we can begin to increases the resilience of the community by considering the all key areas. The use of the FRMT can begin to identify changes in resilience over time and verify through post flood assessments whether our interventions are managing to strengthen communities. So that at a time in the future we can not only say that the magic trick is working through the development work of the organisation but also the people’s ability to resist and recover from the disaster is increased.

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • Nepal Floods 2017 : lessons in preparedness


    August 27th, 2017

    After a disaster, people talk about build back better. The flood disaster in the second week of August in Nepal told us to do better preparedness and ‘bring back better’.

    Disasters test our response capacity. The floods have revealed our strength and weaknesses. It was an exam for decade long interventions by numerous agencies on flood preparedness – District Disaster Preparedness Plans, pre-monsoon workshops and so forth that happened every year in every district for many years. The reduced number deaths and losses despite extent of the disaster is one strong indicator of success. This is significant progress in saving lives. However, not a systematic one.

    The flood early warning system is a last mile solution to saving lives. We should not perceive wrongly that it should do all of preparedness. Introduction of rainfall to run-off models have enhanced risk forecasting and monitoring to let authorities know about the potential risk of floods. Localized mass SMS through NCell and NTC have improved communication of flood risk updates to communities, social media are other means connecting people globally. The Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) confidently issued flood alerts to flood vulnerable communities at least 24 hours before a flood event. It was not imagined few years back. Models have increased lead time of real-time flow (also known as gauge to gauge) based early warning as well by 2-5 hours. These all improved flood risk forecasting. Had authorities taken meaningful response actions in time soon after they got flood risk information; we could have prevented losses significantly. However the recent flood event showed efforts on preparedness are yet to payback and the cost of negligence reduced the gains. The floods in 12-13 August, 2017 are real time test of our long investment on disaster preparedness, not EWS alone.

    15 years on: EWS to saving lives, properties and livelihoods
    Flood EWS is an integrated system of interdependent systems. We have been working with concerned government, non-government agencies and flood prone communities, too many to name, in respective river basins in setting up and advancing the system. Some components of the systems are equipped with modern technologies – risk monitoring and communication. There are institutional set up down to community level built in last 10 year or so. More people are trained and our security personnel are better organized and equipped to respond.

    Since 2002, we in Practical Action have reached flood prone communities in major (9) river basins and have worked in national mechanism of government for EWS with the DHM. We worked together with partners, allies, vulnerable communities and their concerned government agencies. In some river basins the EWS has been extended to further downstream communities in India to saving their lives. It has set successful example in Karnali (Ghagra in India), Babai (Saryu in India) and west Rapti. Saving people should be a mission beyond borders. For us these flood events were.

    Nepal floods 2017, a Real –time test of EWS
    In this year flood, some components demonstrated success but ultimate response actions had limitations. The weather and flood risk forecasting happened in time, communication were improved but could not generate actionable advisories for particular communities in time. The human and governance parts of the systems are yet to graduate. It lacked specific risk knowledge to take proper actions in right time. As the result there were differentiated flood response actions. Flood early warning should mean people at risk zone are evacuated before flood reaches their location. It’s all about taking people to safety before hazards come. But many people waited flood to arrive at them after they got alerts and warnings. Is it adequate? EWS is part of DRR and preparedness, not a stand alone system.

    Intense rainfall on from 11 to 12 August resulted into big (worst in record in many river basins) flooding from 11-13. Immediate effects lasted for about a week. Government’s Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) had issued alerts and warnings of the potential disastrous events in advance from 8th August and they issued alert for rivers in the east.

    Flood alert for the eastern Tarai on 8th August.

    There were normal rainfall on 9th August but the cloud got dense on 10th. The DHM informed the potential intense rainfall and flood. The active monsoon rains since 8th August but much intense from 11th in Tarai, Siwalik and some of the mid-hills generated highest level of flood in second order rivers (Kankai, Bagmati, West Rapti, Riu, Babai) and the third order rivers/rivulets that originate from Siwalik and Tarai. Considering the potential off intense rain and potential cloud burst situation the DHM issued special bulletin in the afternoon of 10th August and informed EOC of the potential risk. By afternoon of the day, they issued special bulletin and sent to authorities through National Emergency Operation Center (NEOC). It was at least 24 hours ahead of flood event on 11 evening.

    More effect was inundation from local rain. In the rivers – Babai, Rapti, Bagmati, Triyuga-Khando, Budhi Ganga, Kankai, Biring (from west to east), it accumulated tributary input and hill catchment rain as well. Flood alerts were issued considering the rainfall in the downstream catchment as well but authorities do not have proper knowledge of rainfall inundation relationship in specific areas. Throughout the event, the DHM sent SMS texts to the communities when flood reached warning in the flood forecasting station of particular river. The SMS were sent in Kankai, Rapti, Riu, East Rapti (Chitwan), Babai.

