Bikram Rana

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Project Manager, Flood resilience Program, Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance.

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Posts by Bikram

  • Mock flood drill at the advent of monsoon

    July 11th, 2019

    Monsoon has approached and flood can occur anytime, which requires actions based on different community contexts, with available flood early warning systems entailing interrelated components of Flood risk knowledge, Risk monitoring, Communication and dissemination of risk information, and Response.

    As an institutionalization process 5th June (world environment day) is marked as the advent of monsoon and mock flood exercise day. This year in the lower Karnali basin (Nepal part) where we work; 53 community disaster management committees (CDMC) and associated community people participated in the mock flood drill. The mock flood exercise tests the effectiveness of interrelated flood warning system components, particularly monitoring, communication and response, and the capacity of different actors and community members to take coordinated action to avoid losses by using early warning information during real flood events.

    The mock flood scenarios were created by department of hydrology and meteorology (DHM) – DHM displayed mock flood information in its web page, coordinated and communicated to national emergency operation centre, district emergency operation center, chief district officer, and security forces. “Ncell” the private company providing mobile network service disseminated the mock flood information via SMS to communities and local government representatives.

    Mock flood message from Department of Hydrology and Meteorology

    I was observant at a community of which the CDMC is the steering body for a mock exercise. The Nangapur community has a CDMC comprising 34 members, having different roles within the CDMC outlined as search and rescue task force (5 members), First Aid support task force (5 members), Flood early warning communication task force (5 members), women volunteers (10 members). It was impressive to observe the actions of CDMC and community people. Nangapur CDMC shared the exercise plan with the relevant authorities and organisations accordingly Mayor of Rajapur municipality was one of the esteemed invitees.

    As a part of mock flood exercise the CDMC had its meeting and reinforce the roles assigned to different task forces. At 8:00 in the morning a mock message from the gauge station ( Chisapani) and District Emergency operation Center (DEOC) was received by the CDMC. The message indicated that the flood level in the monitoring gauge station is increasing towards warning level. This information interpretation is that a damaging flood is likely to occur. CDMC early warning team focal person made a call to Chisapani station on the information they received and confirmed it was from the upstream gauge station. Immediately after confirming the message from gauge station, CDMC organised an emergency meeting of CDMC and task forces to check on their preparation.

    Early warning task force members were active an started informing the community by blowing (sirens) and using speakers to be alert about the coming flood and commanded to start storing belongings, which have to be left at home in a safe place, requested to select things to be moved to a safe location – the emergency safe shelter. Inform family members and prepare livestock for transfer to a safe place. Wait for further updates of the flood situation that will be provided by the relevant task force members. The same message was disseminated by the volunteers of the task force by displaying blue flag and making door to door visits.

    After receiving the second message from the Chisapani  station and upon its confirmation, task forces search and rescue, emergency shelter management and first aid took their position to fulfill their responsibilities. Volunteers were prepared with required equipment to support/rescue the most vulnerable, (e.g. the elderly,  children, etc.)

    Another task force started blowing warning siren for one minute the first time, and then stopped for one minute followed by another one minute of blowing the siren. This alerts the volunteers that the flood has reached warning level so they can rush to inform the relevant communities accordingly. In this community more than one siren was blown at different places, with messages that people should be ready to move and prepared to be evacuated to the safe shelter. Requesting people to check whether the movable items and belongings are ready and things to be left behind have been placed safely.

    After receiving the third message and its confirmation, siren was blown continuously for two minutes and stopped for half a minute. Then again it was blown for another two minutes and stopped for half a minute. This was repeated four times. The task forces search and rescue, first aid task force and volunteers were in actions as assigned.

    The EWS task force volunteers were commanding the order to evacuate to a safe place through the designated safe route. Volunteers were visiting door-to-door and using speakers reminding people what to do and how to do it. Search and rescue task force volunteers were assisting the most vulnerable people (who were identified and located in advance). Volunteers were consoling community to be patient and requesting them to follow their guidance to move calmly to safe place and support others in the evacuation. The volunteers were cautious to ensure the communication has reached to the most vulnerable houses, individuals and community and were ensuring people in need of rescue are rescued in time. At the same time other members of the CDMC were communicating flood updates disseminate updates to other communities (particularly downstream) through phone calls and SMS.

    Accompanied by volunteers people arrived at the safe shelter with their belongings (boxes, sitting materials on heads), sheep, goats, ox were brought and tied to raise areas. People were getting into the safe shelter following instructions of the CDMC members. People were brought in stretchers, some were being first aided, and elderly people, lactating women and children were brought in with care by the task force members.

