Title :Livelihood Resilience in Gandak---- Kosi Floodplain WetlandsKosi Floodplain WetlandsKosi Floodplain WetlandsKosi Floodplain Wetland
Author ; Pranati Patnaik, Anita Chakraborty
Abstract: Floods are an annual phenomenon in Gandak-Kosi floodplains of North Bihar. According to historical data, 16.5% of the total flood affected area in India is located in Bihar while 22.1% of the flood affected population in India lives in Bihar.Kosi River also referred to as the ‘sorrow of Bihar’ is one of the main reasons for flood in Bihar. Degraded ecosystem, climate variability and contested social structure have made communities inhabiting the Gandak- Kosi floodplains even more vulnerable to the vagaries of nature. To understand the geophysical, ecological and social context of risk in Gandak- kosi floodplains an integrated vulnerability capacity assessment was conducted in 85 villages within 6 districts under the Partners of Resilience project by Wetlands International- South Asia.Review of secondary information and analysis of the survey data of a total of 2,578 households of Gandak- Kosi floodplains indicates developmental activities skewed towards structural engineering have led to fragmentation of the floodplain wetlandsystemresultinginhighsedimentloadwithinriverchannelswhichcauses overbankfloodingintheplainsandlosstolifeandlivelihood.Community perception of key elements at risk due to floods were natural infrastructure (70%)followed by shelter (> 60%), human life and asset (60%), drinking water source and sanitationstructure(>55%),sourceoffood(50%)andinstitutions(30%) respectively. Natural resources like ponds and grazing land experienced higher level of vulnerability in floods due to siltation. Since, majority of the communitydepend on wage labour, migration has been adopted as a response strategy for livelihood as well as for coping disaster in periods of stress. More that 60% of the households undertake migration during post-monsoon. Limited availability of early warningsystemsandlackofcapacitytotranslatesophisticatedweather information restricts early action and response during hazard. Measures to improve livelihood resilience in Gandak- Kosi floodplains should take into consideration improvinghydrologicalconnectivity,providingalternatelivelihoodoptionsandincreasing disaster preparedness at both individual and community level.