Amrit Bhandari

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I work at Practical Action Nepal Office.

Recommended reading: http://amritbabu.blogspot.com

Posts by Amrit

  • Early warning system saves lives in monsoon-hit Nepal

    Bardiya, Nepal,
    July 3rd, 2013

    The monsoon in Nepal earlier this year was horrific and left thousands of people homeless in Darchula district. But when unusually severe monsoon rain caused flooding last month, everyone was prepared for flooding due to a new early warning system.

    Intense rainfall

    Incessant rain begun unexpectedly on 15 June in the Bardiya district, causing the water level of Karniali River to rise at Chisapani. While the Karnali River relentlessly continued to swell with the possibility of invading a number of villages in Bardiya, an electronic display board at District Police Office in Bardiya was updating information on the overflowing water level through a telemetric system established by Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM). Parbati Gurung from DHM was at Chisapani station, observing the gushing Karnali River and updating information to the District Police, Administration and branch office of Red Cross every 15 minutes.

    Preparing for a rescue

    On 17 June, the river crossed the danger line of gauge reader at Chisapani. The Chief District Officer at Bardiya called an emergency meeting with the Nepal Army, the Armed Police Force and the Red Cross to keep them alert and prepare for the rescue and support.

    The District Administration, Police and Red Cross staff analysed the information provided by the telemetric system and Parbati Gurung. The digital board placed by Practical Action was giving the information based on the water level at Chisapani.

    Evacuating residents to safe areas

    As soon as the digital board showed that the water level at Chisapani was nearly crossing the danger line, the community radio in Bardiya alerted communities living near the river. The Nepal Army and Armed Police Force marched toward the flood prone settlements to help evacuate people to safe areas. An alerting siren started ringing in Rajapur, Bhimmapur, Daulatpur, Patabhar, Manau, Khairichandapur, Gola and Pashupati Nagar of Bardiya Districts. People in the areas begun to collect their important belongings, documents, foods, and clothes and left home for higher ground. About 2,620 people were taken to safe areas.

    Purna Ram Tharu, a resident from Patabhar, said: “We were terribly frightened while we knew that the river was crossing the danger line and entering our settlement. But thank god, we could successfully leave our place before the flood intruded into our settlement. We didn’t have to bear any human losses this time.”

    Khusi Ram Tharu, President of Patabhar Disaster Risk Management Committee, added: “No one was injured in what was such a big flood. We had time to march on towards the safe places with our belongings. We now realise that early warning systems will help us avoid the precarious impact of flood.”

    Impact of the early warning system

    Thakur Tharu, President of Disaster Management Committee, Rajapur said: “The Early Warning System established in various places of Bardiya helped wonderfully this time as they were informed about a flood before it entered the village. The system also allowed us to assemble our important documents and other properties and move swiftly to a safe place. No sooner had the flood got into the village, residents were informed by ringing sirens and had already moved to the safe places.”

    The Disaster Management Committee warned villagers, disseminating information about the flow of the flood, using microphones. The committee also prioritised the safety of pregnant women, disabled people, and children – preparing them to leave for safe areas such as local schools. When the water level went down all, the families were able to return to their homes again.

    The early warning system established by Practical Action, supported by ECHO’s disaster preparedness programme (DIPECHO), has proved to be an incredibly important system to avoid human and material loss due to flooding. The project has also provided equipment and accessories such as sirens, microphones, jackets, boats and rope for handling emergency in case of flooding.

    It is now well-known and proved that The early warning system installed in the Bardiya area is highly effective and guards against floods and flood-led natural disasters. If the system is promoted by the state in flood prone areas across the country, settlements close to riverfront areas will not face untimely deaths and loss of property.

    Find out more about Practical Action Nepal’s disaster risk reduction and climate change programme, which aims to reduce the loss of lives and property of vulnerable communities due to water induced disasters such as these.

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  • Warning signs in Nepal

    Balapur, Tari Gaun 22412, Nepal, Tari Gaun
    September 12th, 2012

    With the start of monsoon, fears of the people residing in waterfront areas begin to increase.

