Learning to Lead:an experience of “BuiLding resiLience to disaster andcLimate change impact on Women and chiLdren project,”Banganga river Basin in KapiLvastu district, nepaL1. The context of such floods have grown in severity and regularity in recent years. Climate change, however, is the most oft-citedRight across the world, natural disasters and climate change reason for the growing vulnerability of the plains. Althoughare concerns which alarm governments and threaten disaster and climate change are bound to affect all Nepalispopulations. These phenomena pose a dire threat to the in one way or another, not everyone is equally vulnerablesustainability of local and regional ecologies and have a to its consequences. Poverty, caste, origin, education,devastating impact on the existing socio-economic patterns age, and gender are among the factors that may decreaseof human existence. Recurrent natural disasters already have people’s resilience to disaster and climate change. To builda large hand in undermining the ability of communities, the resilience of the most vulnerable, who include women,regions, nations, and the global community itself to meet children, the disabled, Dalits, indigenous ethnics groups,basic development goals and their intensity, and possibly and migrants, DRR and climate change adaptation (CCA)frequency, are likely to be exacerbated by climate change. In initiatives must be included in development plans andlight of these threats, disaster risk reduction (DRR) efforts are programmes.central to meeting local and global development objectivesand to promoting adaptation to climate change. A study carried out in Banganga River Basin by National Disaster Risk Reduction Centre (NDRC Nepal) in 2007-8Areas within the Banganga River Basin experience floods with grant support from ActionAid Nepal) demonstratedon an annual basis; in fact, for many reasons, the impacts that this basin is highly impacted by climatic variability
and frequent disasters and that the impacts of these two communities. The school-level awareness campaigns andphenomena on people’s livelihoods and the environment safety drills and the integration of DRR into life skills educationhave grown increasingly substantial. To address the DRR programmes have, without question, taught students, schooland CCA issues the basin faces, a six-month project called officials and communities how to reduce risks. As a result,Building Resilience to Disaster and Climate Change Impact students and parents reacted to the earthquake of Septemberon Women and Children [38/10/N/419 (2011-12)] was 2011 calmly, without panicking, in marked contrast to theirlaunched in July 2011 with grant support from Canadian reaction to the August 1988 earthquake, which had resulted inCooperation Office Nepal. Its objective was to build the chaos and terror. They ascribed their composure to the ‘duck,resilience of women and children, helping them to understand cover and hold’ drill 3200 students had practiced just a monththe adverse impact of climate change and protecting them before the quake struck.from future disasters. The project’s key interventions werebased on the research findings of the 2007-08 NDRC study Various capacity-building initiatives enabled children toand the major learning of the river basin and DIPECHO speak up about issues that affect their wellbeing and adultsprojects which Oxfam Nepal had conducted during the fiscal started to see children as active players in DRR. Informantsyear 2005-07 in neighbouring communities adjacent. The claimed and observation confirmed that children who areBuilding Resilience Project contributed toward achieving aware, involved, and empowered are effective agents ofthe five key priorities of the Hyogo Framework of Action1 change and excellent communicators within communities.(HFA) and the five flagship areas of the National Strategy A survey administered to 240 respondents towards the endfor Disaster Risk Management (NSDRM)2. This report of the project revealed that knowledge about and the practicesummarises the key results of and learning from this project of community risk assessment has increased significantlyand suggests the path ahead. compared to the baseline situation and that attitudes toward the endeavour are more positive. After communities hadBox 1: Socio-economic profile of the project area carried out participatory vulnerability analyses (PVAs), theyBanganga River 28 VDCs of Arghakhanchi, Kapilvastu and drafted DRR Contingency Plans, which they shared with localBasin Palpa districts government bodies and VDC-level stakeholders in order toProject VDCs Motipur, Banganga, Kopuwa and Niglihawa leverage internal resources. VDCs and political parties areTotal population 67,927 people in10,956 households now familiar with DRR and climate change and have startedMajor target 4500 people in 800 households in the Tharu, to address these issues in their local plans.groups Madhesi and hill migrant communitiesMajor livelihood Agriculture (70.6%), seasonal labour (15.3%), Following a school-based PVA exercise, the students of Shree services (7.3%), business (6.6%) Secondary School in Niglihawa-2, Kushma VDC, pressuredLand tenure 73% cultivate their own land, 18% families the school management committees to trim the tall (and cultivate their own land and sharecrop, and therefore unsafe) trees in the school compound 8% rent land and have requested that a fence be built Months of food 23% year-round, 52% 6-9 months, 25% in order to prevent cattle from sufficiency families 2-4 months wandering in. Students alsoSource: CBS (2001) and NDRC (2009) initiated sanitation campaigns at the school. The most apparent change, however,2. Key results is that students’ ideas are starting to be heard.2.1 Increased the capacity of localcommunities, including children and School-based Contingencywomen, to develop DRR plans Plans (which are closelyTraining, DRR-based extracurricular activities, drills and aligned with schoolsimulations filled the gaps in people’s knowledge about DRR improvement plans) have beenand translated skills and knowledge into practice, thereby drafted to designate areas as high-enhancing the self-confidence and resilience of the participating1 The five priority actions of the HFA are to (i) ensure that DRR is a national and local priority with a strong institutional basis for implementation, (ii) identify, assess and monitor disaster risks and enhance early warning, (iii) use knowledge, innovation, and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels, (iv) reduce underlying risk factors, and (v) strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response.2 The five flagships area are (i) school and hospital safety, (ii) emergency preparedness and response capacity; (iii) flood management in the Koshi River Basin; (iv) integrated community-based disaster risk reduction and management; (v) policy and institutional support for disaster risk management.
