Flood Early Warning
Systems in Nepal
A Gendered Perspective
ICIMOD Working Paper 2014/4
ICIMOD gratefully acknowledges the support of its core donors:
The Governments of Afghanistan, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India,
Myanmar, Nepal, Norway, Pakistan, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, ICIMOD, is a regional knowledge
development and learning centre serving the eight regional member countries of the Hindu Kush
Himalayas – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan – and
based in Kathmandu, Nepal. Globalization and climate change have an increasing inﬂuence on
the stability of fragile mountain ecosystems and the livelihoods of mountain people. ICIMOD aims
to assist mountain people to understand these changes, adapt to them, and make the most of new
opportunities, while addressing upstream-downstream issues. We support regional transboundary
programmes through partnership with regional partner institutions, facilitate the exchange of
experience, and serve as a regional knowledge hub. We strengthen networking among regional
and global centres of excellence. Overall, we are working to develop an economically and
environmentally sound mountain ecosystem to improve the living standards of mountain populations
and to sustain vital ecosystem services for the billions of people living downstream – now, and for
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, Kathmandu, Nepal, September 2014
Mandira Singh Shrestha
Shesh Kanta Kaﬂe
Min Bahadur Gurung
Hari Krishna Nibanupudi
Vijay Ratan Khadgi
Flood Early Warning Systems
A Gendered Perspective
ICIMOD Working Paper 2014/4
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
GPO Box 3226, Kathmandu, Nepal
Copyright © 2014
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)
All rights reserved. Published 2014
ISBN 978 92 9115 321 3 (printed)
978 92 9115 322 0 (electronic)
Printed and bound in Nepal by
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Photos: Jitendra Bajracharya – pp 10, 20, 34; Juerg Merz – cover; Mandira Singh Shrestha – p 25;
Mukunda Baidya – pp 16, 19; Practical Action – pp 8, 18, 39; Rakesh Mishra – p4
A Beatrice Murray (Consultant editor)
Amy Sellmyer (Editor)
Punam Pradhan (Graphic designer)
Asha Kaji Thaku (Editorial assistant)
This publication may be reproduced in whole or in part and in any form for educational or non-proﬁt purposes without special permission
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whatsoever without prior permission in writing from ICIMOD.
The views and interpretations in this publication are those of the author(s). They are not attributable to ICIMOD and do not imply the
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of its frontiers or boundaries, or the endorsement of any product.
This publication is available in electronic form at www.icimod.org/himaldoc
Citation: Shrestha, MS; Kaﬂe, S; Gurung, M; Nibanupudi, HK; Khadgi, VR; Rajkarnikar, G (2014) Flood early warning systems in Nepal:
A gendered perspective. ICIMOD Working Paper 2014/4. Kathmandu: ICIMOD
Acronyms and Abbreviations vi
Some Key Terms vii
Executive Summary ix
Chapter 1: Introduction 1
Background and Rationale 2
The HKH-HYCOS Project 3
Study Objectives 3
Organization of the Report 4
Chapter 2: Research Questions and Methodology 5
Methodological Framework 6
Frameworks for Analysis 7
Chapter 3: Early Warning Systems – A Review of Current Knowledge 11
Why Early Warning Systems? 12
Why Include Gender Considerations in Early Warning Systems? 13
Flood Early Warning Systems in Nepal 15
Chapter 4: The Study Findings 21
Analysis of Institutions Involved in Disaster Risk Reduction from a Gender Perspective 22
Integration of Gender Considerations in Projects and Activities 24
Legal and Policy Instruments 27
Case Studies on Community-Based Flood Early Warning Systems 29
Chapter 5: Key Challenges, Gaps and Opportunities 35
Challenges and Gaps 36
Chapter 6: Conclusions 37
Annex 1: Organizations Consulted 43
Annex 2: Stakeholder Consultation Questionnaire and Checklist 48
Reducing disaster risk and enhancing community resilience have been underlying commitments of ICIMODs
programmes and initiatives in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region for many years. ICIMOD has prioritized
strengthening resilience to climatic risks and hydrological hazards – especially high intensity rainfall, glacial lake
outburst floods (GLOFs), regional floods, and flash floods – with a focus on research, knowledge, policy, education,
and enhancing capacity, community resilience, and regional cooperation. In order to address the risks facing
mountain communities, support their desire to better understand the flood hazards that might lead to disasters, and
look at ways to mitigate the adverse impacts of floods and promote regional cooperation, ICIMOD has initiated a
long-term programme on flood risk reduction with the aim of making information travel faster than flood water.
South Asia accounts for one-third of the floods in Asia, half of those killed, and more than a third of those affected.
Over three decades (1976–2005), 943 natural disasters were reported in South Asia, of which one-third were
caused by floods, primarily in the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra basins. In Nepal, an average of more than 300
people are killed annually by floods and landslides. Experience shows that more women than men die during such
disasters because of the lack of information, mobility, participation in decision making, and access to resources.
The IPCC has warned that floods of the kind that Pakistan suffered in 2010 may become more frequent and more
intense in the HKH region and other parts of the world because of climate change; while the risk is also increasing
due to increased exposure and vulnerability. As a regional knowledge development and learning centre serving the
eight countries of the HKH region, ICIMOD is providing a regional platform through its HKH-HYCOS Programme
to assist mountain people in implementing improved flood forecasting at national and regional levels, while
addressing upstream-downstream linkages, to save lives and livelihoods.
An end-to-end flood information system is required for timely flood warning and actionable response. Real-time
information gathered from hydrometeorological stations and the products developed from the processed data must
reach both men and women in vulnerable communities to enable better preparedness and action to be taken.
An assessment has been conducted in four countries to improve understanding of existing early warning systems
and improve their effectiveness. The objective was to assess the systems from a gender perspective to support
the development of timely, reliable, and effective systems that can save lives and livelihoods. The assessment has
examined the status of flood early warning systems, conducted gender analysis to understand the participation of
women and their roles and responsibilities in early warning systems, and has developed some recommendations on
developing effective systems.
This report presents the findings from Nepal, but the findings are relevant for those working in the HKH region and
beyond. Through such studies ICIMOD aims to sensitize those involved on the need to integrate gender into flood
early warning systems and to develop policies that encourage the participation and awareness of men and women
and thus contribute to reductions in the loss of lives and livelihoods.
David Molden, PhD
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
Nepal is prone to annual floods and landslides leading to disasters. More than 80% of the rain falls during the
monsoon period from June through September. There is increasing variability of rainfall with rise in extreme
events. The Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) is the mandated organization for monitoring flood
hazards and providing flood warning in Nepal. DHM has a network of hydrometeorological stations that carry out
continuous measurements of rainfall, temperature and water level. DHM has been playing a prominent role in flood
early warning by providing timely information.
There is an increased need for improved climate services in Nepal. Many vulnerable communities as well as various
sectors such as aviation, agriculture, hydropower and disaster risk reduction need weather and climate information
to improve their climate resilience. It is necessary to modernize the hydrometeorological system and real-time
information systems to provide timely forecast and delivery, enhance preparedness, and ensure timely action of men
and women in risk-prone communities who are the ultimate beneficiaries.
This is a timely publication that provides an overview of the early warning systems and recommends ways to improve
them by incorporating the needs of women and men in the flood prone communities. We thank ICIMOD for
giving us the opportunity to contribute to this publication. We are confident that we will continue to strengthen our
collaboration towards minimizing the adverse impacts of flood disasters in Nepal and across the Himalayan region.
Rishi Ram Sharma, PhD
Department of Hydrology and Meteorology
Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment
Acronyms and Abbreviations
DDC district development committee
DHM Department of Hydrology and Meteorology
DMC disaster management committee
GLOF glacial lake outburst flood
ICIMOD International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
MOHA Ministry of Home Affairs
NGO non-governmental organization
NRCS Nepal Red Cross Society
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
VDC village development committee
WMO World Meteorological Organization
The authors would like to thank the members of the Regional Steering Committee of the HKH-HYCOS Programme
for their support in recognizing the need for gender mainstreaming in early warning systems and for approving this
study to assess flood early warning systems from a gender perspective. The generous support from the Ministry for
Foreign Affairs, Government of Finland, for this study is gratefully acknowledged.
The authors express their gratitude to all the institutions and individuals who made themselves available for the
interviews and discussions and provided their valuable time and input to the study. The authors are also grateful
to Surya Poudel and Dipak Acharya from Chitwan and Rakesh Mishra from Nepalgunj for facilitating the field
visits for the case studies. We much appreciate the support of the local communities and their representatives who
participated in the study, provided valuable information, and helped with the case studies at the local level in order
to develop a better understanding of the integration of gender in flood early warning systems at the community
The authors also acknowledge the support of Dr A Beatrice Murray, Amy Sellmyer, Punam Pradhan, and Asha Kaji
Thaku for the editing, text processing, and layout of the report. We would also like to thank Dr Ritu Verma and
Anita Karki who contributed to the study. Finally, we thank Dr Aditi Mukherji, Water and Air Theme Leader, and Dr
Arun Bhakta Shrestha, River Basin Programme Manager, ICIMOD, for providing valuable feedback which helped to
improve the report.
Some Key Terms
Disaster risk reduction: The concept and practice of reducing disaster risk through systematic efforts to analyse and
manage the causal factors of disasters, including through reduced exposure to hazards, lessened vulnerability of
people and property, wise management of land and the environment, and improved preparedness for adverse events.
Early warning system: The set of capacities needed to generate and disseminate timely and meaningful warning
information to enable individuals, communities, and organizations threatened by a hazard to prepare and to act
appropriately and in sufficient time to reduce the possibility of harm or loss.
Community preparedness: Actions taken by a community to mitigate the effects of potential disasters.
Community resilience: Community resilience is a relative term and refers to an ideal condition of a community in
terms of its capacity to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover quickly from the impacts of a disaster. The
disaster resilient community is a positive concept, and while complete resilience is not attainable, every community
is striving to achieve it.
Disaster: A serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society causing widespread human, material,
economic, and environmental losses, which exceed the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its
Flash ﬂood: Sudden and extreme volume of water that flows rapidly causing inundation; can result in heavy loss of
lives and destruction of property.
Flood: The temporary saturation of a normally dry area caused by a high flow or overflow of water in an
established waterway such as a river or drainage ditch; may cause widespread inundation.
Forecast: Definite statement or statistical estimate or the likely occurrence of a future event or conditions for a
Gender: The social attributes and opportunities associated with being male or female and the relationships
between women and men and girls and boys, as well as the relations between women and between men. These
attributes, opportunities, and relationships are socially constructed and are learned through socialization processes.
They are context/time-specific and changeable. Gender determines what is expected, allowed, and valued in a
woman or a man in a given context. In most societies, there are differences and inequalities between women and
men in responsibilities assigned, activities undertaken, access to and control over resources, and decision-making
opportunities. Gender is part of the broader socio-cultural context.
Gender analysis: Gender analysis means assessing the vulnerabilities and inequalities between men and women
before, during, and after a disaster event. It requires collection of sex disaggregated data for baseline and
situational analysis. Analysis of this data leads to the development of policies, programmes, and projects which take
account of gender in all phases of design and implementation and close existing gaps.
Gender mainstreaming: Mainstreaming a gender perspective is the process of assessing the implications for
women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels.
It is a strategy for making both women’s and men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design,
implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic, and societal
spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve
gender equality (ECOSOC 1997).
Gender relations: Refers to the actual and perceived network of relations that occur between men and women.
They involve daily life experiences as well as notions of gender relations which emanate from the media, religion,
history, culture, etc. Usually gender relations are unequal because men have power and women do not (Ariabandhu
and Miathree 2004).
Preparedness: The knowledge and capacities developed by governments, professional response and recovery
organizations, communities, and individuals to effectively anticipate, respond to, and recover from the impacts of
likely, imminent, or current hazard events or conditions.
Risk: Risk describes the expected losses caused by a particular phenomenon and is a combination of the
probability of an event with its negative consequences. R= H*V/C, where R is risk, H is hazard, V is vulnerability,
C is coping capacity.
Vulnerability: The characteristics and circumstances of a community, system, or asset that make it susceptible to
the damaging effects of a hazard; the inability of individuals, households, and communities to prepare for and
respond to hazards; the degree of loss to a given element at risk. It is expressed on a scale of 1 (no damage) to -1
The Hindu Kush Himalayan region is extremely vulnerable to various types of water-induced disasters, particularly
floods and landslides. In Nepal, more than 300 people are killed annually on average as a result of floods
and landslides. Inequalities in society are often amplified at the time of disasters, and poor people, especially
women, the elderly, and children, living along river banks and in the plains are particularly vulnerable to flood
hazards. Timely and reliable flood forecasting and warnings that incorporate the needs of both women and men
can contribute to saving lives and property. Early warning systems that are people-centred, that provide warnings
that are accurate, timely, and understandable to communities at risk, and that recommend appropriate actions
for vulnerable communities are more effective and can save more people. The HKH-HYCOS project is being
implemented by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in collaboration with the
World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and ICIMOD’s regional member countries to address the challenges
of ensuring end-to-end flood early warning systems that include data collection, transmission and analysis, and
the effective dissemination of information to communities at risk. The project has established a regional flood
information system and seeks to promote transboundary cooperation and strengthen the capacity of hydromet
services to provide timely and reliable flood forecasts. For flood early warning systems to be fully effective, they
must reach the end users and meet the different needs of women and men. Thus, a study on ‘Early warning systems
from a gender perspective with special reference to flood hazards’ was conducted in four countries as a part of the
project. This report presents the findings of the study in Nepal.
