In the nearby village of Tikili of Kanchanpur, villagers also plant pumpkin, watermelon, banana, squash and gourd after floods recede – taking advantage of nutrients deposited by flood waters — which adds to their income. This has discouraged open cattle grazing, which in turn helps the vegetation to grow back and provide an additional layer of protection from the floods.
Now that the river has been tamed by barriers of gabion walls, sugarcane, bamboo and elephant grass, the land is secure enough to plant paddy, vegetables and other cash crops.
“We earn an extra Rs50,000 per year selling bananas, which has been quite helpful in running the household,” says Rajudevi Rana, 40, as she picks clusters of the ripening fruit from her family plot near the river.
Most of the rain in Nepal falls in the three monsoon months from July-September, and the rivers are dry rest of the year. The climate crisis has made the problem of too much or too little water worse, but with the help of development organisations, farmers have learnt to adapt to the new weather pattern.
“We did a lot of research to come up with the solution of combining flood risk reduction with income generation,” explains Saroj Kumar Thakur of Mercy Corps Nepal in Kanchanpur. “This is now a working model that can be replicated in other parts of the Tarai suffering flood risk.”
Food and flood, Sunir Pandey
Border wall, Kanak Mani Dixit