Mock flood exercises in Nepal prepare communities for monsoon

June 19th, 2016

On 5 June in the early morning, the community in Jhapa district of Eastern Nepal received phone calls around 9:00 am from the gauge reader at Mainachuli Hydrology Station located at upper stream of the Kankai River where flood information is monitored. The information is also monitored at the District Emergency Operation Centre (DEOC).

flood early warning JhapaThe information conveyed was on rainfall in the upstream catchment and water level of river at Mainachuli. Building on the early information (alert, warning and danger levels) to follow the potential flood situation in particularly, search and rescue, first aid, relief and rehabilitation task forces and Community Disaster Management Committee (CDMC) each exercised the roles and responsibilities that are essential for efficiency during a real flood. The monsoon is approaching shortly and it is the need of the moment to generate that potential.

The gauge reader said in the first message that there were three metres of flood. Immediately, the early warning system (EWS) task force alerted the CDMC and started informing every community member.  For mass communication, EWS task force uses hand operated sirens, flags and megaphones.  Ten minutes after the first call, the communities received a second phone call from the gauge station and DEOC informing them that the flood level had reached 3.7 metres and rainfall continued at the upstream catchment area. Hearing this, community members started the evacuation process. They were ready to evacuate to safer places and at the same time the task force started to evacuate highly vulnerable people such as people with disabilities, elderly women, pregnant women and children to pre-defined safe places.  The rest of the people were evacuated after they received the information that the flood level had crossed 4.2 metres. Four different task forces were activated with equipment and materials. The search and rescue (SAR) team rescued the injured people, the first aid team did the first aid treatment and transported the injured to hospital whereas the EWS team did internal and external coordination. The relief and rehabilitation task force did the overall management including shelter management, relief, etc. The CDMC supervised the whole process.

Flood early warning Jhapa

This is how a mock flood exercise is done every year ahead of the monsoons to ensure the communities are prepared for the worst-case scenario during the floods.

Practical Action and Nepal Red Cross, Jhapa Chapter in coordination with the government’s Department of Hydrology and Meteorology and local authorities organised the mock flood exercise for 15 communities from 6 village development committees (VDCs) and 2 municipalities in Jhapa District of Eastern Nepal on the occasion of World Environment Day on 5 June 2016.

The massive exercises, with the involvement of more than 885 women and 615 men volunteers, 297 task forces, 75 disaster management committee  members and 10 project staff, was organised with the intention that the communities will be able to conduct such events in the future by themselves.

In the review meeting the CDMC members said that the exercises have developed their confidence. The exercises were carried out for minimum of 30 minutes lag time although it ranges up to 2 hours for the farthest community from Mainachuli. Officials from the district level agencies, security forces, representatives of different political parties and Nepal Red Cross representing the District Disaster Response Committee (DDRC) observed the community response. The DDRC members appreciated the event and preparedness to saving lives from flood and expressed their commitment to institutionalise the practice.

Local security offices (Nepal Police and Armed Police Force) joined the mock flood exercise and were pleased to join the community in countering a possible flood with safety precautions.

“Such exercise can help improve the capacity of community who have to deal with emergency situations,” said an official from the district Police Office.

The mock exercise was conducted just before monsoon. It was helpful in terms of updating emergency equipment, communication phone directory, communication channels and making the communities ready to cope with the upcoming flood this year.

Similar mock flood exercises were conducted for 74 communities of Bardiya and Kailali Districts from Karnali River Basin in Western Nepal.

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