The study assessed the institutional arrangements, key stakeholders, legal provisions, coordination and linkage
mechanisms, and four key elements of early warning systems – risk knowledge, monitoring and warning services,
dissemination and communication, and response capacity – from the perspective of gender. It also gathered
experiences from two villages with functioning community-based flood early warning systems. A literature review
was carried out to collect state-of-the-art knowledge from national and international research publications, policy
documents, case study reports, articles, databases, and electronic sources. Both qualitative and quantitative
methods and tools were used to collect information at the national, district, and community levels, and both men
and women were contacted in the different organizations and communities. A checklist of indicators was developed
based on global gender and disaster risk reduction frameworks to collect and analyse information on gender
sensitivity in early warning systems. A total of 26 organizations involved in disaster risk reduction were consulted.
At the time of the study in 2012, seven of the organizations (27%) had projects or regular activities related to early
warning systems, a further 15 (58%) had some activities related to early warning systems and/or flood hazard
management, and five had projects on all four elements of people-centred early warning systems. The proportion of
women staff in government and non-governmental organizations was about 19%. Women’s participation in disaster
risk reduction projects was higher in implementation than in project identification, design, and evaluation. The two
case studies on community-based flood early warning systems showed that the effectiveness of flood early warning
systems depends largely upon the community capacity to respond after the alert messages are received. For this,
training on response, drills, and appropriate communication channels are necessary.
The study has improved understanding of the existing flood early warning systems in Nepal, and suggests ways
to make early warning systems more effective and responsive to the needs of vulnerable groups, and women in
particular. The report suggests that, in view of the diversity of development issues and livelihood challenges that
communities face on a day-to-day basis, it is important to tune early warning systems according to the local context.
Early warning system infrastructure at the local level should be developed with the active involvement of local men
and women as part of the development process. Early warning systems should be seen as a social and development
activity rather than an exclusive domain of engineers and technicians. This simplification and democratization of early
warning systems requires bridging the gap between technical departments and communities, building local capacity,
recognizing the stake of the local community in contributing to and benefiting from early warning systems processes,
and most importantly creating multiple uses of early warning systems technology and not just for a ‘one time
disaster’. The early warning systems should be used with advanced applications to disseminate key messages that
will also be useful for local livelihood needs, such as daily weather trends to support crop related decisions, market
related decisions, and storage and transport related decisions. Further, it is important to recognize that women play
an active role in family livelihood security and efforts must be made to involve women and men equally in creating
and receiving early warnings and alerts. Women should be involved in local early warning system infrastructure
management teams and be provided with mobile phones or portable radios to receive early warning messages.
This report presents the methodology and findings of the study, possibly the first of its kind in the region. The primary
users of this report will be key national stakeholders, policy makers, planners, and community members who are at
risk from flood hazards in Nepal. The report contributes to the Hyogo Framework for Action, which was endorsed
by 168 national governments at the 2005 World Conference on Disaster Reduction. The Framework states strongly
that the “gender perspective should be integrated into all disaster risk management policies, plans, and decision-
making processes, including those related to risk assessment, early warning, information management, and
education and training”.
Background and Rationale
Nepal is a predominantly mountainous country with a total area of 147,181 km2 covering five physiographic regions:
the Terai, Siwaliks, Middle Mountains, High Mountains, and Himal. The elevation varies from 60 masl in the south
to 8,848 masl in the north within a short horizontal distance of less than 200 km. Due to the fragile geology, rugged
terrain, and monsoon precipitation, Nepal is prone to floods, landslides, and glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs).
Around 80% of the annual rainfall falls during the monsoon season, between June and September. The frequency and
magnitude of extreme events, as well as Nepal’s already pronounced seasonal variability, are expected to increase
under climate change (IPCC 2012). Nepal ranks 12th in the world in terms of the proportion of the population
exposed to the threat of floods annually (24%) (UNDP 2004). Poor people, especially women, the elderly, and
children, living in rural areas and on the floodplains are particularly vulnerable to flood hazards. On average, floods
and landslides cause around 300 deaths per year, with economic damage exceeding USD 10 million (Khanal et al.
2007). Between 1983 and 2010, floods and landslides killed 7,809 people, accounting for more than 35% of deaths
from all natural disasters in the country (DWIDP 2010). This loss of lives and property could have been reduced with
an effective flood early warning system.
The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), endorsed by 168 national governments at the 2005 World Conference on
Disaster Reduction, recognizes early warning systems as an important element in disaster risk reduction, and hence
to the achievement of sustainable development and sustainable livelihoods. The HFA further states strongly that the
“gender perspective should be integrated into all disaster risk management policies, plans, and decision-making
processes, including those related to risk assessment, early warning, information management, and education
and training” (UNISDR 2005). The framework also stresses the importance of early warning, and encourages the
development of early warning systems that are people-centred, whose warnings are timely and understandable to
those at risk, and that include guidance on how to act upon warnings.
Records of natural disasters in the Himalayan region over the last few decades show that women are more at risk
of dying than men (Mehta 2007). Studies indicate that more women than men die when disasters hit, and that
this is the result of women’s lack of information, mobility, decision-making power, and access to resources and
training, as well as gender-based social/cultural norms and barriers, conventional gender responsibilities, and high
rates of male outmigration (Nellemann et al. 2011; Mehta 2007; Ariabandhu 2009). During the 1991 cyclone in
Bangladesh, the mortality rate for women was three times higher than that for men (UNEP 1997; Twigg 2009). A
UNEP report (UNEP 1997) indicated that the main reason for the high mortality rate of women was that the early
warning signals had not reached them.
Men and women both have valuable, but different, knowledge, skills, experience, and coping capacities. However,
the strengths and capabilities of women are often ignored in policy decisions and in formal arrangements related
to mitigation and recovery. Policy makers and planners generally give little attention to the social barriers and
constraints that hinder women’s participation in capacity building and their access to information that could help
achieve better preparedness.
Gender differences are manifested in the disproportionately poorer health and nutritional status, lower levels of
access to formal literacy and education, higher levels of economic poverty, higher morbidity/mortality rates, and
high workloads of women compared to men, as well as extremely low rates of property ownership, participation
in decisionmaking, and representation in governance institutions (Leduc 2011). The UN defines the status of
women in the context of their access to knowledge, economic resources, and political power as well as their
personal autonomy in the process of decision-making (UN 1996). Analysis of the status of Nepalese women in
this context shows that the country still lags behind in the move towards equality. Nepal ranks fourth in the region
and 102nd out of 186 countries in the world in its gender inequality index (UNDP 2013). The maternal mortality
rate (deaths per 100,000 live births) is 170. Only 18% of women aged 25 and older have secondary education,
the second lowest percentage in South Asia after Afghanistan, whereas the value for men is 40% (UNDP 2013).
The low literacy rate and lack of awareness and opportunities make women highly vulnerable to natural disasters.
Furthermore, inequalities that already exist in society are often strengthened at times of disaster.
In order to increase the effectiveness of early warning systems, it is essential to ensure that they benefit women and
men equally, and for this it is essential to integrate the gender perspective. The different threats and concerns that
impact men and women as a result of any natural hazards must be taken into account, and both men and women
must participate in design, development, and implementation. The integration of a gender perspective into early
warning systems improves their effectiveness by ensuring that more specific information is gathered and enabling
more detailed analysis, which in turn can ensure more accurate and measurable responses (OSCE 2009).
A common criticism of most early warning systems is that they fail to reach the end users due to bureaucratic
protocols, and as a result don’t serve the purpose of early response and evacuation. Recently, there has been an
increasing emphasis on involving and empowering the end users – the affected communities – in the entire loop
of early warning transmission from collection to dissemination to reception. Further, for an early warning to serve
its full potential, women, not only men, need to be empowered in using early warning technology, managing early
warning mechanisms, and receiving early warning messages. In other words, making an early warning system
gender inclusive is crucial to its success in saving lives.
The HKH-HYCOS Project
The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), the World Meteorological Centre
(WMO), and ICIMOD’s regional partner countries developed the HKH-HYCOS (Hindu Kush Himalayan-
Hydrological Cycle Observing System) project to support disaster prevention and flood management at the regional
level by enhancing regional cooperation and technical capacity for collection, transmission, and sharing of
hydrometeorological data. The overall objective of the five-year project (2010–2014) is to contribute to minimizing
the loss of human lives and property damage through the timely exchange of flood data and information between
and among partner countries. The project seeks to achieve this through an established and agreed platform
which is accessible and user friendly. It also seeks to build the technical capacity of the national hydrological and
meteorological services of partner countries, which are the mandated organizations to collect, transmit, assess, and
disseminate flood early warnings to various stakeholders.
The project has established a regional flood information system (RFIS) to facilitate the transboundary exchange of
real-time and near-real-time data, best practices, and know-how in support of flood management. The project has
upgraded 32 hydrometeorological stations in four countries to transmit real-time data on river level and rainfall and
other related data using advanced technologies for data collection and transmission.
The project recognized the importance of assessing existing flood early warning systems from a gender perspective
as a basis for the development of an effective flood early warning system with flood information made available to
vulnerable communities. Such assessments have been conducted in four countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal,
and Pakistan. This report presents the findings of the study in Nepal.
To gain knowledge about the status and effectiveness of existing early warning systems (policies and institutions)
for flood risk management in Nepal
To analyse the strengths, gaps, and needs of the various institutions involved in flood early warning systems in
Nepal in terms of their technical capacity to carry out functions related to early warning systems, commitment
towards the system, networking and coordination among different institutions involved in the system, and
responsiveness towards gender and social inclusion
To look further into the opportunities and challenges for gender integration in the present systems
To recommend ways to make the present warning systems more effective and people-centred, as well as more
responsive to gender concerns
Organization of the Report
The report is divided into six chapters. This first chapter introduces the background and rationale of the study and
outlines the objectives. Chapter Two presents the key research questions and methodologies used to gather data
and analyse the information related to existing flood early warning systems for flood risk management in Nepal.
Chapter Three provides a review of relevant literature and outlines a conceptual framework related to three key
aspects of the study – early warning systems, gender considerations in early warning systems, and flood early
warning systems in Nepal.
Chapter Four presents the findings of the study and provides information related to the characteristics and key roles
of the respondents, existing status of early warning systems, and gender sensitivity of the programmes carried out
by various government, non-governmental, and humanitarian organizations in the country, including the UN and
Red Cross, at the time of the study in 2012. Chapter Five presents the key gaps, challenges, and opportunities for
ensuring gender sensitive early warning systems in Nepal. Finally, Chapter Six summarizes the key conclusions of
the study and makes some recommendations to strengthen flood early warning systems in Nepal based on the gaps
and opportunities identified.
Men participate in a focus group discussion in Banke District. During the ﬁeld visit for this study, an attempt was
made to have a focus group discussion involving both men and women. Because of existing culturally-deﬁned
gender roles and expectations, women were reluctant to sit together with men and were interviewed separately.
Research Questions and
The study sought to map the key stakeholders engaged in disaster risk management and flood early warning
systems at the national and district levels and develop an understanding of the functioning of flood early warning
systems at the community level from a gender perspective.
The overall methodological framework for the study is presented in Figure 1. The framework comprised the overall
research design, literature review, field study, and data analysis. Data were collected from both primary and
secondary sources. The elements of the framework are described briefly below.
The research design included both qualitative and quantitative methods, together with a disaster risk reduction
framework and case studies. It included the criteria for site selection for the case studies, and guiding questions and
checklists for group discussions and interviews. The assessment focused on the following questions.
What are the status and effectiveness of existing early warning systems (policies, other instruments, and
institutions) for flood risk reduction?
What are the strengths, gaps, and needs of the various institutions (governmental and non-governmental) at
national, regional, and local levels that are involved in the present early warning systems, in terms of their
human resources, technical capacity to carry out relevant functions and commitments towards the system,
networking and coordination with other institutions involved in the system, and responsiveness to gender and
How can gender be integrated in to existing flood early warning systems?
Figure 1: Methodological framework used in the study
•Journal articles and
•Interviews with key
of FEWS from a
•Project cycle analysis
•Analysis of the four
key elements of EWS
•Legal and Policy
case study site
and ﬁeld study
A literature review was conducted on early warning systems. National and international research publications, policy
documents, case study reports, post-disaster reports, articles, databases, fact sheets, and electronic sources were
reviewed. The desk review helped the project develop state-of-the-art knowledge on flood early warning systems
from a gender perspective, and understand the level and challenges of gender integration.
The stakeholder consultation was carried out in 2012 and comprised both qualitative and quantitative methods.
The qualitative information was supported by quantitative data wherever possible. Information was collected at
national, district, and community levels through in-depth individual interviews with key informants, meetings,
informal discussions, telephone conversations, and email communications. Both women and men, and people from
different organizations and communities, were represented. The number and range of stakeholders consulted during
the study are shown in Table 1. A total of 26 key informants interviews were conducted with gender focal persons
from relevant organizations in the government sector, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), UN
and humanitarian organizations, and national NGOs. A list of the organizations consulted is given in Annex 1.
At the local level,
were conducted with
both village leaders
and ordinary men and
women, by a team
of consultants. Focus
group discussions and
field observations were
carried out in two districts
that had early warning
systems in place.