, medium- or low-risk and to lay out evacuation routes to VDC by Indreni, in Tilaurkotsafe shelters. Schools have started renovating and improving VDC by SAGUN, andtoilets, organising sanitation campaigns, and and fencing in Saljhandi VDC ofschool grounds, as is provided for in these contingency plans. Rupandehi by FEALPEC.Another positive change is that, under the joint Indreni/DCA programme, community-based early warning systems 2.3 Increasedhave been established by exchanging telephone numbers of agriculturalupstream and downstream DMCs. Financial institutions are production bymore willing to provide loans to farmers to initiate climate- adopting climate-smart cropping patterns. Delegations of DMC members adapted techniquespersuaded Kapilvastu DDC to ban the extraction of soil, The project invested time andstones, and boulders from riverbanks and people have begun energy in introducing climate-to practice farming along riverbanks. Besides conserving smart cropping practices. Peopleriverbanks, locals have re-started traditional irrigation learned why crops had failed in recent years and, aftersystems, safeguarded the bridge over the Banganga River consulting agriculture technicians and agro-vets, adoptedat the Mahendra Highway, and indirectly contributed to more suitable seed varieties and new practices in order tosupplying clean water to the Jagadishpur wetlands. increase productivity. In coordination with the District Agriculture Development Office, the project promoted2.2 Retrofitted one school building and agroforestry-based horticulture and demonstratedcarried out bio-engineering work in two drought-friendly technology, including a system of wheatsites in order to demonstrate a disaster- intensification. With project support, people started toresilient approach to development cultivate peanuts, watermelon, and vegetables on theTo increase safety and to demonstrate earthquake-resistant degraded land along the banks of the Banganga River. Alsoconstruction techniques, two rooms in one block of Shree along the riverbank, they planted fodder and forage speciesSecondary School (870 sq. ft.) were retrofitted in a first-of- that have excellent soil-holding capacities and extendedits-kind effort in Kapilvastu. Though this particular initiative the practice of green fencing with Jatropha species plants.will currently secure more than 900 student who attend this Farmers planted Indian ginseng (aswagandha), snakerootschool, thousands of students in schools across Kapilvastu (sarpagandha), and asparagus (kurilo) for the first time andwill benefit from replicating the learning it generated. Many increased the area of ginger, turmeric, onion, and garlic underorganisations have already visited the school to learn about cultivation. Though the project ran just six months, each ofthe retrofitting technology and the use of environmentally- the participating families was able to generate NRs. 18,000 toappropriate construction materials. The contribution of NRs. 32,000 by selling farm products, and farm productivitythe National Society for Earthquake Technologies (NSET) increased 40-55%. After participating in trainings and seeingin making design and estimating building costs was various techniques demonstrated, many began organiccommendable. farming, applying green manure and bio-pesticides, planting local seeds, and adopting eco-friendly preservation practicesBefore the project was launched, sediment deposition and and proper seed storage techniques. Demonstration plots ofriverbank erosion turned thousands of hectares of cultivated mustard and vegetables were planted in Kushma and Khuteniland into desert, rendered hundreds of families landless, VDCs respectively to ensure a practical way of disseminatingand forced many to migrate to other villages. To mitigate knowledge about seasonal crop calendars, techniquesthis devastating problem, the project constructed two bio- of land and seed bed preparation, nursery management,engineering spurs, each 35 feet long and 15 feet wide, at transplantation, weeding and harvesting.Motipur-5, Dhaneshpur VDC, drawing upon indigenousknowledge. The spurs used a low-cost technology which drew A meteorological station the project established in Shreeupon the traditional skill of weaving bhakari/tati (bamboo large Secondary School in Kushma VDC recorded maximum andbasket) and comprised bamboo, jute sacks, sand, boulders and minimum temperatures, wind pressure, and rainfall usingthe plantation of fast-growing fodder and grass. Together, the project-supplied apparatuses—a thermometer, a barometer,spurs will conserve about 610 hectares of cultivated land of and a rain gauge. The station targeted students, with the213 families. Bamboo spur technology has already replicated objective of making them aware of changing climatic pattern,in three places by three different organisations: in Sauraha but farmers, too, benefited from increase information.