    However, response actions on the ground were not taken effectively as anticipated. Many people and agencies did not know about the extent of flood in their locality, neither authority were confident of potential consequences. People shifted their goods in the upper stairs, gathered in home but did not leave it. The system was strong in looking at atmosphere but not generating proper actions on the ground. Many deaths could have been prevented if authorities were serious in taking respective decisions and people were forcefully evacuated in time. Following DHM alerts and warnings, DDRCs and security forces informed the flood risk to the communities but they were not actionable instructions. One survivor said, “We got the information in time but where to go?”

    Where there are community based institutions (CDMC, task forces), preparedness on the ground and people had experienced bad flood within last 5 years or so; they were less negligent, moved to safer places nearby. An example is Babai river flood plains in Bardia. They faced flood in 2014 and sustained huge losses. A ware house of Nepal Red Cross in Tikapur municipality in Kailali eased the relief processes’ after the event. However long-distance and timely evacuation did not take place; many response actions were not in time.

    People are moving to shelter, only when they realized it is not safe where they are.

    Government and communities have realized that early warning helped saving lives to a great extent. However, it is also realized that preparedness as a whole was not adequate and people and stakeholders could not take anticipated action after receiving the flood risk information. According to DRR portal of Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) as of 21 August, 157 people died and 29 are missing in these different events from 11 August. About 70 among them are from landslides. Over dozen people died while pulling logs from the flooded river or crossing them without safety measures. As per the records 43433 houses have been reported fully damaged and 100481 people of 20888 families are displaced. Read more on the 2017 Nepal floods.

    What it tells to us.
    The flood events have been real world test of community centered approaches we worked and discussed for last 15 years. It is been success in totality to reduce deaths but there are numerous things to do. There are weaknesses and disconnects in interventions and are issues around sustainability. The government has supported the efforts but is yet to take in their responsibility and accountability. The preparedness was almost limited to stakeholder meetings; not any actions upon. The current deaths are the cost of that negligence. Flood maps need to be updated. Rivers have changed the dimension; we? Current warning and danger levels should be reviewed.

    Nonetheless, appreciating the value of EWS, we need to take opportunity and build disaster preparedness on this success. It shows the private sector should be in the core team for preparedness. The text messages made differences. Once we connect the dots in the system, raising confidence of actors, authorities and communities to become accountable to disaster preventive practices. A long march it is, therefore, to walk together better. The floods will come one day again and they will come worse.

    After a disaster, people talk about build back better. For an integrated approach on disaster prevention and EWS for flood preparedness, it should be also ‘bring back better’.

    Find out more…

    Related information:
    https://twitter.com/DHM_FloodEWS
    Madhukar Upadhyaya http://www.onwardnepal.com/opinion/understanding-nepalfloods2017/
    http://drrportal.gov.np/uploads/document/1071.pdf
    http://news.trust.org/item/20170824050440-npfwh/

    Read the Post-Event Review Capability (PERC) report: Urgent case of recovery: what we can learn from the August 2014 Karnali River floods in Nepal.

    Learn about Practical Action’s work on Early Warning Systems or how we can create resilience in the face of increasing risk. Or more about Practical Action’s work in Disaster Risk Reduction and as part of The Zurich Flood Resilience Programme – or about our ongoing programmes in Nepal

    1 Comment » | Add your comment
  • Tikapur warehouse eases relief distribution


    August 25th, 2017

    A warehouse in Tikapur, constructed with the support from Nepal Flood Resilience Project in coordination with government and non-government stakeholders, worked well in the flood of 2017. The warehouse eased the relief collection, storage and distribution and made the process smooth, transparent, equitable and timely.

    Stockpiled relief materials at the Tikapur warehouse.

    All agencies and individuals handed over relief items to the Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) which was gathered in the warehouse. The NRCS then distributed the items to the needy people in coordination with local government, civil society organisations and other humanitarian organisations including Good Neighbor, Care Nepal and CEWIN Nepal. As of 21 August, 233 families have got relief supports such as tarpaulin, blankets, food materials, mosquito nets, school dress, stationery and hygiene kits.

    In the similar events in the past, the humanitarian agencies used to move directly to flood affected areas and distribute relief materials which used to be very chaotic,” said Jagdishwor Pandit, President of NRCS Tikapur Sub-Chapter. “But this year, the warehouse eased the relief distribution process. We coordinated with local leaders of affected communities and government representatives about the need and then the stockpiled relief materials were transported from the warehouse for distribution.

    An inundated house in Kailali.

    On 12 and 13 August 2017, there were torrential rains which filled in all rivulets and drains within hours and caused unanticipated inundation across the villages and towns at Tikapur, Kailali. The initial assessment showed that 1,844 households have affected at different places by this flood.

    Tikapur Area Police Office inundated by floodwaters.

