Flood warning system in Nepal that India can replicate

Flood warning system in Nepal that India can replicate

"We would be happy to install the Community Based Flood Early Warning System (CB-FEWS) on a trial basis in the Kosi basin in Bihar. We will do it free of cost and sponsor all the necessary tools and instruments," said Shahriar Wahid of the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) that has evolved the system.

Mahender Bahadur Karki and Raj Kumar Mahto enjoy immense respect among the villagers here for being the caretakers of a community-based flood warning system that can be successfully replicated along the banks of Bihar’s ‘river of sorrow’, the Kosi.

"We would be happy to install the Community Based Flood Early Warning System (CB-FEWS) on a trial basis in the Kosi basin in Bihar. We will do it free of cost and sponsor all the necessary tools and instruments," said Shahriar Wahid of the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) that has evolved the system.

Neera Shreshtha Pradhan, a water and adaptation specialist at ICIMOD explained how the system works. Its mechanics begin with a sensor rod that is calibrated in consultation with the local communities to the specific conditions of the landscape and river and installed in an upstream section of a flood-prone river. 

When water levels begin to rise during the monsoon, the sensor sends a message in the form of a light and a loud buzzing noise to a receiver located at the nearby house of a resident who has volunteered to be the system’s local caretaker.

"When the water is rising to dangerous levels, the caretaker calls or sends a text message to the numbers on a contact list of individuals downstream as well as the adjacent community and government institutions to inform them of the potential flood," said Pradhan.

The system is easy to understand and use, said Raj Kumar, who attended a training session in Kathmandu last year along with participants from Afghanistan, India and Nepal.

"Earlier, we never used to know for sure how high the water was, but now there hopefully won’t be problems. This will be good for our villages," he said.

Sagar Bajracharya, a hydrological analyst at ICIMOD, said the instruments required for the system cost only $1,200 (Nepali Rs.128,000/Indian Rs.80,000), including the receiver station and transmitter.