A checklist of indicators was developed based on global gender and disaster risk reduction frameworks and used
to collect and analyse information on gender-sensitivity in the early warning systems. Only a few indicators were
actually used in the data collection because of the lack of gender sensitive activities in the early warning systems.
The checklist and questionnaire used in the interviews and case studies are given in Annex 2.
Frameworks for Analysis
Data analysis was an important part of the methodological framework for the study. There are a number of gender
analysis frameworks available in the literature, for example the Harvard Analytical Framework (Overholt et al.
1985), Moser Gender Planning Framework (Moser 1993), Gender Analysis Matrix (GAM) Framework (Rani 1993),
and Women’s Empowerment Framework (Longwe 1995). Two frameworks were used to analyse the data collected
from the various sources in the study: the project cycle framework (Overholt et al. 1985) and gender analysis of the
four pillars of people-centred early warning systems.
Project cycle analysis
The project cycle analysis (PCA) framework (Overholt et al. 1985) is part of the Harvard Analytical Framework; it
divides the project cycle into four steps: (i) identification, (ii) design, (iii) implementation, and (iv) evaluation. The
framework helps to analyse the differences between men and women in participation, roles and responsibilities,
and decision-making power at different stages of a project cycle, and to assess changes resulting from the project
intervention (Figure 2).
Table 1: Stakeholders consulted
Stakeholder type Men Women Total % of women
Central government organizations 11 2 13 15
Local authorities (DDCs, VDCs, municipalities) 2 0 2 0
International NGOs 5 0 5 0
UN and humanitarian organizations 2 1 3 33
NGOs 4 2 6 33
Community representatives 19 7 26 27
Others (e.g., academics and individual experts) 4 2 6 33
Total 47 14 61 23
(Needs assessment, project’s
objectives, and women’s
(Number of women, budget for
women’s activities, ﬂexibility in
(Impacts on decision making,
participation, and beneﬁt sharing)
(Project’s priorities, beneﬁts,
and impacts, and women’s
access and control)
Figure 2: Project cycle analysis framework
Analysis of four key elements of people-centred early warning systems
A complete and effective early warning system should comprise the four interrelated elements of risk knowledge,
monitoring and warning service, dissemination and communication, and response capability (Figure 3). A weakness
or failure in any one part could result in failure of the whole system (UNISDR 2005).
Gender analysis was conducted for each of the four pillars in each early warning system. The analysis included an
assessment of the differences in roles and responsibilities, participation, and decision making in every element of
the system. It included differences between men and women in understanding hazards, monitoring and forecasting
impending events, processing and disseminating understandable warnings, and taking appropriate and timely
action in response to the warnings. Key points for each of the four elements of early warning systems were prepared
to guide the analysis, for example, are vulnerabilities and risks known to both women and men, do warnings reach
both women and men?
Figure 3: Four elements of an early warning system
Systematically collect data and
undertake risk assessments
Are the hazards and the
vulnerabilities well known?
What are the patterns and
trends in these factors?
Are risk maps and data
DISSEMINATION AND COMMUNICATIONS
Communicate risk information and early warnings
Do warnings reach all of
those at risk?
Are the risks and the
Is the warning information
clear and useable?
Build national and community response capabilities
Are response plans up
to date and tested?
Are local capacities and knowledge
made use of?
Are people prepared and ready to
react to warnings
MONITORING AND WARNING SERVICE
Develop hazard monitoring and
early warning services
Are the right parameters
Is there a sound scientiﬁc basis for
Can accurate and timely warnings
Source: UNISDR (2005)
Opposite page: Volunteers conduct a door-to-door
early warning orientation in Bardiya, Nepal
Early Warning Systems –
A Review of
Why Early Warning Systems?
The occurrence and impact of disasters is increasing, a result both of the increase in the size and vulnerability of
exposed populations as well as an increase in the frequency and severity of hydro-meteorological hazards (WMO
2014). Economic losses from disasters greatly set back hard-won development gains, particularly in low income
countries like Nepal. Globally, the establishment of early warning and associated preparedness and response
systems has helped to reduce the number of deaths from disasters over the last decade. Early warning systems
promote the development and application of scientific knowledge, including improved information dissemination.
The goal of an early warning system is to protect lives and property. Early warning is thus one of the key elements
in any disaster reduction strategy. The International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) defines early warning as
“the provision of timely and effective information, through identified institutions, that allows individuals exposed
to a hazard to take action to avoid or reduce their risk and prepare for effective response” (UN 2006).Early
warning systems can provide the necessary information and strategies to a wide array of actors to enable them to
be proactive and better prepared for impending disasters. An effective system enables the concerned authorities
and at-risk communities to know about the hazards at the locality, community vulnerabilities, and impending risk,
to receive warning messages, and to mobilize their response capabilities to reduce risks. Early warning helps to
reduce economic losses by allowing people to better protect their assets and livelihoods. For example, they can
safeguard homes, sell livestock, or find the safest locations for shelter in times of flood or other disaster events, thus
limiting not only the immediate impact of disaster but also effects on assets that can reduce economic wellbeing
and increase poverty. Thus, effective early warning systems not only save lives but also help protect livelihoods and
national development gains (UN 2006).
The need for a people-centric approach
Early warning systems have been developed for a number of applications, for example in conflict management,
disaster preparedness, and health. The impacts of the Indian Ocean tsunami, hurricane Katrina in the USA,
and floods in Pakistan and in Uttarakhand, India, all indicate deficiencies in existing early warning systems. All
early warning systems need to be people the centric if they are to be effective. A global survey of early warning
systems conducted by the UN indicated that in both developed and developing nations, the weakest elements are
dissemination of warnings and preparedness to act (UN 2006). Often warnings fail to reach those who must take
action, and when they are received they may not be understood by them or address their concerns. Root causes
appear to be inadequate political commitment, weak coordination among the various actors, and lack of public
awareness and public participation in the development and operation of the systems.
Early warning systems must be comprehensible and accessible to all users. They must deliver clear and concise
messages tailored to the respective social and cultural contexts that reach the last mile of connectivity and support
and empower people in protecting themselves. For this, an integrated approach is necessary that is based on the
needs, priorities, capacities, and cultures of those at risk (OSCE 2009). Such an approach stresses the need for
people at risk to be partners in the system and not controlled by it.
In Nepal, delivery of vital information to the public at risk has not always been successful. In many cases, local
mechanisms for communicating risk and interpreting warnings remain weak (Lamichane 2011).
Flood early warning systems
Flood early warning systems include a chain of activities: understanding and mapping flood vulnerability,
monitoring rainfall and water levels, forecasting impending events, processing, and disseminating and
communicating understandable warnings to decision makers and the population so that they can take appropriate
and timely actions in response (UNISDR 2007). Advances in science and technology during the last decade have
improved the ability of flood early warning systems to reduce human loss. Considerable progress has been made
in developing the knowledge and technical tools required to assess risks and to generate and communicate
predictions and warnings, particularly as a result of growing scientific understanding and the use of modern
information and communication technologies (UN 2006). Figure 4 shows a schematic framework for a flood early
warning system in terms of the four main pillars.
Why Include Gender Considerations in Early Warning Systems?
In the development context, ‘gender’ refers to the social attributes, opportunities, and relations associated with
being a man or a woman in any given cultural or social group. It refers to socially constructed roles, responsibilities,
and opportunities associated with men and women, as well as hidden power structures that govern the relationships
between them (UNDP 2010).Gender determines what is expected, permitted, and valued in a woman or a man in a
specific context (ECOSOC 1997). Gender relations are not fixed, but can and do change over time.
Gender equality means that both genders have equal conditions for realizing their human rights and potential;
engaging in political, economic, social, and cultural development; and benefiting from the outcomes (UNDP
2010). An approach that takes gender into account recognizes that men and women have different priorities and
needs and face different constraints, and thus different measures might be needed for women and men. Applying
additional supportive measures to ‘level out the playing field’ is known as gender equity.
Women and men are affected differently by natural disasters (see box) and have different needs in terms of early
warning systems. Messages reach them in different ways, they may understand the implications differently, and they
have different responsibilities and possibilities for response. Differences in daily activities also impact on access to
communication and opportunities for participation in disaster reduction activities. For example, in a field survey
conducted by Rana (2011) on community-based flood warning systems in Nepal, the daily activity calendar of men
and women showed that women mostly had roles related to taking care of children and the elderly, cooking, and
performing household chores, while men were working in the fields and socializing in the community. These socially
and culturally constructed roles and responsibilities increase women’s vulnerability during and after floods. To be
fully effective, early warning systems must recognize and address these differences. Until now, however, discussions
Figure 4: Components of a ﬂood early warning system
Hazard Rainfall Radio Evacuation centre
Search and rescue
Elements at risk River level
Vulnerability Warning decision
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Women are affected by natural
disasters differently than men
Several studies have shown that disaster mortality
rates are higher for women than for men, and that
this is caused by differences in the vulnerability
of women and men that are the result of socially
constructed gender roles. Following the 2004
Asian tsunami, Oxfam found that in many villages
in Aceh, Indonesia, and in parts of India, women
and girls accounted for over 70% of the dead. In
the 1991 cyclone disaster in Bangladesh, 90% of
the 140,000 victims were women and girls (Ikeda
1995). A study of 141 countries found that more
women than men are killed during disasters and at
an earlier age, particularly in poor communities,
because of the discrimination they suffer due to their
gender (Neumayer and Pluemper 2007). All these
cases indicate that women are affected differently
to men and also more severely. Women are more
vulnerable to disasters due to social and cultural
norms and barriers, which suggests we need different
approaches and strategies for women and men when
dealing with ﬂood risk management and reduction.
of gender in early warning systems appear to be limited. Since the 1980s, a considerable amount of work has been
carried out on conflict early warning, but little attention has been paid to the differences between men’s and women’s
situations, needs, perception of threats, vulnerabilities, or experience in the development and implementation of
early warning systems for conflict prevention (OSCE 2009). Experience with conflict early warning over the past few
decades has shown that the systems developed have also overlooked the contribution of women in information and
response (UNWomen 2012). With advances in technology, new ICT tools have been introduced for early warning
dissemination to support early action and timely response, but these have also overlooked the gender perspective.
A guide for gender responsive conflict early warning developed by UN Women (UNWomen 2012) indicates that
despite the existence of a number of initiatives and programmes on gender integration over the past few decades,
the lack of attention to gender issues and the low participation of women in early warning initiatives have not been
overcome. This lack of recognition of gender differences is equally true for natural disaster prevention.
Gender inequalities in access to and control of early warning systems draws its legacy from human society’s
stereotypical view of technology as being male-centric, which is reflected in many spheres of life. For example, in
agriculture, it is typically men who master and control technical instruments. According to Kramarae (1988), women’s
use of and association with technology reflects their major occupations in life, for example, telephones are used
by women operators and receptionists, whereas men repair them. As noted by Turkle (1984), in the earlier stages,
computers were seen as a scientific and masculine activity due to the prevalent association of men with science. Today,
computers have been erasing gender barriers. Similarly, several research studies have shown that access to mobile
phones has empowered and strengthened women’s social circles and support networks. For example, Handapangoda
and Kumara (2013) found that mobile phones helped reduce women’s information poverty in Sri Lanka; and opened
them up to a newer, non-traditional fun space, which was a clear manifestation of choice and power.
An effective early warning system must have last mile connectivity. According to the world disaster report of 2009
(IFRC 2009), reaching the last mile is defined as reaching the most vulnerable group, especially those who are
marginalized and not part of the development process, often women, children, and the elderly. The report states
that women do not have as much access to information as men, and often information is passed on through
men. Using an example from Bangladesh, the report indicates the importance of including the gender perspective
in disaster preparedness and highlights the need for gender
sensitivity in early warning and early action.
Gender analysis helps in identifying differences between men
and women in terms of activities, conditions, needs, control
over resources, and access to development benefits and
decisionmaking. Three elements need to be examined: division
of labour, access to and control over resources, and gender
needs (practical and strategic).
Gender mainstreaming is achieved when women’s and men’s
experiences are integrated into the design, implementation,
monitoring, and evaluation of policies and programmes in all
political, economic, and cultural spheres, ensuring that men and
women benefit equally (ECOSOC 1997). Women’s physical size,
strength, and endurance in relation to men; states of pregnancy
and lactation; primary responsibility for infants, small children,
and the elderly; and often clothing may all serve to slow them
at the very moment when time is crucial to survival during a
disaster. There are differences between women and men in
knowledge, skills, roles, responsibilities, access to information,
preferred medium for communication, and opportunities for
learning, while social constraints and cultural practices also
impact women and men differently. All these differences need
to be considered in the design and implementation of an early
warning system (Shrestha et al. 2008). Integrating a gender
perspective can improve the effectiveness of early warning
systems as it enables more specific and differentiated information
to be gathered, and more precise and detailed analyses to
be made, which leads to better preparedness and preventive
mechanisms, and more accurate and measurable responses,
thus reducing loss.
Schmeidl and Piza-Lopez (2002) offered three hypotheses related
to gender and early warning in conflict situations, which are also
relevant to early warning for disaster prevention:
1) incorporating gender-sensitive indicators into collection and
analysis processes for early warning makes existing models
more comprehensive and allows for ‘early’ early warning by
anticipating macro-level conflict through micro-level events;
2) incorporating micro-level changes and interactions between
men and women helps fine-tune the formulation of
political and humanitarian response in order to address the
specific vulnerabilities of men and women and ensure that
discriminatory policies are not perpetuated in post-conflict
3) early warning and preventive activities can be made more
effective by utilizing the untapped potential of women, women’s
networks, and women’s organizations as actors for peace.
