Saving more lives with small investments
August 2008; Sabitri Mahato and Tanka Narayan Chaudhary of the predominantly Tharu community of Divyanagar - 4 in Chitwan district, have a lot to smile about these days. Ever since UNDP's Community Based Disaster Management Project (CBDMP) provided their village, a grant of Rs. 250,000 (US$ 3,660) through the Chitwan District Development Committee (DDC), the villagers feel secure, free of fear from flooding by the nearby Narayani river. With the money ' the villagers contributed free labour to construct stone and wire meshing spurs that directed the Narayani's water flow away from the village and towards the opposite shore, which is uninhabited. In addition, hundreds of saplings were planted along the riverside to create a natural barrier against flooding.
Divyanagar ' 4 village is precariously situated on the banks of the mighty Narayani River ' a confluence of Trishuli, Rapti, Kali Gandaki and Seti rivers of central and western Nepal.
Ever since Chitwan was opened up for human settlement by eradicating malaria in 1959, deforestation has been rampant. Due to massive loss of forest cover in the past five decades, flooding by the Narayani has become a common occurrence.
Flooding was so severe in Divyanagar that the river now flows on land where 80 houses used to stand until 1993. As the river steadily changed course and neared the remaining 42 houses on the banks, the villagers had given up hope about saving their village.
With the work done with the assistance of the CBDMP project, the lives and livelihoods, of the inhabitants of the 42 households in the village has been saved from the ravages of flooding. "The security of our and our children's livelihoods and existence have increased, we have a reason to have hopes about the future," remarked Mahato.