D.I. Khan village gets a bigger bang for its bucks
PESHAWAR, July 20: Kohawar, a Dera Ismail Khan village, is an example of protecting the people and agricultural land from seasonal floods by making a meagre investment in building a protective structure along a seasonal watercourse.
While villages around it experienced a large-scale human displacement and losses to agriculture farms and livestock in 2010 due to devastating flooding, Kohawar was the only place that did not suffer.
A study conducted by Inter Cooperation, a development organisation that works in partnership with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, notes that around Rs433,000 investment made in 2009 to construct an embankment along a seasonal watercourse saved Kohawar from the devastating effects of the 2010 floods.
Situated at a distance of around 35 kilometres from DI Khan town, Kohawar has a disturbing history of losses to agricultural land and public life prior to the construction of the protective structure.
The study notes that since 2006 (prior to the construction of the embankment in 2009) the seasonal floods caused destruction of nearly half of the village, affecting the livelihood of a population of 119 households.
Kohawar suffered due to torrential rains into the catchment area of three streams that join at a point close to it upstream
The embankment’s construction, according to the study, made a visible difference for the village folks as seasonal watercourse experienced active flood for seven consecutive days in March-April 2009, but the village did not suffer any damage.The study supports the premise that prevention is cost effective to protect the people’s lives and properties from floods than extending relief to the affected communities in the post-flood situations.
Through a cost-benefit analysis, the study reveals that the Rs433,000 expenditure incurred on building the dyke translates into an investment of Rs405 per person out of a total Kohawar population of 1,071 persons, who have been protected from floods since 2009.
In economic terms, effectiveness of dyke has been found to be far greater than the money invested on building the embankment.
The study notes that during the days of the 2009 floods the villagers “confidently remained focused on their livelihood activities rather than staying at home for the protection of their village and houses.”
Their livestock remained safe and women continued to discharge their daily chores instead of monitoring the seasonal watercourse or managing their belonging and livestock for migration to safer places in times of floodwater inundating their village.“When the super flood of 2010 hit the area again, all the surrounding villages were submerged, but Kohawar remained safe with not a single damage to report,” according to the study.
Conducted by a team of four researchers, the study recommends that “investment for protective measures must be planned keeping in view the vulnerable contexts without underestimating likelihoods of damages for individual villages.”
The study also compares Kohawar’s success story with a nearby DI Khan village, Gara Sheikh, where the 2010 floods caused total losses of Rs17.6 million to 43 households.
Each of the 43 Gara Sheikh households suffered Rs409,000 losses because of damages caused to agricultural land, livestock. Besides, families suffered loss of livelihood as the village experienced a massive displacement with population heading to safer places.
Applying Gara Sheikh’s figures of losses to Kohawar to draw a cost benefit analysis of the protective structure, the study noted that the construction of the embankment saved the people of Kohawar from likely total losses of Rs43 million.
According to the analysis, the cost-benefit ratio of the protection structure is 1:112, implying that each rupee spent for protection saved 112 rupees of damages in Kohawar.
Conversely if the people of Gara Sheikh had constructed a dyke, prior to the 2010 floods, by investing Rs433,000, the losses (Rs17.6 million) would have been curtailed to 1:41, implying that every each rupee invested on building the protective structure would have saved Rs41 damages in Gara Sheikh.
Drawing comparative analysis, the study concludes that the Rs433,000 investment in the protection structure in Kohawar “not only helped save 119 households from economic losses but also shielded them from other sufferings and trauma of displacement and starvation as experienced by the people in Gara Sheikh, which cannot be monetised.”