In the Andhikhola valley of Syangja district, frequent floods cause human fatalities, destroy livelihoods, and wash away homes:  this is a humanitarian problem.  In response, we propose to develop a process, both replicable at scale and adaptable to site-specific conditions, to build local flood disaster resiliency using community engagement and landscape design. This work will take place on a stretch of the Andhikhola River within Syangja district between Rangkhola and Lampata.

 

Goals and Objectives

  1. A prototypical, site-neutral community engagement model designed to build a foundation of local input, perception, and knowledge for the design of community landscape-based resilience strategies. This community engagement model explores methods for establishing long-term engagement through youth outreach and stewardship, redirection of destructive labor forces such as gravel harvesting through productive construction and landscape maintenance, and giving community members agency in the design process.

 

  1. A landscape design in Syangja exploring site-specific applications of resiliency infrastructures within local ecological, cultural, social, and geophysical context. This design will also outline the roles of activities such as youth outreach and local labor within the evolution and growth of the master plan.

 

The project explores how existing work in livelihoods can shape or be shaped by the design and implementation of resiliency-building landscape infrastructure. There are many potential synergies, beginning with building sustainability and resiliency in agricultural practice which floods damage on an annual basis with growing extremity. It is also interested in exploring the redirection of environmentally harmful labor, such as gravel harvesting from streambeds, toward the building, maintenance, and stewardship of a communal productive landscape. The work of livelihoods programs spans several time scales; understanding the complexities and dynamics of working with both short and long-term project goals is also necessary to this project.

 

Relevance and Impacts

This project introduces a replicable resiliency-building process which responds to site-specific natural and cultural forms, practices, capacities, and systems, to propose landscape infrastructures founded in local context.  This process is rooted in community through site research, stakeholder discussions, design workshops.  While recognizing the value of hydraulic, mechanical, and bio-engineering methods, this work challenges the disconnect between community and engineered interventions common through Nepal and beyond. The power of this process is that it will lead to resiliency design and proposals for new physical infrastructures responsive to local context and utilizing resources such as local labor, construction knowledge, social frameworks, and beyond.  It will also propose long-term engagement strategies, such as a youth river-steward program, which tie this new infrastructure to social and cultural fabrics.  The innovation here also lies in the application of the principles of design utilized in an increasing number of urban and coastal resiliency projects in a rural agricultural context within the developing world.

 

This project explores design methods intended to build resiliency in landscape systems, reducing the vulnerability of landscape-based livelihoods and their practitioners (farmers, herders, etc.) to flooding and its effects.  It also gives agency to local capacity and knowledge through the community engagement process, leading to a place-based infrastructural solution.  This project is important because it sits at the intersection of disaster resiliency, environmental conservation, climate change adaptation, food security, and cultural landscape, negotiating between these many concurrent narratives.  This project is important in a humanitarian context because it can leverage the vast database of knowledge and methods developed by institutions such as OSM, ICIMOD, WWF, and others, in cooperation with community process, to develop physical, implementable resiliency design solutions.  Built environment disaster resiliency design has been almost entirely limited to architectural retrofit since the 2015 earthquake; it must expand to landscape.

 

The ultimate intention of this toolkit is to document local knowledge, capacity, and practices to create a platform for post-disaster response; in this case, a resiliency building landscape infrastructure proposal.  The toolkit has not yet been used as a platform for design, and building flood resiliency in Syangja is an ideal pilot project.  The toolkit also forms one of the base components of the community engagement process, which will also be built on precedent methods from the WWF Hariyo Ban program among others.  Many design projects rely on a designer to develop a proposal with minimal local interface; this project is founded in context and deep, long-term community engagement and capacity building.  The toolkit provides a methodology which will provide the team with knowledge necessary to the design process.