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Posted at: Jun 16, 2015, 2:02 AM; last updated: Jun 16, 2015, 1:22 AM (IST)

Warning systems set up to curb flash flood risks

Bijay Sankar Bora

Tribune News Service

Guwahati, June 15

Devastating flash floods usually induced by incessant rains in the upstream of the rivers that are flowing down from Arunachal Pradesh hills cause extensive damage to lives and property in bordering districts of Dhemaji and Lakhimpur in the Assam valley.

Flash floods in rivers Jiadhal and Singora have remained bane of life for lakhs of people living in villages of the two districts.

Aaranyak, a bio-diversity conservation and research organisation in the Northeast in collaboration with Kathmandu-based International Centre of Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), has launched a community-based project to set up the flood early warning system (FEWS) in the districts to prevent loss of life and valuables due to flash floods.

A team of ICIMOD-Aaranyak researchers led by Dr Partha Jyoti Das has set up FEWS devices in some locations after surveying flood-affected areas of the two districts. The FEWS project has won the Light House Activity Award of 2014 from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as an innovative means of flood risk reduction. The award was given to ICIMOD and Aaranyak in Lima, Peru, during the COP-20 in December 2014.

“The FEWS are aimed at providing early warning so that the villagers get at least 90 minute to face the flash flood. It is especially helpful in night hours. The system neutralises the shock factor and vulnerable people such as old ones, children and women could be evacuated to safety in time,” Dr Das said.

A FEWS comprises a flood gauge with a control unit powered by solar panels. The electronic sensors fitted inside the flood gauge are at different heights (to indicate various risk levels) and produce a sound when the water rises in the river.

The control unit is set up in a household near the river. A member of the household is trained to keep a watch on the device and disseminate flood warnings in the village and its surrounding areas.

Aaranyak-ICIMOD has engaged a team of field staff in flood-affected districts of eastern Assam to sensitise villagers how to utilise the FEWS devices to save their lives and valuables during flash floods.

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