standard Sustainable management of flooding on the Kosi River

brief thumbnailFlooding from the Kosi River in Bihar, India and Nepal is a complex issue that has displaced millions of people and current efforts to mitigate flooding on the Kosi have been insufficient in addressing future breaches of the river embankment. Recently there have been flood alerts issued in districts of Bihar and Nepal including evacuations of people living along the Bihar-Nepali border. While the last breach of the Kosi River embankment occurred in 2008 the possibility of future flood disaster is of great concern, especially for communities that live near the Kosi.

In collaboration with Professor Rajiv Sinha, a geoscientist with the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, and Professor Alex Densmore from Earthquakes without Frontiers, IHRR has published a research brief on solutions for mitigating flooding on the Kosi River through sustainable river management. The brief recommends that measures be taken to address the movement of sediment, one of the main contributing factors to flooding on the Kosi River, along with other ways to help mitigate flooding based on recently published research on the Kosi. While the embankment has failed to prevent the Kosi River from migrating it still must be regularly maintained and the brief explains the importance of GIS for monitoring the river and the use of flood risk maps based on scientific data. Improvements in river management identified by the brief include strategic dredging to help keep the river away from the embankments, creating space within the embankments to allow the river to flow and developing a long-term sediment management plan.

The brief also emphasises the importance of working with local communities to create flood management plans that are in their best interest. This would help ‘empower communities to involve themselves in developing their own flood defence systems and in preparing for future flood events’.

Read the brief – Living with the Floods: Sustainable Management of the Kosi River

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