SPURS AND DYKES
FOR FLOOD WATER PROTECTION
Spurs and dykes are structures that can
be made by communities on a small scale
from wire and stones. They are used to
protect river banks and help the
communities in Nepal cope with flood
Around 80% of Nepal is mountainous. In
these areas heavy rain on the steep slops
erodes the soil and leads to landslides
resulting in loss of land, damage to property
and a threat to life. And in the lower lying
areas of the country there is often flooding
during the monsoon season that threatens
the ravine communities. Much of the
flooding is exacerbated by upstream
activities such as deforestation and
farming. The risk of flooding is also on the
increase due to rising riverbed levels and in
locations where narrowing down of rivers
occurs. Breaches of embankments occur
every year in some places.
Figure 1: A small spur showing how bank erosion
People most as risk are those living
can be reversed by capturing sediment behind the
alongside of the river. In many cases these spur. Photo: Practical Action Nepal.
people are the indigenous disadvantaged
ethnic communities i.e. fishermen, farmers, pottery makers, blacksmiths, tailors, cobblers,
bamboo craft workers and untouchables - the socially excluded. The majority are dependent on
the rivers’ resources for their livelihoods, therefore the settlements of these communities are
almost at river level.
Communities that are at risk can act together to put in place flood management plans and work
on preventative measures before flood events occur. Community activities include the use of
gabion in the construction spurs and dykes along with a range of other activities to reduce their
vulnerability to flooding.
The response to floods
Traditionally communities’ responses to floods were often a hastily mobilised reaction to an
emerging disaster or people would make separate preparations on a family basis. To improve on
this situation Practical Action and ECHO worked together along with local partners Sahamati and
CSC on a range of flood risk reduction activities. The approach of Practical Action and its
partners was to galvanise the community to act as a whole in their preparation for floods. A
significant step in the approach was to establish a Community Flood Management Committee -
CFMC that promoted cooperation.
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