    Every year the settlements nearby the rivers suffer from significant loss of property and physical displacement, caused by unprecedented flooding.

    While settlements in a majority of riverfront areas across the country continue to suffer from monsoon-led natural disasters, a community residing near the Babai River in Balapur is beginning to breathe with a sigh of relief after the installation of an Early Warning System in their village.

    Balapur village touches the Babai River in three directions and the river flows approximately 1.5 kilometres away from the village. During the rainy season, the swollen river would enter Balapur from Shanti and Babai settlements.

    “It was very difficult to live in this village. The flood drowned my three goats, cows and all the food stored in my home. The flood also washed away my paddy plantation. I could not even protect documents important to me and the materials in my house. The whole village was waterlogged,” says Tihar Bahadur Chaudhary, a local of the village.

    The river swept away Sabit Kumar Chaudhary’s home. His four goats, food grains and other physical properties were lost in the flooding. “I could save nothing,” he says.

    People in Balapur were compelled to live in uncertainty until Practical Action worked with them to install an Early Warning System in the village. The project has also provided equipment and accessories such as sirens, microphones, lifejackets and boats to help them react to any flooding emergency.

    A water gauge reader has been installed in the upper station of Babai at Chepang to help the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology to observe the water level. If they find the water level rising dangerously, they quickly inform the police, media, and rescue officials and the communities via sirens.

    As a result, Balapur residents are warned about a flood before it enters the village. The System also allows them to assemble their important documents and other properties and move swiftly to a safe place.

    Surrounding communities have also formed disaster management committees at the local level. The committee warns villagers, disseminating information about the flow of a flood, using microphones. The committee also prioritises the safety of pregnant women, disabled people, and children. The committee members are trained in flood awareness and preparedness procedures.

    Moreover, there is a separate rescue unit under the disaster management committee, responsible for immediate rescue operations. The system is solely installed with full participation of communities and therefore the community owns the system and maintains it.

    Sitapati Tharu says: “If the observer in the upper station finds the water level rising to a crucial level, we can hear the loud sirens in the village. If the siren rings for the first time, we become alert and start packing important documents, property and food and prepare to leave for a safe location. If we again hear the sound of the siren we then immediately move to a safe place.”

    The disaster management committee, upon notice of the second siren sound, prepares to shift the pregnant women, disabled and children to the safe areas. As soon as villagers hear the third round of siren sounds, all of them run away, urging their livestock on and carrying other materials to safe places.

    Thanks to the project, mitigation infrastructure such as culverts and roads are in place to allow people to move quickly during floods. The project also organises mock drill practices to build capacity of communities. These are rehearsals to make communities aware of how they should be prepared at the time of flooding.

    The Early Warning System installed in Balapur has been a proven and highly effective guards against floods and flood-led natural disasters. If the system is promoted by the state in flood prone areas across the country, settlements close to riverfront areas will not face untimely deaths and loss of property.

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  • Farmer to farmer knowledge sharing

    Kathmandu 44600, Nepal, Kathmandu
    January 17th, 2012

    The mission of Practical Answers is to contribute to the improvement of livelihoods, by providing knowledge services and facilitating sharing of technical knowledge relevant to development processes and poverty eradication.

    Based on this mission, Practical Answers in Nepal, in partnership with READ Nepal, has been working with communities to establish knowledge nodes – places where people can get information, such as a room in a village that has an internet connection.

    There are more than half a dozen ways of providing technical information people, particularly to the poor communities who can use such information and knowledge to improve their livelihoods.

    Farmer to farmer knowledge sharing is one such model. People who are skilled and trained through Practical Action’s projects respond people who contact Practical Answers with an enquiry. The limitation is that only enquiries related to the training will be responded through the farmers to farmers model. However, there are other responding models such as interactions between community and experts, animal health camp, radio programme, linking the enquiries with related government agencies in district and local level to respond the broader enquiries.

