World Bank Funds Flood Project In NE India

Apr 12th, 2013 | By | Category: Capacity Development, Climatic Changes in Himalayas, Disaster and Emergency, Disasters and Climate Change, Ecosystem Functions, Flood, Government Policies, Information and Communication, International Agencies, Land, Lessons, News, River, Vulnerability, Water, Weather

Assam flood india bloomsTelegraph India: World Bank, which is funding a $150-million project on integrated flood and erosion management in the Northeast, has called for a multi-sector approach towards management of water resources in the Brahmaputra basin.

The bank’s suggestion is meant to ensure that the states involved benefit from the risks and opportunities associated with a multi-sector approach, as the existing institutional arrangements, technical knowledge and capacity for integrated water resources management are inadequate to deal with the recurrent crisis arising out of floods and erosion. Nagaland, Assam and Meghalaya will benefit most from the project.

Sources said the project — Integrated Flood and Erosion Management in Northeast Region — is scheduled to get approved by March next year and will be implemented by the DoNER ministry.

The Asian Development Bank, too, is funding a $120-million Assam Integrated Flood and River Erosion Risk Management Investment Programme to provide protection from river erosion and floods in three places of Assam.

The World Bank project information document said the project would aim to bridge the existing gaps and build knowledge using global experience and best practices as well as significant financing.

It will also try to strengthen the institutional structure and capacity in the selected states in the Brahmaputra catchment areas, including Nagaland, Assam and Meghalaya. The biggest challenge is to deal with, and mitigate, the impact of annual flooding of the Brahmaputra and Barak rivers and the flash floods caused by their major tributaries emanating from hills of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Bhutan.

“While the government has relief programmes to help ameliorate some of the losses experienced by people from floods, a more comprehensive programme to better manage the river and bring the best technical approaches to deal with the issue of floods and erosion has not been in place. Assam has also made efforts to avoid loss of embankments by constructing spurs in some vulnerable locations. Breaches of embankments during times of flood have also occurred (apparently over 70 breaches occurred during the floods in 2012), bringing damage and loss of life in its wake. Improvements in system-wide flood and erosion management could be achieved with the design and implementation of a strategic programme, drawing upon better technical standards and a knowledge-driven decision making system,” it said.

The project will have two components — integrated watershed and flood management and information systems.

The bank said the problems are generally substantially different in the hill states from the issues of flooding and erosion experienced in Assam, largely on account of the significant differences in water availability between the hills and the plains.

“The low percentage of cultivable land on the hills combined with the lack of river water and irrigation facilities are leading to low land productivity. Such constraints of water and land are among the main reasons for popularity of slash and burn (jhum) cultivation, which has become unsustainable in many areas and is causing excessive soil runoff in the upper catchment, significantly adding to the sediment load on the river system,” it said.

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