Before retrofiting After retrofiting2.4 Formed and strengthened eight 3. Major learninginclusive, active and well-coordinated DMCsThe inclusiveness of the eight DMCs formed under the Efforts in social mobilisation and communityprogramme and, indeed, of the project’s approach as a whole empowerment are excellent because NDRC Nepalhas reduced discrimination and increased harmony among coordinated with local NGOs like SAGUN andpeople. This inclusive approach has also helped formalise Indreni, which coordinate well with irrigation andlocal networks, enabled children to be better monitored forestry federations. As a result, a strong synergy wasand protected in a disaster, and made it easier to mobilise created and the project was able to leverage additionalchildren and their families to respond to disasters. School resources.based DMCs successfully addressed psycho-social distress, The project succeeded in empowering communitiesincluding the trauma, anxiety, and fear induced by disasters. because it used effective means of disseminating DRR messages, including street dramas, drills and DRR-basedEach DMC at project communities established an emergency extra-curricular activities. Plays are especially good atfund through small initiatives like encouraging nominal teaching: because of their emotional appeal, they aremonthly savings and running a “fistful of rice” campaign. very popular and their messages are remembered forThey also raised money by collecting levies from sand and long periods.boulders extractors, charging fees to watch street dramas, Grievances were few and apprehension minimal becauseand encouraging donations to cultural programmes. the project adopted an appreciative inquiry approach. PVA exercises helped people realise the nature of2.5 Motivated the government to allocate and reasons for their vulnerability and sustainablefunding for and to support disaster livelihood and small-scale mitigation initiatives helpedresponse activities in four VDCs build trust.The activities of DMCs are not limited within their communities;they have started to form and strengthen DMC networks foradvocacy, lobbying and campaigning. DMC members visited 4. The path aheadVDCs and the Kapilvastu DDC to mobilise external resourceand got a green signal from them. DMCs are increasingly The inclusive DMCs formed do, in fact, execute DRR andable to mobilise internal resources as well. For example, they climate change activities, but they are still nascent andapproached community forest users groups and the Kapilvastu need more capacity-building and backstopping in orderdistrict forest and district soil conservation offices to get the to be able to address the most contemporary of DRRseedlings and technical advice they needed to bioengineer a and CCA issues. There also needs to be support for thespur; Kapilvastu District Agriculture Office to select climate- institutionalisation of their emergency funds. design&printproduction: WPS, 5550289, firstname.lastname@example.org resilient crops; the media to disseminate More emphasis needs to be placed on programmes rather information; and local cooperatives to than projects, and DRR and CCA initiatives should be investing more money in climate- linked with integrated watershed management plans smart cropping patterns. Persuaded in upstream areas, particularly the President of Nepals by the recommendations of the Churia Programme. Kapilvastu DDRC, a USAID As this relatively small initiative had a great impact, high-level mission visited the some funding should be channelled into piloting the project’s sites to gather ideas local adaptation plan of action (LAPA) process at the and exchange learning regarding local level. The project’s good practices need to be community-based DRR and CCA replicated in other VDCs of Banganga River Basin and initiatives. its learning disseminated, and follow-up activities must be conducted in the project communities. More rights- All the results discussed above based advocacy and campaigning should be designed contribute to flagship areas 1, 2, 4 and 5 of and executed to make Banganga River Basin a learningthe NSDRM as well as to priorities 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the HFA. centre for DRR and CCA. Dhruba Gautam, Ph.D. Executive Director National Disaster Risk Reduction Centre (NDRC Nepal) New Baneshwor-34, GPO Box 19532, Kathmandu, Nepal • Tel/Fax: +977-01-4115619, 98510-95808 Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org • URL: www.ndrc.org.np