Flood Resilient Shelters save Families from Flash Floods
32 year old Lily Begum’s house was 100 feet away from the embankment at Shariakandi, a sub-district in Bogra district, which overflowed after the monsoon rains since 9th June. Several other districts in the northern Bangladesh have also been inundated as Jamuna, Brahmaputra, Teesta, Dharla, and the Dudhkumar Rivers started flowing above their danger levels at several places after the heavy downpour. As the water rose, the high level water pressure from the rivers collapsed embankments partially in different points and water rushed into low lying areas and chars. This year around 50 meter of newly constructed Government embankment at Kamalpur union of Shariakandi collapsed due to heavy water pressure in Jamuna River and as a result low lying areas were inundated.
A resident of river erosion area, Lily Begum was no stranger to this calamity and had already apprehended that the embankment could break at any point of time. As the water started flowing dangerously high, she discussed safety measures with her husband. Luckily for Lily, she owned a flood resilient shelter, and her husband, 48 years old Mannan Mia, was also trained on how to deconstruct and reassemble flood resilient shelters. As soon as they decided to move to a safer place from the soon-to-be inundated location, it was matter of hours to relocate their household materials at a secured place and move to a relative’s house.
However, this was not the case always. These areas were heavily affected during the 2014 floods when 2.1 million people were affected and around 208,147 houses were damaged. Since then UNDP together with Government of Bangladesh and DFAT-Australia started implementing a project called “Flood Resilient Recovery in Sariakandi”.
The story unfolded in March 2015 when the community representatives along with the local carpenters participated in a workshop organized in Ghughumari Village of Chandan Baisha Union and debated on a prototype shelter which is flood resilient. During this workshop spanning 4 days they came out with 2 similar shelter designs (A Char Chala and a Dui Chala house which are more prevalent in this region) along with a toilet by choosing the appropriate materials and technology for the construction. The cost of the prototype shelter was about 1,050 USD and the community adopted the design to be replicated in the Union for the affected families. The event was followed with formation of project implementation committees which consisted of the community members. In the process the community was empowered to have a say on the quality of materials, workmanship and quality of the construction.
And the larger story followed! So far, 74 families have constructed the flood resilient shelters through the project, including Lily Begum and her family. The design of the shelter is such that it can be deconstructed in an hour and moved to safer places to protect from floods, the shelter can again be reassembled with the deconstructed materials. The project relies on a community driven recovery approach by providing training to beneficiaries so that they can act quickly at the onset of a flash flood.
As a result of the project, this year Lily and her husband were able to deconstruct and shift their flood resilient shelter, which was constructed last month, within an hour to protect it from flash floods. “It was easy to deconstruct and shift the house. We will reassemble it when the water level decreases. In 2014, we lost our house and other assets in flash floods. Now we can protect our assets because of this kind of resilient shelters” said Lily in a confident tone.
SKS Foundation, a local NGO partner of UNDP ERF, has been implementing Flood Resilient Recovery Project in collaboration with Bogra District Administration and Department of Disaster Management in Sariakandi Upazila of Bogra District. It is expected that this project will strengthen the resilience of 200 households to floods by September 2015.