Localized Durable Solutions for landless communitiesPublished: Feb 15, 2023 Reading time: 4 minutes
“It rained all day and night; we knew that if it rained so much, it would flood. It flooded on the north side when the embankment burst. There was water everywhere, and houses were swept away”, recalls Rita Devi Sada, flood-affected landless beneficiary from Saptakoshi Municipality. Rita’s father-in-law and family had already migrated from three villages.
Rita adds, “Last year, we could not enter our house for about 4-5 months. We had to sleep outside, in the open. It was tough. I hope that never happens again. We are currently living on someone else’s land [after migrating]. We do not have any land of our own, so it is uncertain when the landowners will ask us to leave.”
In Nepal, flooding has become more frequent in recent years, resulting in loss of life and livelihoods. The impacts of natural catastrophes, especially floods, affect landless people and farmers with small holdings more profoundly because they are more likely to lose the little arable land they have, which feeds into a cycle of landlessness.
Therefore, People in Need (PIN) and our consortium partner Community Self Reliance Centre (CSRC), with support from UK AID, implemented the project “Durable Solutions III: Facilitating the Durable Solutions for Landless Households at Risk of or Displaced by Floods in Madhesh Pradesh” (DS III). The consortium advocates across three tiers of the government to mainstream social inclusion into good governance practices, specifically in municipalities, and to ensure that landless households have access to governmental services as per governmental provisions before, during, or after floods.
The project provides municipalities with technical support and capacity building to integrate durable solutions into official governmental processes of identifying, validating, and recording (IVR) landless and informal settlers in Saptakoshi and Kathariya Municipalities. The IVR process identified 4,670 landless and informal settlers like Rita. The facilitation approach supported 57 flood-affected landless households in accessing government social security allowances by obtaining vital documents such as citizenship cards, birth certificates, disability cards, and marriage certificates. Among the families, 34 children obtained access to the child nutrition allowance, and two people with disabilities obtained the disability allowance. Moreover, the consortium leveraged the government drinking water scheme and electricity service for the landless households of Katahariya and Saptakoshi Municipalities.
“I am 50 years old and have used oil lamps or lived in the dark all my life. My daughter studies during day time since we had no light,” shared Sona Devi Shah, another beneficiary. After getting married, she and her husband stayed at her father’s house since her husband was also landless. Their house is made of bamboo and clay, with a thatched roof. They earn a living by working as daily wage workers. Since they couldn’t afford to install an electric metre or get the required documentation for installation, they have lived without electricity. Because of the project, they have an electric metre installed and have access to electricity and light for the first time.
For people like Sona and Rita, summer, winter and the monsoon season are always critical. During summer, they have to endure heatstroke and snake bites; during winter, it’s the bitter cold snaps; and in the monsoon season, they endure floods and inundations. Climate change mainly affects the vulnerable population, especially women.
To further reduce disaster risks, the project, in collaboration with the security forces, conducted simulations and drills focussing on different ways to extinguish fires, the use of fire extinguishers; what to do during flooding; and staying safe during crises such as fire, cold snaps and flooding. During the exercises, local people, along with local government officials, participated in the drills and learnt to stop fires safely, rescue people at risk, and stay safe during crises.
Krishna Prasad Dhakal, Mayor of Saptakoshi Municipality, stressed the necessity to build policies and conduct awareness-raising programs in the community; he further noted that the protection of the environment and considerations of climate change must be timely. Similarly, Anil Pokhrel, Chief Executive of the National Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Authority (NDRRMA), noted, “we need to think of sustainable and durable solutions that are homegrown but also considerate of different hazards. So, looking at these hazards, adopting a technological choice that addresses these risk considerations is a good way to proceed. We can never control a river, but what we can do is live with it.”
In coordination with the NDRRMA and the Housing and Settlements Resilience Coordination Platform (NHSRP), the project is working on a flood-resilient housing solution focusing on the landless population in Madhesh Pradesh, Nepal. This effort will provide durable local solutions to prepare and respond to future disasters, save lives, and strengthen the localization of DRR and adaptation in Nepal.