Flood Early Warning Systems in Nepal
At the national level, the Department of Hydrology and
Meteorology (DHM), under the Ministry of Science Technology
and Environment (MoSTE), is mandated to monitor all
hydrological and meteorological activities in Nepal. DHM
collects hydrological, meteorological, and climate information
and disseminates it to a variety of stakeholders for water resources, agriculture, energy, and other development
activities (www.dhm.gov.np). DHM has 286 meteorological stations nationwide. The stations are regularly
monitored and the information is collected centrally at the DHM office. In addition there are 170 hydrological
stations, including 20 with sedimentation monitoring. Most of the hydrometeorological stations are manually
operated, while some have been upgraded to automatic stations, able to continuously monitor flood parameters
such as rainfall and water level around the clock and to transmit the data in real time.
A number of flood early warning systems have also been put in place to forewarn communities of impending flood
disasters; some of these are described below.
Glacial lake outburst ﬂood early warning system for Tsho Rolpa
In the 1990s, DHM set up a glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) early warning system downstream from Tsho Rolpa
glacial lake in the Tama Koshi basin in eastern Nepal. This was one of the first GLOF early warning systems in
South Asia. The system consisted of a set of sensors and automatic sirens at 19 locations downstream. The sensor
was set to trigger an alert to warn communities downstream along the Rolwaling and Tama Koshi rivers when a
certain level was reached in the lake. The communication of the warning from the sensing system to the villages was
based on extended line of sight (ELOS) using very high frequency radio together with meteor burst communications
technology (Shrestha et al. 2008). The system worked for a few years, but inadequate operation and maintenance,
vandalism, and others led to the system becoming defunct (Ives et al. 2010).
Disaster preparedness and early
warning systems for ﬂoods, landslides,
and earthquakes: The case of Tajikistan
In Tajikistan, Oxfam runs a disaster preparedness
programme in an area vulnerable to ﬂoods,
landslides, and earthquakes. In the rural areas
where Oxfam works, cultural norms dictate that
women’s access to education and paid work is low,
and their community participation and mobility are
very limited. Many households are run by women
and are often very vulnerable, given the signiﬁcant
male out-migration to Russia. A core element of this
programme is encouraging women to be actively
involved in preparing the community for future
hazards, and in planning rescue responses. Female
trainers and community mobilizers run women-only
groups to build women’s conﬁdence, encourage
them to voice their concerns, and deliver training
in speciﬁc skills such as ﬁrst aid and disaster
management. These women then go on to train
other women in their homes. The impact of this
disaster preparedness work is signiﬁcant. In a recent
landslide where 35 households were at risk of being
buried, a female community mobilizer had prepared
the community so well that the risk of imminent
landslide was noticed, a warning given out, and the
area evacuated, with the result that no lives were
lost. Forty years earlier, 134 people had died from
a similar landslide in the village.
Source: Oxfam (2009)
Flood early warning system on the Bhote Koshi
An early warning system has been set up on the Bhote Koshi River by the Bhote Koshi Power Company (BKPC).
There are a number of potentially dangerous glacial lakes upstream of the power project, some of which have burst
in the past; in the Sun Koshi disaster of 1981, a glacial lake outburst flood from a lake in China washed away
several bridges along the Arniko Highway, including the China-Nepal Friendship Bridge at the Kodari border (Mool
et al. 2001). The early warning system consists of two sensor stations at the Friendship Bridge which transmit a
warning in the event of a GLOF to sirens located downstream at the headwork and at Hindi village, and a warning-
cum monitoring station at the powerhouse. A spillway can be opened so that flow is no longer diverted for power
production and the powerhouse is shut down (www.bhotekoshi.com.np/socialdetail.php?id=33). The BKPC carried
out community awareness raising activities to inform and prepare the local people, and installed warning signs at
four different river crossings selected in consultation with the community. In the event of a GLOF or sudden spillway
release, people are advised to move to a place at least 20 m above the normal riverbed level. However, the present
dam is located only 6 km downstream from the Friendship Bridge and if a GLOF does occur, the warning system
provides only five minutes lead time to make the preparations.
Web-based telemetry ﬂood early warning system at DHM
DHM has made concerted efforts to develop a web-based telemetry system in various rivers to provide real-time
data and information on water levels and provide flood warnings to the various stakeholders. It has upgraded 11
hydrometeorological stations in the Koshi Basin (Figure 5) as part of the HKH-HYCOS initiative to improve flood
forecasting and provide early warnings in real time. These hydrometeorological stations transmit real time data to
the national and regional information system to enable timely warning. The water levels in the rivers are monitored
using automatic sensors based on pressure and radar technologies and data is transmitted via the Internet using
a combination of Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM)
technology. The Iridium satellite is included as a backup to transmit data when all other communication systems
Hydrological monitoring station installed in Barabhise, Nepal
fail. Danger and alert levels have been established at each of the hydrological stations to trigger a warning based
on a rise in water level. DHM has now installed more than 40 automatic stations throughout the country which are
providing real-time data through this web-based telemetry system (www.dhm.gov.np). However, there is no system
for authoritative issuing of flood early warnings to those at risk.
Community-based ﬂood early warning systems
Since 2002, Practical Action has been working on flood early warning systems for communities in Nepal. In the
initial period, observation towers were set up with a siren system to watch and warn communities of impending
flood disasters (Practical Action 2009). This introduced the concept of early warning systems, but the technology
has now been improved. In the western region of Nepal, Practical Action and DHM have piloted a community-
based flood early warning system in the West Rapti basin. Real-time information on water levels at the upstream
gauging station operated by DHM is provided to communities to warn them of impending floods (Practical Action
and Mercy Corps 2012). The high water level that occurred in the West Rapti basin in 2012 was successfully
communicated to the communities and timely action was taken (Gautam and Phaiju 2013).
Practical Action has also established a community-based flood early warning system in Banke and Bardiya districts
in collaboration with DHM and local NGOs. The institutionalized system includes local governmental and non-
governmental organizations in the network for early warning. Key contact details for various levels of informants
have been prepared and communication channels developed for dissemination of warnings during floods.
Communities are considered to be an integral part of the system and participate in risk assessment, communication
and dissemination, and immediate response activities. A similar system has been installed by Mercy Corps in Kailali
and Kanchanpur districts. Experience from the floods in September 2012, when heavy rainfall occurred over the
Far Western and Western regions, further demonstrated the usefulness of such systems in saving lives by providing
timely warnings to the communities. Efforts are being made to replicate this system in other river basins.
Figure 5: Real-time hydrometeorological stations in the Koshi basin
In February 2011, the Government of Nepal launched the Nepal Risk Reduction Consortium (NRRC), which
identified five flagship priorities for disaster risk reduction. Flagship 4 of the NRRC focuses on community-based
disaster risk reduction as a priority, and has created a consensus with stakeholders on the minimum characteristics
of a disaster resilient community. The characteristics include an inclusive community-based early warning system at
village development committee (VDC)/ward, district, regional, and national levels (Figure 6) .
Nepal’s Strategic Program for Climate Resilience (SPCR) includes a project – on building resilience to climate –
related hazards [led by the World Bank]. The objective of the pilot project for climate resilience (PPCR) is to enhance
government capacity to mitigate climate-related hazards by improving the accuracy and timeliness of weather and
flood forecasts and warnings for climate-vulnerable communities. This programme seeks to establish a multi-hazard
information and early warning system, modernize the existing hydrometeorological network, and put in place an
agricultural information management system.
Early warning in action: Case study in Nepal
On 3 August 2012 in Banke District communities used the
early warning system to prevent a major disaster. Incessant
monsoon rain had raised water in the West Rapti river to a
critical level, 7.24 m, and a ﬂood was imminent.
Fortunately for downstream communities, the early warning
was activated as planned at the ﬁrst warning level. An
electronic display board at the District Administration Ofﬁce
(DAO) sounded a siren when water reached the critical
level. Mr Dhundi Raj Pokharel, the Chief District Ofﬁcer, then
advised security forces to disseminate information to police
posts in the vulnerable communities. Local task forces then
sprang into action in communities in the ﬁve affected VDCs
and the communities took avoidance action. Mr Pokharel
considered that the early warning system had been a great
achievement. He said “I am happy that despite the huge
ﬂood, there were no human casualties”.
Lives were saved in the downstream communities in Nepal
and India because of timely information. This highlights the
importance of preparing communities to face natural disasters.
The community-based disaster risk reduction projects in Nepal
are ensuring that communities can protect themselves and their
livelihoods from the impact of natural disasters.
Communities use an observation tower equipped with sirens to
watch for impending ﬂood events and warn others
Nawalparasi Kaski Chitwan
Udayapur Saptari Sunsari
Figure 6: Districts with community-based ﬂood early warning systems
Source: ICIMOD, data from Practical Action
Installation of automatic weather station
The Study Findings
Analysis of Institutions Involved in Disaster Risk Reduction from a Gender
Early warning systems require contributions from a wide range of actors and institutions, including local
communities, national governments, regional organizations, NGOs, the private sector, and the science community
(UN 2006; IPCC 2012). A total of 26 institutions involved in different aspects of disaster risk reduction in Nepal
were consulted about the status and effectiveness of existing early warning systems (policies and institutions),
especially those for flood risk management (Annex 3). The broad roles of these key stakeholders were analysed
from a gender perspective based on key informant interviews in the respective organizations, focus group
discussions, and secondary information.
The organizations consulted were from four
broad categories: (i) government organizations;
ii) international NGOs; iii) UN and humanitarian
organizations; and iv) national NGOs (Table 2).
There is an ongoing effort through the NRRC flagship
priorities to review efforts in disaster risk reduction in
Nepal, identify institutional strengths, and propose
institutional arrangements for effective implementation.
But at present, there is no comprehensive or systematic
documentation specifically for flood early warning
systems at the different levels (community, district, and
national) that describes institutional roles, structures,
systems, and practices, or overall architecture.
Women’s representation in the institutions
The level of women’s representation in terms of staff
numbers within the institutions is shown in Table 3.
Women were inadequately represented in all the
institutions, comprising less than 20% of staff on
average, and only 15% in the government agencies.
Representation at different levels of authority was not
analysed, but the general impression was that the
proportion of women at higher levels of authority was
lower than at lower levels. The low numbers of women staff may contribute to underrepresentation of the specific
needs of women in planning, designing, and implementing plans for disaster risk reduction and early warning systems.
Institutions and their roles
The findings indicated that multiple institutions are
involved in disaster risk reduction in Nepal but their
roles, inter-relationships, coordination mechanisms,
and accountability arrangements are not very clear or
explicit. Figure 7 shows the overall distribution of roles
and responsibilities of the 26 institutions consulted
in various aspects of disaster risk reduction activities,
while Figure 8 provides details for the different
Table 2: Number and type of organizations consulted
Type Number % of total
Government agencies 13 50
INGOs 5 19
UN and humanitarian organizations 2 8
National NGOs 6 23
Total 26 100
Table 3: Number of women staff in the organizations
Organizations Total number
Government 1,348 200 15
Non-government, UN, and
692 179 26
Total 2,040 379 19
Figure 7: Organizations consulted and their roles in disaster
risk reduction (n=26, most organizations have multiple roles)
19 21 16 17
Policy and strategy Coordination Technical support Research Implementation
Figure 8: Roles and functions of different organizations in disaster risk management in Nepal
Policy Coordination Research Implementation
Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Information
Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development
Ministry of Home Affairs
Ministry of Irrigation
Ministry of Health and Population
Ministry of Education
National Planning Commission
Department of Hydrology and Meteorology
Department of Soil Conservation and Watershed Management
Department of Water-Induced Disaster Preparedness
Plan International (Nepal)
Save the Children
Practical Action (Nepal)
Nepal Red Cross Society
Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation
Ministry of Women and Children
Centre for Disaster Management Studies
Centre of Resilient
Agro-Farm Foresters’ Association, Nepal
National Disaster Risk Management Forum
Society of Hydrologists, Nepal
Most of the activities in disaster risk management are being undertaken by multiple organizations with overlapping
roles and responsibilities (Figure 8); 19 of the 26 organizations were involved in coordination; 21 in providing
technical support, and 17 in implementation, while only eight were involved in formulating policy and strategy
frameworks. The policy and strategy related activities are mainly carried out by central level government
organizations, and implementation by local NGOs and community-based organizations, supported by INGOs and
Institutions involved with
early warning systems
Of the 26 organizations
interviewed, only four (15%)
had ongoing projects or regular
activities on early warning
systems for flood hazard, while
the remainder either had (or
had previously had) projects or
activities on other early warning
systems or on flood hazard or risk
mitigation in general (Table 4).
Integration of Gender Considerations in Projects and Activities
Two frameworks were used to analyse the level to which gender considerations were included in the different
activities related to early warning systems and flood risk management: the project cycle framework and the four
pillars of people-centred early warning systems.
Project cycle analysis
The engagement of women in the 26 institutions was mapped in terms of the four phases of the project cycle
analysis framework: identification; design; implementation; and evaluation. The results are shown in Figure 9. Very
few organizations had ensured women’s participation in all four phases of the project cycle; 23% had involved
women in project identification, 19% in design, 31% in implementation, and only 15% in project monitoring
and evaluation. The low involvement in monitoring and evaluation indicates that women have a weaker role in
decision making, whereas the higher involvement in implementation may reflect more involvement in routine
tasks. The actual roles and quality of women’s participation in the different phases requires further research and
understanding. It is important to ensure that women’s participation is mandatory and equitable from the design
phase of a project onwards in order to ensure effective and sustainable outcomes from early warning systems
initiatives and disaster risk reduction programmes.
