Fighting tidal flooding through community participation in Ernakulam coastal villages

Equinoct, a community-sourced modelling solution provider, along with like-minded organisations have launched the first phase of the programme with funding under the US Fulbright Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund

October 05, 2022 04:36 pm | Updated October 07, 2022 11:55 pm IST - KOCHI

High waves crest the seashore and enter the residences in a coastal village in Ernakulam district

High waves crest the seashore and enter the residences in a coastal village in Ernakulam district | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

An elaborate five-pronged programme to address the challenges posed by climate change, especially tidal flooding, and co-create solutions through community participation has been rolled out along the coastal panchayats of Ezhikkara, Kumbalangi, and Puthenvelikkara.

Equinoct, a community-sourced modelling solution provider, along with like-minded organisations — M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Community Resource Centre Puthenvelikkara, ASAR and Resilient Destinations Foundation — have launched the first phase of the programme with funding under the US Fulbright Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund.

Three stages

“The first step is capacity building among the community participation through the participation of political and administrative agencies, including the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA). Local bodies and people’s representatives, the district panchayat will also be engaged. Being the co-chair of DDMA, the district panchayat president has an important role to play in decentralised disaster risk mitigation planning,” said C. Jayaraman, managing director of Equinoct and project lead.

A house inundated in tidal flooding at Puthenvelikkara.

A house inundated in tidal flooding at Puthenvelikkara.

The second stage is creating media awareness so that the seriousness of climate change and related problems are turned into a discussion point thus attracting the political and administrative attention. A series of media workshops will be held in this regard starting this October 12. The campaign will be expanded to schools and local clubs as well.

In the next stage, a planner with the days of likely tidal flooding based on a lunar calendar, and incorporating the knowledge of the fishing community, will be distributed to individual households. It enables affected households to mark three vital information – whether their houses were hit by tidal flooding, when it happened and the height to which water rose.

Mobile app and data

A mobile app will also be developed for the purpose. Alongside, scales and automated tidal gauge stations would also be set up with the assistance of the district panchayat.

The data will be collated monthly, or even daily, and a flood inundation map assessing the vulnerability and severity will be created. This will be followed by field work at panchayat ward level to assess the water storage capacity, the route of flooding and critical infrastructure or rather the lack of it. Special grama sabhas will be conducted to discuss the issue and possible solutions.

“The first phase of the project is likely to be completed by May 2022. Subsequent implemention of projects for resolving the issue will be formulated and executed with the assistance of the local bodies,” said Dr. Madhusoodhanan.

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