    Market Access for Smallholder Farmers (MASF) is a project Practical Action has been implementing in four districts of Nepal.

    Nirmala Bogiti and Shanti Parajuli have been trained through the MASF project in basic animal management, fodder/forage management and they have participated in workshops on livestock health.

    In the process of collecting enquiries through Practical Answers in Chitwan and Nawalparasi we found some of the communities wanted to know how they can keep their livestock healthy, for example, how they can prepare balanced diet.

    Based on the enquiries, knowledge nodes organised a- farmer to farmer knowledge sharing practical interaction in a few communities to test how effective this model would be to implement in other communities.

    Nirmala and Shanti shared their knowledge and taught Practical Answers enquirers how they can prepare mineral blocks using local resources, what the ingredients are and what the benefits are for the livestock to keep them healthy.

     

    The model was very effective as enquirers directly ask many more questions related with dairy farming with the trained and skilled farmers like Nirmala and Shanti. Nirmala and Shanti are among the successful farmers of the MASF project who have significantly increased their income through dairy farming. While they shared their experience and stories on how they became successful farmers, they inspired the enquirers who asked for information on dairy farming and also received practical information from them.

    The knowledge sharing process doesn’t end here. While farmers received knowledge from leader farmers, they apply it for themselves and pass on to other farmers  who are in need for such knowledge. While Karnakhar Acharya from Nawalparasi received practical knowledge to prepare mineral block from Nirmala then he has been supporting other farmers in his communities who ask him about the mineral block.

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  • Technology challenging poverty

    Kailali, Nepal,
    December 2nd, 2011

    Layak Ram Chaudhary is one of the most enthusiastic farmers I have ever come across, with a knack for technology and innovation. Just with a small patch of land, I am overwhelmed to see him making fortunes, winning public laurels and becoming an inspiration. He is one of many farmers in Joshipur, a village in the Kailali district of Nepal who have made a sound return on investment in vegetable farming.

    The secret? Layak Ram showed me his polyhouse and off-farm cultivation and proudly explained how it has helped him become successful in vegetable farming. “The paddy we cultivated here for a long time would hardly feed 11 members of my family for three to four months,” he said. “I was compelled to work as a wage labourer for many years just to meet the ends. When I got an opportunity to participate in the vegetable cultivation training, I learned about the polyhouse cultivation.”

    He learned various technologies during the 10-day training on vegetable farming provided by Practical Action.

    “They have helped me do things right,” he said. “During the first year, I planted cauliflowers and tomatoes in my land and earned NRS (Nepalese Rupees) 10,000.00 (£77). My family’s happiness knew no bound. The earnings gave a new sight to my father and he also encouraged me to pursue it further. The next year observed sharp increase in my income to Nrs 70,000.00 (£541). It offered me more motivation to buy a tractor which I paid for in instalments. Since then, I have never looked back in life. I continue to raise my production levels and generate more earnings, helping me to educate my children and sisters with pride. The polyhouse has now become a main source of income and it is the appropriate technology to farmers especially those who possess only a small patch of land.”

    Ashik Mandal, technical assistant, District Development Office, Kailali, said polyhouses can be made with locally available materials that can significantly reduce the construction cost, as affordability is a major concern for many farmers.

    “The most discerning benefit of the polyhouse is that the farmers can grow both seasonal and off-season vegetables at the same time – off season vegetables fetch an attractive price,” he said. “Though a small investment and labour is required to erect it first time, excellent earnings from off-season produces can well offset such investment. The construction site must be a firm land and free from potholes as the bamboo’s sticks may decay in the loose and moist land and house may fall apart. These houses generally last for three years.”

    E F Schumacher’s vision and ideas continue to generate increasing momentum in how appropriate technology can challenge the poverty by pulling poor farmers out of grave poverty and famine. On the occasion of his 100th birthday, my wishes are due to him while I also offer congratulatory mention to our local hero, Layak Ram for his extraordinary and exemplary work.

     

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