Nepal's flood early warning system - Lessons learned from population surveys and interviews in the flood-prone West Rapti Basin

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Insinööritieteiden korkeakoulu | Master's thesis
Water and Environmental Engineering
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Master's Programme in Water and Environmental Engineering (WAT)
Flood early warning systems (FEWS) can help reduce flood impacts for people living in flood-prone areas. Nepal suffers from a range of flood types, and regions of the country are flooded regularly during the monsoon season. In the past ten years, Nepal has undergone major changes, such as transitioning into federalism since 2017, and a rapid development of technical capacity. Few studies have been carried out to analyse how these changes have affected the structure and capability of FEWS in the country, and how such systems can be further improved. This thesis explores the current state and future perspectives of FEWS in Nepal, using the West Rapti Basin as a case study. In this flood-prone basin, a population survey using questionnaires (n = 100) was conducted to obtain quantitative data from citizens. Furthermore, eight semi-structured interviews (SSIs) were carried out to gather qualitative data from key informants knowledgeable about FEWS in Nepal. From the mixed-method approach using data from both citizens and key informants, it was found that FEWS in Nepal rely mostly on top-down communication of flood early warnings, with significant involvement from the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) as a central actor. The findings highlight several challenges faced by FEWS, including warning message reception and interpretation, and community engagement. Potential improvements were identified on a both a local- and national-scale such as increasing NGO involvement, holding sessions for feedback by residents, improving coordination of flood evacuation processes, and increasing mobile network coverage and capacity. Community- and national-scale FEWS activities in Nepal are linked, and while technical capacity in Nepal develops and FEWS move further towards top-down methods, community-focused activities should not be neglected.
Varis, Olli
Thesis advisor
Láng-Ritter, Josias
Shrestha, Anup
flood risk management, early warning systems, disaster risk reduction, flooding, qualitative data
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