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Preventing flooding through bund strengthening and shutter construction – Protecting agricultural land from flooding in the village of Kumarakudi, India

Submitted by Sibylle Kabisch 23rd April 2014 16:28


Kumarakudi's strengthened bund protecting arable land

The coastal village of Kumarakudi in Tamil Nadu with its 2,000 inhabitants is located 3km from the seashore on the Bay of Bengal. The town has been witnessing more storms over recent years. Salt water flooded the fields from the Sunder River inlet in the rainy season and from the sea during cyclone season, damaging the soil. Storms have been hitting the coastline with an increasing intensity. For example, when ‘Cyclone Thane’ hit the village in December 2011, over 50 acres of crops were destroyed as fields were flooded, causing land to turn saline and impacting on the quality of the groundwater. As the supply with municipal piped water was irregular, drinking water for the 340 families became scarce.

Supported by the EU-sponsored project “AdaptCap”, the community decided to address the water scarcity and land salinity by building a 2 km long bund, 3 m high and 8 m wide. To ensure a high stability the bund was made of stiff clay, hard red earth and gravely soil. Vegetation on the bund walls prevents erosion. In addition, a shutter was placed where the fields’ irrigation canal and the Manjal River join to allow field drainage. These measures now protect the community’s fields from flooding and salination, which make it possible to again use large areas for agricultural purposes. The quality of the groundwater is restored, having a far lower salinity level.

The community has already seen positive changes. In addition, another project for renovating the local pond was implemented based on a similar AdaptCap project in another village. The Panchayat undertook the renovations with financial support from the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREG). The Rajiv Gandhi Rojgar Yojana (RGRY) programme made it possible to also construct steps alongside the pond. This project complements the bund and shutter projects built through the AdaptCap project. The key benefits of this adaptation measure for the community of Kumarakudi are:

  • Agricultural land protected from salt water intrusion: 200 acres of land protected from floods and salt water infiltration
  • Increase of harvest compared to the previous years: Harvests are expected to double from 10 to 20 bags per acre, worth a total amount of Rs. 2 million and an increase to 30 bags per acre is probable once salinity levels have further decreased

Implementation cost

The overall costs of this adaptation measure – including a local vulnerability and needs assessment, capacity building measures in the community, technical support as well as material and labour costs – amounted to Rs. 991,630. Of these, Rs. 911,630 were borne by AdaptCap while the community contributed Rs. 80,000.

Operation & maintenance of the system

In order to remain operative in the long run, several parts of the system require regular operation and maintenance (O&M). Regular O&M activities include:

  • Verifying constructed adaptation measures are fully intact and working
  • Strengthening and repairing bund regularly
  • Maintain the bund vegetation cover
  • Cleaning of the irrigation and drainage channels
  • Maintaining and repairing the shutter

The community has distributed the responsibilities and time frames for O&M activities among the Village Development Committee, who ensure that the adaptation measure is functioning, and the farming community, who strengthen the bund and repair the shutter. The Panchayat cleans the irrigation and drainage channels after the rainy season. Most of the maintenance activities can therefore be implemented independently by the community. The average monthly O&M costs amount to Rs. 2,800. The local Task Force Committee collects a contribution fee from all the beneficiaries in the village.

M&E of activities and benefits

A monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system was developed to regularly screen and assess the adaptation project’s sustainability and impact. Information is collected in four areas:

  • Effectively achieved vulnerability reduction
  • Acceptance by and technical feasibility for the community
  • Cost for implementation and regular O&M
  • Positive and negative side effects (i.e., environmental, social, economic)

 Challenges and lessons learnt

  • Building the bund should be done outside the rainy season as heavy rain events damage the bund while under construction and delays the drying process.
  • Obtain all relevant permissions from the respective departments before starting the construction.
  • A large amount of earth material is necessary as well as machines and it has to be ensured that they are available before construction works start.

Project background and partners

The project “AdaptCap – Strengthening Adaptation Capacities and Minimizing Risks of Vulnerable Coastal Communities in India” financed by the European Commission has set out to strengthen the adaptation capacities of vulnerable coastal communities in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu (India) and minimize their climate change-related risks using an integrated approach.

The three-year initiative is implemented by the Indo-German Environment Partnership Programme of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ-IGEP) in partnership with four Indian and international partners.

GIZ-IGEP is responsible for the overall implementation and project management.

AVVAI Village Welfare Society (AVVAI) supports the stakeholders in three cities and nine villages in Tamil Nadu as a local partner, providing training and implementation support in assessing adaptation needs and developing and carrying out adaptation measures.

Academy of Gandhian Studies (AGS) fulfills the same role in Andhra Pradesh.

adelphi contributed to developing technology solutions for the pilot projects and M&E frameworks, designing and implementing capacity building programmes and providing technical support for pilot project implementation.

ICLEI South Asia led the implementation of activities in the six urban areas targeted by AdaptCap.