Four pillars analysis
Gender ‘neutral’ actions in the disaster risk
management cycle are generally not ‘neutral’,
rather, they force women into situations of distress,
humiliation, and increased risk of becoming victims
of violence, and perpetuate a system of reduced
access to the opportunities and options available
to their male counterparts (Ariabandhu 2009).
These problems can be mitigated to some extent by
involving women at all stages of the cycle, so that
any potentially negative impact’s of specific actions
(or lack of action) and decisions on women are more
Table 4: Organizations with early warning systems projects
Categories Number %
Organizations with projects or regular activities on early warning
systems for ﬂood hazards
Organizations with projects or regular activities on early warning
systems, but not for ﬂood hazards
Organizations with no projects or regular activities on early
warning systems, but some activities related to some aspects of
early warning systems or ﬂood hazard/risk mitigation
Organizations that had previously had projects or regular
activities on early warning systems or ﬂood hazard/risk
mitigation, but not at the time of the survey
Figure 9: Engagement of women in different phases
of project cycle management (n = 26)
Identiﬁcation Design Implementation Monitoring and
easily recognized and addressed, and women are better informed about activities. There are no specific policies
or guidelines for women’s participation in early warning systems projects or activities in Nepal, but government
agencies usually follow the National Planning Commission’s guidelines, which have a mandatory provision for
women’s participation in development initiatives (minimum 30%).
Assessment of the scenario of early warning systems from a gender perspective showed that gender integration
is at a very early stage. None of the organizations surveyed had a mandatory provision to achieve a gender
balance in early warning systems activities and no early warning systems project proposal had outcome indicators
disaggregated by gender. For almost all the organizations, gender in early warning systems activities was limited to
the formation of community organizations and capacity building and training. Only one organization had an explicit
gender policy specifically designed for early warning systems, while a few had some provisions or practices related
to gender in some early warning system elements. Most of the organizations were involved in multiple hazards and
were using a gender-neutral approach; all five of the organizations involved in all key components of flood early
warning systems included gender considerations in at least some elements.
Gender analysis was conducted for the 26 institutions in terms of the specific activities related to each of the four
key elements or pillars of an effective people-centred early warning system (Table 5).
There are provisions in policies, strategies, and guidelines to engage women’s organizations in the capacity building of
women, men, and the elderly. The Government of Nepal has also issued guidelines and mandatory directives on the
minimum number of women to be involved in users’ groups and community-level development activities. However, as
yet no appropriate tools or standards have been developed, no attempts have been made to design gender-sensitive
alerts and messages, and there has been no appropriate training on hazard vulnerability capacity assessment.
Overall, only a third of respondents said that they
had an institutionalized system for knowledge
management and documentation in the case of early
warning systems. None of the organizations performed
comprehensive hazard and vulnerability assessments
with sufficient emphasis on women’s traditional
knowledge and perceptions.
Gender-sensitive risk assessment: Disaster risk
assessment is the problem analysis phase in a disaster
risk reduction intervention and a part of the ‘risk
knowledge’ pillar in an early warning system. The
risk assessment process includes hazard assessment,
vulnerability analysis, and capacity assessment of the
local population. Active participation of women, men,
the elderly, and disadvantaged groups in general, is
necessary to ensure that the risk assessment is effective
and realistic. Experience from the Kailali disaster
risk reduction initiative implemented by Mercy Corps
and NRCS indicates that women and the socially
marginalized have the capacity to be key actors in
disaster risk reduction interventions, and women
groups were involved in vulnerability analysis and
preparation of hazard maps.
Table 6 summarizes the responses on the level
to which gender considerations were included in
risk assessments. The majority of responses to the
Members of the local community monitor rainfall in Malghat, Nepal
Table 6: Inclusion of gender considerations in disaster risk assessment
Question Response (n = 26)
Are the hazard, vulnerability, and risk maps gender disaggregated? 4 15
Do women participate in risk assessment? 5 19
Are the risk reduction strategies gender sensitive? 4 15
Has gender analysis been conducted? 3 12
Have women’s capacities, knowledge, and attitudes been incorporated and documented in the assessment? 3 12
Have women’s organizations been engaged in risk assessment? 3 12
Has an advocacy campaign been carried out for gender-sensitive risk assessment? 2 8
Table 5: Involvement of organizations in the key elements of people-centred early warning systems
Government agencies Risk
Department of Hydrology and Meteorology • •
Department of Soil Conservation and Watershed
• • •
Department of Water-Induced Disaster Prevention • • • •
Ministry of Defence • •
Ministry of Education •
Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MOFALD) • • •
Ministry of Health and Population •
Ministry of Home Affairs • • • •
Ministry of Irrigation • • •
Ministry of Information and Communication •
Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation •
Ministry of Women and Children •
National Planning Commission •
Mercy Corps • • • •
Oxfam GB • • • •
Plan International Nepal • • •
Practical Action Nepal • • • •
Save the Children • •
UN and humanitarian organizations
Nepal Red Cross Society • • • •
UNDP-CDRMP • • •
AFFAN • •
CDMS • •
DPNet • •
Total 18 (69%) 9 (35%) 17 (65%) 17 (65%)
questions were along the lines ‘we have not gone into that detail’. Due to the mandatory provisions and guidelines
of the National Planning Commission, all government agencies are trying to incorporate the concept of gender-
sensitive risk assessment and reduction and to engage women in all phases of the project cycle management.
Monitoring and warning services
It is important to engage men and women in regular monitoring of hazards in the locality to generate information for
warning purposes. Involvement of both women and men will help identify the information accurately, on time, and
earlier, and will help reduce the risks. Only nine organizations (35% of the total) were involved in monitoring and
warning services, and of these four had mobilized women’s groups and individuals to conduct hazard monitoring.
Dissemination and information
Women were not considered as recipients of disaster alerts when disaster messages were sent. Sending disaster
messages through radios and mobile phones does not ensure that the messages are received by women and
girls. Some organizations had formed women’s groups and mobilized women and girls in early warning systems.
However, neither the messages nor the dissemination mechanisms were gender sensitive.
Response capacity building
The majority of the organizations surveyed were involved in response capacity building. However, this was not
systematic and was generally not directly linked to early warning systems activities. Although women play an
important role in responding to disasters and are able to cope with, adapt, and withstand the impact of disasters,
they are usually not involved in the early warning system processes. Questions were asked about the involvement
of women in response capacity building as a part of the early warning systems and disaster risk reduction activities.
When women were involved in the hazard, vulnerability, and capacity assessment process, this also meant that they
played an active role in response capacity building at the community level. As male members of the family usually
go out for work, women were more readily available for risk assessment and other community development work.
The involvement of the organizations in the four pillars of early warning systems is summarized in Figure 10. Five
organizations were involved in all components of early warning systems for flood hazard, but only one integrated
gender considerations in them all, while the remainder included gender considerations in some components.
Legal and Policy Instruments
The Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal body in the field of disaster management in Nepal. There are provisions
for a Central Natural Disaster Relief Committee, Regional Natural Disaster Relief Committee, and District Natural
Disaster Relief Committee to coordinate disaster preparedness and response activities.
Nepal has been active in disaster risk reduction for more than three decades. These legal and institutional
provisions are flexible; all the activities required for gender-sensitive early warning systems can be done using these
instruments. The key legal and policy instruments related to disaster risk reduction and early warning systems in
Nepal are the
Natural Disaster (Relief) Act (1982),
Nepal Water Resources Act (1992),
Building Code (1994),
National Action Plan on Disaster Management (1996),
Local Self Governance Act (1998),
The Tenth-Plan (2002–2007),
Nepal Water Resources Strategy (2002),
Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF),
Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA 2005), and
National Strategy for Disaster Risk Management (2009).
The government included a ‘Disaster Management Programme’ for the first time in its 10th National Development
Plan (2002-2007). This plan had the objective ‘to contribute substantially to making public life secure by managing
natural and anthropogenic disasters systematically and effectively, and by making development and construction
related programmes in the country sustainable, reliable, and highly gainful’. A clause to strengthen the provisions
for assessing disaster risk in development infrastructure was also highlighted. Strategies related to early warning
systems in the 10th Plan include adoption of suitable technology to minimize environmental impacts and losses,
carrying out effective public awareness activities, and preparation of hazard maps for vulnerable areas.
Management of water-induced disasters is one of the priority areas of the Water Resources Strategy (2002).
According to this strategy, water-induced disaster prevention, warning/preparedness, and mitigation measures will
be established in at least 20 priority districts in the short term, and for the whole country by 2027.
The Nepal National Strategy for Disaster Risk Management (2009) states that all issues on gender and social
inclusion will be mainstreamed into all phases of disaster risk management. In the strategy, the role and importance
of effective community-based disaster risk reduction is considered a priority, while mainstreaming gender is of
importance. The National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) to Climate Change project in Nepal proposes a
more comprehensive approach to climate change adaptation at the local and national level by incorporating a key
set of environmental indicators into the national adaptation programme’s surveillance activities. The NAPA priority
areas include vulnerability assessment at the local level, surveillance of hazards, risk knowledge, and response
capacity building (GoN 2010). Climate change has a direct impact on change in precipitation/rainfall and the
occurrence of floods, thus an integrated approach is highlighted involving all stakeholders and tools for community-
based early warning systems.
Risk knowledge Monitoring and warning services
•There is limited involvement of women in risk assessment
(hazard, vulnerability, and capacity assessment for local
•Only four of the 26 organizations surveyed (15%) had
a provision for gender disaggregated vulnerability
•No organizations have a sufﬁcient focus on women’s and
men’s traditional knowledge and perceptions.
•Community-based organizations, and women’s groups
in particular, are not yet linked to the organizations that
collect scientiﬁc information.
•Mostly men are involved in observing and documenting
hazard occurrence, establishing community-based early
warning systems, training on early warning systems
equipment installation, operations and maintenance.
•Only four of the 26 organizations surveyed (15%) had
mobilized women’s groups or individual women for
monitoring and warning services.
•The ﬂood monitoring and forecasting work carried
out by DHM at the national level is centralized, and
women’s groups ﬁnd it very hard to receive information
in a timely manner.
Communication and dissemination Response capability
•Mostly men are involved in disseminating disaster alerts
and radio messages.
•Mandatory provisions for the involvement of women in
DRM committees at local levels have given women some
access to early warning systems messages.
•Women are less well targeted by communication products
•Women normally don’t receive hazard warnings because
they only receive information indirectly (from men in the
•There is no feedback mechanism to show whether the risks
and warnings are understood by women and the illiterate.
•Both men and women take part in training on what
to do at times of disaster, managing disaster events,
response activities, contingency planning, and others.
•Women’s engagement in response capacity building
is increasing due to the mandatory provisions in
government rules and guidelines and strategies of the
•Due to social norms and barriers, women still
don’t come forward during planning for response
preparedness and capacity building.
Figure 10: Involvement of women in the four key elements of early warning systems in Nepal
Many of the existing disaster risk reduction tools and frameworks such as vulnerability progression, key elements
of people-centred early warning systems, and the vulnerability analysis framework are not gender sensitive.
Furthermore, the existing institutional structure needs support at all levels of government for effective implementation
of these policy frameworks and strategies.
Policy provisions, strategies, and programme guidelines are flexible, but are not specific enough for gender
integration in disaster risk reduction, including early warning systems activities. An effective early warning system
contributes to building safer and more resilient communities, but equal involvement of men and women is required
to address specific needs and priorities (Gautam 2009).
Case Studies on Community-Based Flood Early Warning Systems
Two case studies were carried out on community-based flood early warning systems implemented by Practical Action
in Chitwan and Banke districts. Field visits were made to the two districts and information collected from individuals
as well as through group discussions. A checklist was used for focus group discussions involving community
members and related stakeholders at community and district levels.
Bacheuli village in Chitwan District
Bacheuli village lies 35 km to the southeast of Narayanghat Bazar, Chitwan. Bacheuli is one of the most flood
affected villages in Chitwan District. It is surrounded by different streams including the Khageri, Budhi Rapti, and
Dhungre Khola, which ultimately join the Thuli Rapti river.
Flood is a devastating and recurring disaster in the village; the Rapti River has a repeat interval of 7–10 years for
large floods. Following a devastating flood in 1954, the Nepal Timber Corporation was established to manage
felled and swept away trees and forest resources. Devastating floods causing significant damage were recorded
in 1970, 1974, 1990, 1993 (three killed), 2002 (three killed), and 2005. Large areas of agricultural land were
destroyed by each flood. Local government and NGOs have provided support for river training and response
operations, including construction of embankments and dikes in the village, with support from the District
Development Committee (DDC), Chitwan. A vulnerability assessment of the community flood hazard showed
that lack of awareness, poverty incidence, unequal access to resources, physical vulnerability, lack of meaningful
participation of women in early warning systems, and traditional beliefs were the key underlying causes of the
unsafe and more vulnerable conditions in the community.