    Elderly woman assisted

    Shelter task forces in coordination with the CDMC counted the head to ensure everyone has arrived and no one is left behind. The CDMC task force members were asking if anything is to be placed safely back home, and assuring that the task force will do for them.

    Staging of successful mock flood drill does indicate the pre-requisites of FEWS are in place in the communities we work with.

     

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  • FRMC flipping Ex-ante actions and Post ante-actions

    April 23rd, 2019

    Not only in Nepali context , around the globe in taking actions to disaster, among Ex-ante action and Post ante-actions, post disaster interventions are more observed than ex-ante actions. The updates of “core humanitarian standards” (CHS) and lack of empirical resilience measurement tools methods indicate the focus is still in post disaster interventions of relief, rescue, recovery and reconstruction, guided by CHS. Four humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence are at the core of all humanitarian work. These principles provide the foundations for humanitarian action and are central in establishing and maintaining access to affected people. The gap between humanitarian aid and development is heralded and endeavor to find possible solution to narrow the gap has given rise to Linking Relief, Rehabilitation and development (LRRD) concept. (VENRO, 2006) elucidates sustainable development co-operation and relief need not be at odds with one another.

    Resilience is a central term in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). Recovery from the DRR perspective is a process that results in people’s lives returning to normal; but in such a way that they will be more resilient to future disasters and impact of climate change (“bounce back better”). It is becoming a standard among UN, governmental and non-governmental organizations in recognizing DRR as an important precondition for sustainable development. It is becoming evident that the impact of hazards on lives and assets and the associated need for humanitarian response can be greatly reduced by investments in prevention, mitigation and prepared¬ness measures. Global flood resilience Programme of Zurich flood resilience alliance elucidates investment of US 1 dollar in ex-ante actions saves dollar 5 in post ante actions.

    Nepal struggles in dealing with ex-ante and post ante actions and is adjusting itself upon transformed to its federal structure with 753 local governments, 7 state governments and a federal government. It is crawling in updating its policies, strategies, plans, and acts regulations to suit the new structure it has arrived. Disaster, risk and management act ( 2017), local government planning and budgeting guideline ( 2074 BS), local government operation act ( 2074 BS), are few examples that are newly formulated and are relevant to be considered by Flood Resilience Programme in Nepal in achieving its objectives of increased in flood resilience knowledge and actions of communities, increased in flood resilience funding in local government budgeting and planning cycles and improved plans and policies at national, sub national level of governments for flood resilience.

    Usually, Nepali context entails absence of information on service levels of different facilities and ground needs on resilience prioritization in the planning process, further prioritization is influenced by direct benefit projects, resilience adaptation are least priorities in the planning and budgeting planning process. Absence of sufficient information and knowledge on flood resilience are pushed to corners in planning and budgeting by socio-political and muscle power influences in the decision makings, the power relations normally undermine the resilience needs and other needs and priorities of poor and vulnerable. To negate power relations information on the context and reality on resilience needs and measures is crucial for integrative negotiation in the dialogue process in planning and budgeting of local government. It is well accepted that development slags upon hit by disasters upon development interventions are not resilient to disasters. This further elucidates the need of climate, environment and disaster risk integration in development interventions. Yet, government planning and budgeting process lack integration of ex-ante actions in the light of insufficient information they use.
    Addressing the problems of integration flood resilience program is strategically set up to demonstrate, learn and inspire by using flood resilience measurement of communities (FRMC) tool in its approach to build flood resilience in its target communities and local government.

    Information on 44 sources of resilience, elucidated to the target communities, local governments on flood resilience and inputs in livelihood capitals as ex-ante and post-ante actions per se safe shelter houses built for flood events, dykes at possible flood entry points, culverts for flood water drainage, river training works in Karnali river from government, safe water supply for flood events, flood early warning communication from upstream to downstream, etc. have reduced the loss and damage of flood prone communities are ground demonstration and learning to be resilient from flood. These demonstration and learning evidence are being shared in FRMC result sharing events in the communities.

    The FRMC information are reviewed and graded on properties of resilience, the processed information is shared back with concerned communities where information on FRMC results are discussed in identifying the community needs to improve their source of resilience to contribute the properties of resilience (robustness, redundancy, resourcefulness and rapidity). The need identified are planned to be aligned with the upcoming local government planning and budgeting process through discussions at ward level planning process and further to be taken up at local government prioritization to be in the periodic plan of the government. Upon priorities of communities falling the periodic plan of local government and regular follow up of the implementation of priorities will contribute to the objective of increased in flood resilience knowledge and actions of communities, increased in flood resilience funding in local government budgeting and planning cycles. The implementation evidence will be further taken to contribute improved plans and policies at national, sub national level of governments for flood resilience.

     

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