A network of community-based early warning systems are also in place to relay the data to villages that are vulnerable to flooding – especially along and downstream from the Chure Hills.
“We have installed instruments for early-warning on the Rato River between Mahottari and Dhanusha so that if the water level rises above the danger mark, the information is passed on to communities lower down, and the police, army and Red Cross alerted,” says Nagdev Yadav, whose organisation is trying to broaden the scope of early-warning to also forecast the impact on farms and crops.
However, despite the early warning network throughout the country through SMS, radio and social media, many people still do not take it seriously. They may also not have anywhere safer to go, and there is no landslide hazard risk mapping for villages in the mountains.
“When people have to evacuate from the warning, they tend to only do it at the last moment when the water has come into their houses, and this causes more death and destruction,” says Madhab Uprety.
On Saturday, the streets of far-west Tarai city of Mahendranagar were flooded. There had been heavy rain, but the inundation was caused more by poor drainage and blocked streams.
“It only rained for one day, but it caused widespread submergence of the streets because of blocked drains, the spread of the city into the floodplains, and the squatter settlements along the rivers,” explains disaster management expert Himalaya Thapa.