Flood early warning system
The Local Disaster Management Committee (LDMC) which is chaired by the Village Development Committee (VDC)
(currently the VDC secretary), has a five-member early warning sub-committee. A hydrological station at Rajaiya
on the east Rapti River operated by DHM monitors the water level. Alert and danger levels have been established
by DHM based on past flood records and in consultation with the community. An information flow chart has been
prepared where alert levels are communicated by the gauge reader to the chairpersons of the local and district
disaster management committees, FM stations, Practical Action, and the communities. The LDMC committee is
equipped with a set of sirens and basic search and rescue items, including life vests and ropes. Sirens have been set
at three levels to be alert, to be prepared, and to move/evacuate. Lead time from the station to the village is about
four hours, which is adequate time for people to evacuate and save lives and property. All households have been
informed about the early warning system mechanism, with contact details for Chitwan District, to facilitate better
preparedness. This list is updated on an annual basis or as necessary. Community members have been trained
in flood evacuation drills. This is a simple system of the type that the community can afford, and is linked with
emergency response agencies (security force, District Disaster Relief Committee, District Development Committee
Flood early warning system in action in Bacheuli village
“On 24th August 2010, there was continuous rainfall for more than ten hours. I received a phone call from Badri Bahadur
Dhakal, gauge reader at Rajaiya gauge station for Rapti River, at 2:30 PM. Badri informed me that the water level at
Rajaiya was 3.8 m, which was below danger level but something to worry about as the rain was still pouring down
[warning level 3.5 m, danger level 4.2 m],” said Dukharam Mahato, an LDMC task force member. His team has a person
responsible for getting the information from the gauge reader, and a team responsible for disseminating information to the
community with the help of a hand operated siren, hand microphone, and CDMA phone. The task force also has a search
and rescue team, ﬁrst aid team, and volunteers responsible to help people in the case of an emergency. The task force is
responsible for coordinating with, and is answerable to, the DMC.
Mahato called the other DMC members to ask for their suggestions. A quick decision was made to observe the water level
downstream as well. Nakul, the DMC member responsible for the downstream, reported that the water level had risen to
three times higher than usual. The DMC members then gathered in the VDC building, which was earlier identiﬁed as the
midpoint during any emergency. The most vulnerable wards, Ward No.1 Badreni, Ward No. 7 Magartol, and Ward No 2
Sauraha, were informed ﬁrst, as they would be ﬂooded ﬁrst. The task force members were then on standby for response. After
the information on the danger level was disseminated, the task force stood by with life-saving equipment such as life jackets,
ropes, boats, and ﬁrst aid kits ready for use at any time. Everyone and everything was in place to alert the community. “We
informed the community about the water level through a hand-held microphone as the siren could not communicate the water
level information. Though people had reacted to the siren more during the mock drill, we decided to use the siren only when
the water reached danger level to avoid chaos and confusion. Our community was not ﬂooded, but we were successful in
informing them about the rising water level”, said Nakul. (Source: http://practicalaction.org/region_nepal_ews)
The community discussions revealed that there are clear roles and responsibilities and that gender issues are
considered. Two of the five members of the committee responsible for the actual warnings are women, including
the committee coordinator. The village has its own search and rescue team, the members of which know the special
needs of women, children, the elderly, and those with disabilities. Training on disaster response, including early
warning systems, was provided by the DDC and Practical Action. Women, children, the elderly, and those with
disabilities were specifically oriented. The early warning messages and alerts and dissemination means are gender
neutral. Attention was given to gender issues while forming the LDMC and in the selection of participants for the
There is a provision for local level hazard monitoring, especially monitoring of flood level, and dissemination of
flood warnings to households, via siren. Both men and women have a level of response capacity. The community-
based early warning system has been integrated with the water level and rainfall monitoring system of DHM.
Community members, including women, were trained on the response to early warnings and safety. People are
aware of the safety tips in times of disaster; they are familiar with the escape routes and safest location near their
houses. The early warning system practised in Bacheuli village appears to be sustainable; however, sustained
coordination among the DMC, local authorities, and NGOs is crucial.
The confidence level of both men and women has improved. According to community members, all communities affected
by the Rapti River can directly replicate this system in their area where there is a weather station and/or river gauge.
The success of the system depends largely on the capacity of the community to respond after alerts and messages
are received. The community capacity, especially the capacity of the most vulnerable, needs to be enhanced.
Holiya village in Banke District
Holiya village has 1,115 households with a total population of 6,290 (3,315 male, 2,975 female; Census 2011),
with a high incidence of poverty associated with low income and a low level of land ownership. The village is
characterized by river systems in which flow levels are influenced by rainfall far upstream, with floods occurring
more regularly in recent years. Evacuation efforts take many hours.
Recurring, almost annual, floods have had a marked impact on the lives of the village people. Many have lost
their lives due to flooding in the past 15 years (one killed in 1998; two in 2004; four in 2006; seven in 2007; one
in 2010; two in 2011, and one in 2012). Poor quality houses, unscientific agricultural practices, lack of land use
planning, and the frequently changing river course, among others, have made this village vulnerable to floods. The
2006 and 2007 floods had a particularly devastating impact on the village. The 2007 flood claimed seven lives;
whereas floods in 2006 had the highest level of property damage (estimated at USD 1,437,000).
A community vulnerability assessment showed poverty, unequal access to resources, lack of meaningful participation
of women in early warning systems, and traditional beliefs to be among the key underlying causes of the higher
vulnerability and flood risk in the community.
Flood early warning system
In 2007, the Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS), Practical Action, and the Centre for Social Development and
Research (CSDR) put an early warning system in place in Holiya village (Figure 11). This has enhanced community
capacity for monitoring flood levels and disseminating flood warnings and alerts, and increased community
awareness of response activities. The rain gauge station installed by DHM in the Kusum River has helped in
providing rainfall data and information to local stakeholders, including the media and the community.
Figure 11: Early warning information mechanism in Banke District
District Police Ofﬁce, Banke
Tel: 081-526191, 526111
Ilaka Police Ofﬁce
Kusum, HF set
Ilaka Police Ofﬁce,
Betahani: HF Set
Local FM Radios & Media
Bageshwori FM: 081-523482
Bheri FM: 081-525727
Jana Aawaj FM: 081-527300
Radio Bheri Aawaj FM: 081-550739
Kohalpur FM: 081-541361
Local Peoples/Community Organisations
Holiya: 081-691269, 694607, 974801263
Betahani: 081-694605, 9748022912
Gangapur: 081-621068, 691612, 9532008096
Flood Forecasting Section
Flood Forecasting Section,
Tel: 016208415, VHF Set
District Administration ofﬁce
Banke, Tel: 081-525339, 520188
Nepal Red Cross Society,
Banke Branch Ofﬁce
New Red Cross Society,
Source: Practical Action (2009)
A local disaster management committee (LDMC) was formed in 2009 which has the responsibility for managing
early warning systems at the community level. The LDMC is an institution created by the community themselves with
their own representatives. It is currently composed of ten members including two women. The formation process
was facilitated by staff members of the Nepal ‘Scaling up early warning systems’ project. They emphasized the
importance of a local level institution for disaster risk reduction. The committee is involved in mobilizing resources,
building community response capacities, and managing early warning systems. Although there is no standard
operating procedure (SOP), an understanding has been developed of the roles and responsibilities of DMC
members, which is followed.
The committee is equipped with a siren and basic search and rescue equipment. The committee and other community
members have received training on various aspects of disaster risk reduction including early warning systems.
One of the key responsibilities of the DMC is to make sure that an early warning system is in place and functional
to reduce the flood risk in and around the village, and save both lives and property. A system has been established
with sounding of a siren when the water at the west Rapti River crosses the danger level. The committee is also
responsible for operating a river gauge at Kusum. The gauge reader informs the community, Chief District Officer
(CDO), police, and FM station when the level of the river rises above 4.5 m. When the siren is sounded, the
community members start to move to safer places. The community members consider that the early warning system
is timely. It covers all aspects of a people-centred early warning system: it covers the majority of households, is
low cost, uses locally available technology, and is affordable and manageable by the local community, as human
resources are also available locally for repairing the equipment. The initial cost for the early warning systems
was around NPR 300,000 (approx. USD 3,500), which was provided by Practical Action and NRCS. According
to the community members, there is virtually no additional cost for repair. The community has created a fund to
sustain the initiative, with a basic amount contributed by Practical Action and NRCS and additional funds raised
by the community through ‘muthi daan’ (a traditional practice in rural Nepal to collect assets in kind to use in
emergencies; cereal/grain is collected from each household and stored in a safe place). The system is connected
with the DHM station at Kusum, CDO, DDRC, VDC, and police.
The participation of women in formal meetings and in the decision-making process is still a challenge. When
floods occur, men and women help each other to be safe. But women’s participation is very low in committees and
meetings. During the field visit for this study, an attempt was made to have a focus group discussion involving men
and women members of the DMC and other community members, but women were reluctant to sit together with
men and had to be interviewed separately. There are a number of reasons for this. The local society still considers
implementing an early warning system, and use of equipment such as blowing sirens, to be ‘technical’ and the
preserve of men, and the culture still seems reluctant to accept women coming forward in social gatherings and
community services. The warning information is transmitted by siren or loudspeakers by the men in public places
less frequented by women. Thus, women, who have less knowledge about the nature of hazards and more limited
response capacities, are likely to remain more affected than men. These findings confirm those of an earlier field-
based study carried out in Banke and Bardiya districts, which concluded that the community-based flood early
warning systems in the area didn’t consider the needs of both men and women and thus didn’t take differential
gendered vulnerabilities into account (Rana 2011).
Community members have increased their knowledge over the years through the project interventions and learning
by experience. Hazard monitoring at local and regional levels, and response capacity building of community
members, have clearly increased. However, the dissemination of disaster alerts is seen as ‘gender neutral’, and the
mechanisms of information dissemination still need a special focus on and attention to women.
Community members said: “In past years, we could not sleep at night during the rainy season fearing how and
when the flood will come. But now, we can trust that we will hear the siren before flood and will have time to save
our lives”. The effectiveness of the early warning system was demonstrated during the flood on 3 August 2012.
Incessant monsoon rain raised water in the west Rapti River to a critical level of 7.24 m, meaning that a large flood
was imminent. Fortunately for downstream communities, the early warning system was activated as planned at the
first warning level, and an electronic display board at the District Administration Office (DAO) sounded a siren.
Dhundi Raj Pokharel, the Chief District Officer (CDO), then advised security forces to disseminate information to
police posts in the vulnerable communities. Police forces were also dispatched with ropes and life jackets to prepare
for the oncoming flood. The warnings were further disseminated locally. For example, Pralad Dhobi, a member
of the communication team in Holiya, immediately alerted his community to the flood threat by blowing a hand-
operated siren. This enabled the communities to utilize the early warning provided by the system and move to
higher ground, thus preventing a major disaster. Mr Dhobi said the early warning system in Holiya “saved lives and
valuable property because communities got flood information.”
Response capacity building is another key element in an effective community-based early warning system. Training
was provided to community members, including women, on the response to early warnings and the safety of lives.
With support from external agencies, the current early warning system in Holiya village is running well. Formation
of a community level group (the DMC), linkages with local government and NGOs, provision of hazard monitoring
and dissemination through locally available materials, and response capacity of community members are key
aspects indicating sustainability of the system. The community has also raised funds (currently around NPR 30,000)
through muthi daan and from income generated by utilizing the boat received as part of the SAR equipment, which
will be used to support victims and for some disaster related activities.
This is very good system, and can be replicated in many places. The challenge to sustainability lies in maintaining
the mechanism and the relationship with the local government and technical institutions responsible for hazard
monitoring and dissemination, as well as ensuring local level risk assessments on a regular basis, and engaging
vulnerable community members.
Community-based flood early warning systems have been established by Practical Action in cooperation with DHM
in Bachauli and Holiya villages. An early warning information mechanism has been put in place in coordination
with various actors, including the flood forecasting section of DHM, local gauge reader, District Administration
Office, district police, local police, Nepal Red Cross Society, local FM radio and other media, and district and local
DMCs and the communities. Training on preparedness and response were provided to the local communities to
enable timely response. Gender issues are considered to some extent, although women’s representation in meetings
and local DMCs is low.
People recommended that more mitigation activities are needed. The sustainable solution for effective reduction
of disaster impacts is to build the response capacity of vulnerable communities. River training is a viable option
for hazard prevention. The early warning system is helpful in saving lives, but is also required to save land and
other property. For this, there is a need to work on an integrated approach addressing all aspects of flood hazard,
including structural and non-structural measures.
It became clear during the field visits and interviews that although people expressed their awareness about the
special needs of women during disasters, the need remained for meaningful participation of women in the decision-
Information, institutional arrangements, and warning systems should be tailored to meet the needs of vulnerable
groups such as women, the elderly, children, and other physically or socially disadvantaged groups. Most of the
activities in the study area, including the alert dissemination mechanism, are seen as ‘gender neutral’.
Key Challenges, Gaps
Numerous challenges, gaps, and opportunities for integrating gender considerations into early warning systems in
Nepal were identified during the study. Some of the points relate to increasing the effectiveness and sustainability
of early warning systems in general, but are included as these improvements provide a necessary basis for usefully
integrating gender considerations. The key points are summarized below.
Challenges and Gaps
Capacity is not fully utilized due to the lack of involvement of women. Women’s participation is generally limited
to users’ committees, which have a limited role and little active involvement in decision-making processes.
Women comprise 19% of the total staff in the organizations consulted, and appear to be even less well represented
at decision-making levels, indicating the need to encourage and provide opportunities for women in the future.