    Furthermore, the local government offices such as Tikapur Municipality and Area Police Office were inundated for two days. The flood level in the inundation areas varied from 1 to 4 feet deep. This flood also destructed public services such as transportation services which was obstructed for four days, power cut for a day, market closed for two days, telephone network disturbed for a day and it also affected drinking water supply system.

    Tikapur warehouse.

    The warehouse was constructed at Tikapur-9, Kailali with multi-stakeholders’ collaboration. Mainly, it involved Area Administration Office-Tikapur, Area Police Office-Tikapur, Federation of Nepal Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) Tikapur Sub-Chapter, Tikapur Municipality and Nepal Flood Resilience Project. This is the only warehouse in Tikapur which has capacity to accommodate non-food relief item (NFRI) sets for 290 households.

    The warehouse is situated at a strategic location from where NRCS can distribute the NFRI for all wards of Tikapur Municipality in case of any disasters happening there. The warehouse was constructed to enhance the capacity of local stakeholders to respond timely and efficiently to disaster affected families. It also has certain number of rescue equipment such as mattocks, shovels, safety helmets, buckets, life jackets, and crowbars to support rapid rescue. The NRCS has been leading its operational and management committee which comprise key contributors and local stakeholders as its committee members. The committee is governed by the guideline formulated for its operation and management.

    Find out more…

    Discover how effective Practical Action’s other interventions were during the 2017 floods and landslides in Nepal.

    Read more about Practical Action’s work in Disaster Risk Reduction and as part of The Zurich Flood Resilience Programme – or about our ongoing programmes in Nepal.

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • Championing sanitation in Kisumu

    On the outskirts of Kenya’s third largest city, Kisumu are rusty shacks that dot the landscape. This is Nyalenda settlement, an informal dwelling of at least 60,000 residents (as per the 2009 national population census). Nyalenda is the second largest informal settlement in Kisumu, after Manyatta, and is situated to the south of the Central Business District (CBD). Nyalenda consists of two separate settlements, Nyalenda A and B. Nyalenda A is subdivided into four units (Dago, Kanyakwar, Central and Western A), while Nyalenda B features five smaller units (Got Owak, Kilo, Nanga, Dunga and Western).

    An estimated 60 percent of Kisumu’s population lives in informal settlements and this population is rapidly expanding with the ever increasing rural urban migration, where rural communities move to the towns and cities in search of jobs and better livelihoods. Many households in the city’s informal settlements do not have adequate access to such basic services as water and sanitation, with as many as 100 people sharing a single toilet.

    It is this great need of Kisumu’s over 200,000 residents that prompted Practical Action to embark on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) initiatives within the city’s informal settlements. For over a decade, Practical Action has been working to improve the living conditions of urban poor residents through increased access to basic services such as adequate water and sanitation facilities, functional storm water, effluent drainage and solid waste management.

    A walk through Nyalenda provides a snapshot of what the residents here have to contend with. The congested tin roofed houses, large garbage heaps, and streams of sewage, are commonplace. One has to watch where they step as they walk through the villages as open defecation and ‘flying toilets’—the phenomena whereby residents relieve themselves in polythene bags, and then throw the bags outside on to streets, roofs and alleyways, is prevalent.

    Practical Action has been assisting the residents of Nyalenda by providing piped water with the support of Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company (KIWASCO) as well as improving the level of sanitation through construction of toilets and pit latrines.

    As a way of ensuring the residents fully participate in the overall improvement of the informal settlement they live in, Practical Action and its partner Kisumu Urban Apostolate Programmes (KUAP) in 2008 formed the Nyalenda A Neighbourhood Association that covers the villages of Dago, Kanyakwar, Central and Western A.

    Christopher Ogla at the door of an improved latrine in Nyalenda, Kisumu

    More significantly, Practical Action piloted Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in this settlement. CLTS is an innovative and widely utilized methodology for mobilizing communities to completely eliminate open defecation (OD). Communities are facilitated to conduct their own appraisal and analysis of open defecation (OD) and take their own action to become ODF (open defecation free). One of the CLTS successes has been Dago village within Nyalenda A. This village’s latrine coverage stood at 54% nine months ago, but once Practical Action and KUAP with the help of the neighbourhood association as well as the community health volunteers (CHVs) and public health officers (PHOs) stepped in and introduced the CLTS concept, Dago is now well on its way to becoming ODF as latrine coverage currently stands at 99%.

    This modest success of achieving ODF status for one of the villages in Kisumu’s informal settlements demonstrates that if concerted efforts are put in place to improve sanitation through proper fecal disposal and proper hygiene, the spread of such waterborne diseases as diarrhea and cholera, particularly among children will be a thing of the past, and Kisumu can embark on a journey to see it free from open defecation which would herald a massive improvement of the health of its residents.

    No Comments » | Add your comment