ADB helping combat severe flooding in Assam

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Singapore, Nov 20 (UNI) The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is helping India find ways to combat severe flooding and erosion in one of its poorest states -- Assam.

An Integrated Flood and Riverbank Erosion Risk Management Project was being prepared to shore up Assam's defenses against flooding and river erosion in vulnerable areas, the ADB said today.

The Project also aims to strengthen the state's policy, planning, and institutional framework to address the problems with a long-term strategy, it said.

The ADB said it was extending a 1,50,000 dollar technical assistance grant to help lay the groundwork for the project. Another 7,50,000 dollar grant would be provided by the Multi-donor Trust Fund under the Water Financing Partnership Facility.

The Fund, administered by the ADB, is contributed by the governments of Australia, Austria, and Norway.

Additional counterpart financing of 2,30,000 dollars is being provided by the Assam government.

The assistance would be used to ensure policies and institutions are ready to provide a comprehensive and coordinated flood and riverbank erosion risk management system.

''The project should help reduce poverty in flood and erosion-prone areas, boost production in agriculture, industry and urban services, and reduce damage from flooding and riverbank erosion while strengthening the essential institutional foundations to comprehensively address the problems,'' said Mr Kenichi Yokoyama, Principal Water Resources Management Specialist with ADB's South Asia Department.

India is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, with floods causing average annual damage of around 450 million dollars.

Assam is especially vulnerable with 90 per cent of its agricultural and urban land located in flood-prone areas.

The Indian government has developed a policy framework for integrated flood management but major gaps continue to exist between the national framework and actual implementation at the state level.

Assam has installed flood embankment systems protecting about 50 per cent of its flood-prone areas. However, their effectiveness is limited by poor construction, a lack of maintenance, rising riverbed levels and erosion.

The state also needs to build the capacity of institutions for flood risk management and integrate their operations with the disaster management systems.

The project is part of ADB's 2009 country-lending programme for India.

UNI XC SKB HS1507

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