Many organizations have been undertaking disaster reduction initiatives in isolation; these initiatives need to be
linked to and integrated with other initiatives in order to maximize overall impact.
A number of relevant ministries are not linked to disaster risk management, for example those concerned with
tourism and other economic sectors. Early warning systems for flood and other hazards are essential for tourists;
and tourism activities should be disaster – and gender-sensitive. Similarly other economic sectors (for example
transport and industry) are affected by disasters and should be linked with disaster risk management.
At present, coverage of flood early warning systems is limited to selected geographic areas; they should be
extended to provide more complete coverage with further improvements in technology.
In view of the diversity of development issues and livelihood challenges that communities face on a day-to-day
basis, it is important to tune early warning systems according to the local context. To ensure that they are
sustainable, they should also be used with advanced applications to disseminate key messages that will also be
useful for local livelihood needs, such as daily weather trends to support crop related decisions, market related
decisions, and storage and transport related decisions.
It is important to recognize that women play an active role in family livelihood security and efforts must be
made to involve women equally with men in creating and receiving early warnings and alerts. Women should
be involved in infrastructure management teams for local early warning systems and they must be provided with
mobile phones or portable radios to receive warning messages.
Providing education about gender-sensitive early warning systems, vulnerability and risk, and knowledge about
what actions can be taken can result in better preparedness and response, thus improving the effectiveness of
early warning systems. However, coordinating and managing this at national and district levels is a challenge.
Most organizations in Nepal have a mandatory provision for the inclusion of women in user groups, which has been
effective. Such mandatory provisions are lacking for disaster risk reduction projects, including early warning systems.
Most of the organizations analysed had a sound technical capability.
The environment for inclusion of women and girls in disaster risk reduction and early warning systems was
clearly positive. Gender focal points had been appointed in the various ministries and departments and NGOs,
and participation of women in project design and implementation is increasing.
As one of the areas for project/programme evaluation, gender was a key outcome indicator for some of the
The security forces are a huge and valuable resource for disaster risk management. It would be helpful if these
forces could be utilized for risk reduction as well as response.
The diverse stakeholders representing INGOs, NGOs, and government and community organizations working
on disaster risk reduction have different knowledge and skills, which need further strengthening and scaling up.
A number of activities related to disaster risk reduction have introduced gender and social inclusiveness in
disaster preparedness; these need to be strengthened, expanded, and scaled up to make early warning systems
Given the knowledge gaps, there are opportunities for capacity building to link the various levels of institutions,
to link to other disaster risk reduction and management efforts, and to develop a coordinated approach towards
more effective early warning systems.
Development of gender-sensitive tools and mechanisms for disseminating and receiving alerts, and for response
capacity building of women and girls, are a necessity for improved early warning systems.
Although, there is a positive trend in understanding of gender issues, integration of the gender perspective into
early warning systems in general, and those for flood hazards in particular, is at an early stage in Nepal. Gender
inclusion in early warning systems tends to be limited to risk assessment and the participation of women in
community groups and capacity building and training, although almost all of the organizations consulted had a
positive attitude towards making disaster risk reduction gender sensitive by involving women and men in the risk
assessment, project formulation, and implementation. Many respondents considered women’s participation to be
key to developing an effective early warning system. However, very few had plans for making the tools, processes,
and early warning messages gender-sensitive. Sensitization on the development of gender-sensitive tools in early
warning systems, including gender-sensitive risk assessment, gender-sensitive mechanisms for disseminating and
receiving alerts, and response capacity building of women and girls, is needed in order to make early warning
systems in the country gender-sensitive and thus more effective. Mechanisms and strategies targeted to women, and
commitment to them by key stakeholders at all levels, are crucial for gender integration in early warning systems.
Based on the current study, the following recommendations are made to ensure that early warning systems are
effective and functional:
The capacity of key stakeholders, including staff and volunteers, on gender-sensitive early warning systems needs
to be enhanced. Regular interactions and repeated training activities on gender-sensitive early warning systems
are needed to address the problems of turnover of trained staff and of changes in the community (since many
men migrate for off-farm employment).
Gender issues should be integrated into the project cycle management of disaster risk reduction programmes,
including the disaster risk assessment, early warning system, information management, and community
awareness and training. Women’s participation needs to be ensured in all phases of the disaster risk
Gender disaggregated data on local hazards, community vulnerability, capacities, and risk need to be
mainstreamed and unified involving all stakeholders. In addition, tools and frameworks for disaster risk
reduction and early warning systems need to be revised to make them gender sensitive.
Gender analysis should be made mandatory at the design phase of any disaster risk reduction project, and of
early warning systems projects in particular.
There is a need for more research on various aspects of early warning systems from a gender perspective to
improve existing systems.
Information, institutional arrangements, and warning systems should be tailored to meet the needs of vulnerable
groups such as women, the elderly, children, and other physically and socially disadvantaged groups. In the
study area, most of the activities, including the alert dissemination mechanism, are seen as ‘gender neutral’.
Special attention should be paid to including gender in early warning system initiatives in future.
There is a need to initiate public-private partnerships for early warning systems and to promote corporate social
responsibility to share the burden of government responsibility for disaster risk reduction.
There is a need to strengthen the gender cells or focal points in each ministry, department, and disaster
committee at the various levels. Networking is also needed among these different organizations to share
information and experience on early warning systems from a gender perspective in Nepal.
Recognition of women’s contribution and integration of gender concepts in overall development frameworks and
strategies should be strengthened.
Better coordination among key stakeholders and communities, and between organizations, is crucial for
gender integration in early warning systems and disaster risk reduction programmes. Linkages between national
agencies and community-based organizations need to be strengthened.
MoHA needs a more holistic and integrated approach to disaster risk management and to expand the current
focus on response capabilities.
Comprehensive and gender-sensitive early warning systems should be developed and implemented at a national
level by consolidating the efforts of individual organizations on community-based early warning systems.
Currently, most organizations in Nepal focus their efforts on response capacity building and communication
and dissemination, without linking to systematic risk assessment and monitoring mechanisms at the national
and community levels. All four key elements of people-centred early warning systems need to be promoted
strategically from a gender perspective at both national and community levels.
Capacity building of communities on early warning systems needs to be continuously strengthened. The capacity
of women’s groups and other organizations in risk knowledge, monitoring and warning, dissemination and
communication, and response capacity needs to be built; ultimately this will sustain community-based early
The mechanism of early warning systems at the local level needs to be maintained, including the functional
relationship of DMC/community members with the local government agencies and technical institutions that
provide early warning information. The role of DMCs in hazard monitoring, dissemination, and coordination
needs to be strengthened.
Adopting a gender-sensitive early warning system approach with appropriate policies in place will help in reducing
the disaster mortality of women and contribute to reducing the adverse impact of flood disasters.
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Annex 1: Organizations Consulted
1. Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, Ministry of Environment
2. Department of Soil Conservation and Watershed Management DSCWM, Ministry of Forests and Soil
3. Department of Water-Induced Disaster Prevention (DWIDP)
4. Ministry of Defence
5. Ministry of Education
6. Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MOFALD)
7. Ministry of Health and Population
8. Ministry of Home Affairs
9. Ministry of Irrigation
10. Ministry of Information and Communication
11. Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation
12. Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare
13. National Planning Commission
International non-governmental organizations
14. Mercy Corps Nepal
15. Oxfam GB
16. Plan International (Nepal)
17. Practical Action Nepal
18. Save the Children
UN and humanitarian organizations
19. Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS)
20. UNDP – Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management Project
National non-governmental and other organizations
21. Agro-Farm Foresters’ Association Nepal (AFFAN)
22. Centre for Disaster Management Studies (CDMS)
23. Centre of Resilient Development (CoRD)
24. Disaster Preparedness Network (DPNet)
25. National Disaster Risk Management Forum (NDRMF)
26. Society of Hydrologists and Meteorologists (SOHAM)
Activities related to gender sensitive EWS
Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), Ministry of Environment – DHM is the key agency for providing and
disseminating weather related information. There are several ongoing projects at DHM that relate to early warning
systems and strengthening the capacity of DHM to mitigate the adverse impacts of water related disasters by
improving the accuracy and timeliness of data and information and its application to end users.
Primarily, flood risk assessments are conducted from a technological perspective, as they analyse thresholds and
determine the danger level of water discharge. No specific gender lens, purely technical issues are addressed.
DHM monitors hazards using hydro-meteorological and satellite information and provides limited forecasts. The
department is linked to MoHA, DWIDP, and MOAC for communication and information dissemination. Media
channels including radio, television, SMS systems, and websites are used to disseminate warning messages. These
messages are not specifically designed for women or other vulnerable groups. DHM has initiated collaboration with
Practical Action for community based early warning systems to make information flow to those communities where
action will be taken.
Department of Soil Conservation and Watershed Management (DSCWM) – The department is involved in coordination,
implementation, technical support, and research related to disaster risk management. No specific early warning
systems project exists at present. Gender issues are addressed through users’ committees at the community level.
The ministry follows the guidelines issued by NPC, with mandatory provision for the involvement of women in users’
committees. The ministry also provides technical support and scaling up of activities through district soil conservation
offices across the country. No specific mechanism exists for engaging women in monitoring and dissemination of
information/warnings. Projects are handed over to the users’ committees once completed. Awareness raising posters
and pamphlets are distributed to the general public, but do not have a specific focus on women.
Department of Water-Induced Disaster Prevention (DWIDP), Ministry of Irrigation – DWIDP’s work focuses primarily on
the technical aspects of flood risk assessment and mitigation. Response mechanisms are mainly related to river
control. The department also conducts awareness training but not with a specific focus on women. Public awareness
materials like posters, pamphlets, and leaflets are produced and distributed. Women are not well targeted as the
department sees the community as a whole. There are no women specific activities; however as per NPC guidelines
women’s involvement in users’ committees is mandatory.
Ministry of Defence (MoD) – The army has some regular training programmes on disaster response focusing mainly
on search and rescue operations. No gender sensitive risk assessment is done. The army communication network is
utilized to report internally. It does not communicate directly with the public except on activities related to response
and recovery. The army is the key unit dispatched for response operations. The personnel are trained about the kind
of special needs that will be needed during rescue operations for women, the disabled, the elderly, and others.
Ministry of Education (MoE) – The ministry has a gender based budgeting and planning process in place and also
carries out vulnerability assessments focusing on women’s vulnerability. Recommendations are made through
ministry level action committees and national development action committees. The national plan has incorporated
some issues on flood/disaster. The ministry does not carry out hazard monitoring and does not make or disseminate
Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MOFALD) – The ministry is mainly involved in policy/strategy
formulation, coordination, and technical support. At present, no specific projects exist on early warning systems.
Many local development projects on disaster mitigation have been implemented through DDCs throughout Nepal,
but not directly by the ministry itself. The ministry has developed guidelines to include women in local development
activities. The ministry coordinates Flagship 4 of the NSDRM and is working to make all VDCs Flagship 4
compliant, which includes early warning systems and also addresses gender issues. The ministry’s performance
monitoring mechanism includes gender indicators.
Ministry of Health and Population (MoH) – The ministry is involved in formulation of policy/strategy, coordination,
technical support, and research activities primarily related to public health management. There are no flood related
projects at present, even though epidemics may result from floods. The ministry has a gender focal point to consider
gender sensitivity within the organization and beyond. A gender responsive budgeting and monitoring mechanism
has been established. Monitoring is done for epidemics and other disease-related outbreaks; some of which may
result from floods or similar hazards. Very little research has been undertaken on the correlation between flood
hazard and disease outbreaks in the Nepalese context. Every year people die from diarrhoea in the mid-west. This
may be due to poor sanitation conditions resulting in contaminated drinking water. However, there is not enough
research evidence. The ministry produces and disseminates lots of material on health issues through different
channels and media sources. Gender issues are addressed in the dissemination process, but not specifically on
flood hazards and early warning systems.
Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) – The ministry is mainly involved in development of policy, strategy, and
programmes, and coordination and technical support related to disaster risk management. Its first responsibility
is for disaster preparedness and response to disaster events. Disaster risks are assessed through past experiences
and case studies. There is no specific project at present related to early warning systems. No systematic gender
considerations are made while analyzing vulnerability and capacity. Communication networks (primarily police
and radio) are utilized for disseminating information. An Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) network has started
documenting data disaggregated by gender. These procedures have incorporated gender sensitive strategies. The
ministry occasionally conducts public awareness campaigns and trainings where women’s issues are considered.
Ministry of Irrigation (MoI) – The ministry provides policy support, coordination, and technical assistance related
to disaster risk management in Nepal. Among the four components of early warning systems, the ministry works
partly on risk knowledge, risk monitoring, and communication/dissemination. Response is limited to closing
canal intakes when flooding crosses the danger limit, flood hazard problems are addressed at the design stage.
There is no practice or culture of documenting women’s knowledge, perceptions, or experience separately while
designing a project. The ministry and district offices work through users’ committees and build their capacities.
Women’s participation is limited to the mandatory minimum number of women as per the NPC guidelines (33%
representation in user groups). No women specific activities or impact indicators have been considered yet, apart
from the number of women in the users’ committees. There are no other mechanisms or forums for engaging
women. Monitoring systems are limited to safety of infrastructure and involve designated staff members. Data are
not disseminated externally; they are for internal use and future reference only. No warning is sent to communities.
Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC) – The ministry’s work focuses on developing communication
policies and strategies. There are no projects, risk assessments, or mechanism for monitoring flood/early warning
systems provisions at present. The ministry coordinates the public service advertisements of the government. Each
type of media (print, FM radio, television) receives a package of public service advertisements from the government.
Flood/disaster issues are addressed through these advertisements. The ministry does not produce the content itself,
but coordinates with sectoral ministries. For web-based telemetry, the telecom provider plays a key role in data
transmission and acquisition.
Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) – The ministry works on disaster, focusing on tourism sites, e.g.,
providing meteorological warnings to mountaineers. It coordinates with DHM to get weather information. It has no
risk assessment or response mechanism.
Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MoWC) – The ministry is involved in policy and programme strategy,
coordination, and technical support related to women’s empowerment and development. There are no early
warning systems projects for flood hazard at present. It focuses on improving women’s status through capacity
building, income generation, and savings and credit activities. The district women development officer represents
the ministry in the DDRC, but until now no meaningful representation has been made.
National Planning Commission (NPC) – The NPC is involved in formulation of policies and guidelines, coordination,
technical support, and research. It develops national level plans in which gender based budgeting and planning
processes are included. It conducts women vulnerability assessments and recommendations are made through
different ministries and other related national development action committees. The national plan has incorporated
issues related to flood disaster risk management. Monitoring is carried out based on indicators identified within the
specific projects and programmes.
International non-governmental organizations
Mercy Corps – Mercy Corps implements early warning systems projects in schools (SCORE project on early warning
systems) mainly in Kailali, Kanchanpur, Bardia, and Tanahun districts. Women are involved in all phases of the
project cycle. Mercy Corps has specific gender-related outcome indicators. The impact on women is evaluated.
Gender considerations are integrated into disaster risk reduction. The organization works with women’s groups,
and their traditional knowledge on disaster risk reduction, needs, and concerns are analysed. Both women and
men take part in early warning systems and other disaster risk reduction activities. Women and men are equally
involved, and the organizational arrangements are established in a gender balanced way. Women’s organizations
are involved in vulnerability analysis and hazard mapping. Gender differentiated data are maintained. Gender
perspectives have been mainstreamed in all the processes. Women’s participation in all the processes is ensured.
Messages are gender sensitive. Men and women are both involved in the communication system. A coordination
mechanism has been established with the Red Cross, police, media, and district authorities. Warnings are
respected. The response capacity building activities are gender sensitive.
Oxfam – Oxfam implements early warning systems projects in Dadeldhura, Sarlahi, Saptari, Dhanusa, and Rautahat
districts. Women vulnerability assessments were carried out during the project formulation stage. Knowledge
attitude and practice (KAP) analysis was also carried out at the project sites with a special focus on women and
disadvantaged groups. Women’s traditional knowledge was assessed and respected in the KAP analysis. Women
and men are both involved in risk assessment. Organizational arrangements are in line to engage women in
capacity building, training, and assessments. Women and men are equally involved in vulnerability analysis.
Gender differentiated data and maps are available to distribute to different stakeholders. Equal involvement of
men and women is ensured in the project formulation, implementation, and monitoring stages. Oxfam coordinates
with police, district authorities, and other stakeholders during disaster response periods. Gender issues are also
incorporated in different awareness raising materials like street drama, PSA, radio programmes, and print materials.
Plan International – Plan International is mainly involved in coordination, technical support, implementation, and
research on child-focused disaster management programmes in Morang, Sunsari, Banke, Makwanpur, Sindhuli,
and Rautahat districts. Attention is paid to the participation of women and children in development programming.
There are no specific early warning systems projects, but women participation in all projects is encouraging. Women
focused capacity building activities are being carried out, but not necessarily related to response capacity building.
Practical Action – Practical Action works closely with DHM, MoHA, and MOFLAD at the central level and local
NGOs at the community level. Currently, early warning systems programmes are being implemented in Tanahun,
Banke, and Bardia districts. Some successful activities have been accomplished in Kailali and Chitwan districts.
The gender focus has generally been guided by the organizational strategy, and sufficient focus is given, especially
during training sessions and formation of groups. Practical Action is one of the few organizations in Nepal which
works in all four key components of early warning systems. Warning alerts and emergency communications are
disseminated using a variety of channels including CDO, police, FM, mobile phones, landline, and sirens are some
of the channels/means/media. Women volunteers are also mobilized for early warning systems dissemination at the
community level. Response capacity is built through essay competitions, letter writing contests, quiz contests, debate
competitions, and FM radio.
Save the Children – Save the Children implements school disaster risk reduction programmes in Ilam and Taplejung
targeting approximately 26,000 direct beneficiaries. Needs are assessed involving both men and women. Gender
indicators are included at both output and outcome levels. Both boys and girls participate in the school disaster
risk reduction activities. Gender disaggregated data are available. However, there are no specific projects on early
warning systems. The primary focus is on children, so women’s issues also have a high priority. Women’s needs,
concerns, and knowledge are included in vulnerability assessments. Radio programmes and psycho-social activities
are being implemented in target areas for wider coverage, and the content of media products is reviewed from a
UN and humanitarian organizations
Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) – The Nepal Red Cross Society has implemented early warning systems in partnership
with Practical Action and Mercy Corps in Kailali, Kanchanpur, Bardiya, and Tanahun districts. NRCS is represents
in the DDRC. The organization works in all parts of disaster risk management, with special expertise on response
and recovery. NRCS has a women empowerment department, which coordinates all gender-related concerns and
issues. Women are involved in all stages of the project cycle. The M & E framework considers gender issues and
these are being integrated into risk reduction strategies. Women’s needs and concerns are analysed. The capacities
of women and men are identified, and their traditional knowledge is also respected. Women’s organizations are
involved in vulnerability analysis and hazard mapping. Women’s needs, concerns, and knowledge are included
in the assessment. Gender differentiated data is also maintained. The Red Cross is among the first organizations
to respond to natural disasters. They coordinate with local youth, police, armed forces, and other bodies. Their
response system ensures that gender issues are addressed and all works ensure that both women and men take part
in the response mechanism.
United Nations Development Programme – Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management Project (UNDP-CDRMP) – The
CDRMP provides technical support to MoHA in formulating policies/strategies, capacity building, coordination,
and implementation of CDRM projects. The project covers 35 districts in Nepal. Gender disaggregated data are
collected. Gender sensitivity analysis was not done at the start of the project; however women are given high
priority while forming community disaster management committees, in training, and in disseminating early warning
messages. CDRMP has strengthened national and district level emergency operations centres (EOCs) in the
project areas that are effective in end-to-end early warning systems. EOCs receive and analyse information and
disseminate early warnings. Response capacity building is also being held by the programme through staff and
DMCs. The project is highly conscious about gender issues, and practical tools, approaches and budget have been
allocated to address gender sensitive issues.
National non-governmental organizations
Agro-Farm Foresters’ Association Nepal (AFFAN) – AFFAN is involved in research, technology transfer and community
capacity building in flood damaged areas in various agro-climatic regions of Nepal. Various agro-forestry designs
developed by the NGO have been widely applied in reclaiming flood-damaged areas in the country.
Centre for Disaster Management Studies (CDMS) – CDMS is an active national NGO in the field of disaster research
and response capacity building. The majority of the board members and staff, including the chairperson, are
women. CDMS focuses primarily on hazard specific research and response capacity building of community
Centre of Resilience Development (CoRD) – CoRD works on building community resilience in some parts of Nepal.
Early warning systems is one of its priority areas for building community resilience, although it now focuses on
building earthquake resistant houses and community awareness.
Disaster Preparedness Network (DPNet) – DPNet is the pioneer organization involved in networking of disaster risk
reduction organizations in Nepal. It provides technical support to government organizations in formulating policies
and strategies. It also implements projects on disaster risk reduction based on available resources. It does not have
an early warning systems project at present. DPNet develops tools and techniques for disaster risk reduction in the
National Disaster Risk Management Forum (NDRMF) – NDRMF is a national NGO involved in response capacity
building of communities and implements some flood risk management activities. Currently, it does not have any
early warning systems project.
Society of Hydrologists and Meteorologists, Nepal (SOHAM) – SOHAM is the network of hydrologists in Nepal. It
conducts research and technology transfer activities. Currently, it does not have any early warning systems projects.
Annex 2: Stakeholder Consultation Questionnaire and Checklist
Checklist of questions for interview
Name of the organization/institution:
Nature of work:
Does your organization have any projects/activities related to early warning systems, particularly for flood hazards?
1.3 Human resources in the organization
Total number of staff:
# of female staff:
# of female staff in decision-making positions (section chief, head, officer level staff in the organization):
2. Project cycle analysis
To what extent do women participate in project identification, design, implementation, and M&E? What is the
proportion of women in decision-making positions? Is the needs assessment gender sensitive? Is the budget gender
sensitive? Are there any provisions for women’s participation in community groups and committees and for the
involvement of women’s organizations in disaster risk reduction and early warning systems activities?
2.1 Project identiﬁcation
Was a needs assessment especially for women carried out during the problem analysis phase?
Do the project’s general objectives adequately reflect women’s needs and women’s participation in project activities?
2.2 Project design
Is there any outcome indicator related to project impact on women’s actions?
Is there any outcome indicator related to project impact on women’s access and control?
2.3 Project implementation
Total # of project personnel
Total # of women staff
Total # of women staff in operations and logistics
Budget allocated for women staff activities?
Is there any flexibility for women staff (e.g., leave, travel, childcare)
2.4 Project evaluation
Women’s participation, impact on women indicators…
3. Gender-sensitive risk assessment
Were the hazard, vulnerability, and risk data segregated by gender? Were women’s organizations involved in the
risk assessment process? Did the acceptable risk include women’s views? Did the capacity assessment include
gender segregated data?
3.1 Identifying risk
hazards, vulnerabilities, and risks)
3.2 Determining the risks faced by men and women separately, in each region or community.
key risks been included?
3.3 Determining vulnerability
the key determinants of vulnerability, been included?
vulnerability and capacity?
natural hazards been identified?
3.4 Identifying capacity
programmes and actions (e.g., issues of mobility, children) been identified?
3.5 Determining the acceptable level of risk
4. Risk knowledge
Are there provisions in policies, strategies, and guidelines to engage women’s organizations in the capacity building
of women and men, developing standards/tools for risk assessment, dissemination of alerts, training, and hazard,
vulnerability, and capacity assessments?
vulnerability, and risk assessment
vulnerability maps for all communities
collection, sharing, and assessment of hazard and vulnerability data
reviewing the accuracy of risk data and information
information on new or emerging vulnerabilities and hazards
Natural hazards identiﬁed
key natural hazards including floods
Community vulnerability analysed
each region or community
4.1 Monitoring and warning services
generating and issuing warnings
Monitoring systems developed
regional networks, adjacent territories, and international sources accessible
4.2 Dissemination and information
Is there any provision to make sure that women will receive disaster alerts/warnings on time? Are there efforts
or provisions to ensure that the disseminated alerts/ warnings/ messages/ information are gender-sensitive?
disseminate hazard warnings to remote households and communities
appropriate equipment or mechanisms
women and men have received warnings
systems in the event of failure
4.3 Response capability
What are the provisions/ efforts/ practices current in your organizations to ensure that warnings/alerts received
by women will enable them to respond promptly and properly? Are the response capacity building activities
develop emergency preparedness and response plans
and responses reach women and men equally
incorporated into future capacity building strategies
4.4 Public awareness and education enhanced
What are the means of public awareness with regard to response capacity building? Any separate tool or
approach for women capacity building in practice?
vulnerable women and men and in a language they can understand
to respond to different types of hazards after an early warning message is received
schools to university
effectively involved in the response process
5. Key strengths, challenges, needs, and areas for improvement
Could you please provide us with your experiences on the key strengths, challenges, and areas for improvement in
early warning systems in Nepal, and particularly mainstreaming the needs and concerns of women?
Checklist of questions for case studies
1. Name of the district/village:
2. Name/sex of the respondent(s):
3. Number of people that participated in the discussion by gender:
4. Observations: main occupation, living conditions, housing and roofing types, population density, land use
pattern, natural resources etc. to be documented based on observation and secondary sources.
Key natural hazards
1. Key natural hazards in the locality
2. Floods: frequency, severity, households affected, damage caused in the past, coping mechanisms, duration of
3. Mitigation measures: existing practices. Support received from local government, NGOs
4. Hazard assessment, risk assessment, if any
5. Past disaster events in the locality, if any
Early warning systems/gender
1. Do you have any early warning system in place? If yes, is this indigenous or introduced? Did you receive any
support (financial and or technical) from NGOs, government, or any other organization?
2. What type of early warning system is in place in this locality?
3. How does it function? Who owns it? How does it sustain? Any committees to manage it?
4. Who are in the committee (men/women)?
5. Are there clear roles and responsibilities of the committee members? Is it gender disaggregated?
6. Is it effective and sustainable? (Early warning system is timely, covers all aspects of people-centred early
warning systems, i.e., covers majority of households, low cost, locally available technology, affordable by local
community, human resources are locally available for repairing, is tested)
7. Any gender related queries/concerns – participation/mobilization of women and children, training provided
8. Any other concerns regarding flood hazards, early warning systems, and gender concerns based on the
discussion and observations
9. Is the community early warning system linked to government early warning systems (if any)?
Community experience and reflections
© ICIMOD 2014
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
GPO Box 3226, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel +977 1 5003222 Fax +977 1 5003299
Email firstname.lastname@example.org Web www.icimod.org
ISBN 978 92 9115 321 3