Puthenvelikkara takes steps to address climate change challenges

Even as the world is looking at transformative action to combat the climate crisis, Puthenvelikkara panchayat in North Paravur taluk of Ernakulam district is pioneering action by modifying local-level responses.

With the help of a technology start-up, the people of Puthenvelikkara are working on a long-term, inclusive action plan for understanding, documenting and addressing the challenges of climate change faced by the coastal village located at the confluence of the Periyar and Chalakudy rivers.

The village was one of the worst affected by the floods of 2018. The activities to contain future flooding are being spearheaded by a group of young people from the village. Unlike other community initiatives after the floods, the Puthenvelikkara model is based on the understanding that long-term action to combat climate change impact requires scientific base-line assessments, data gathering and generation, and monitoring at the local level.

The community roped in EQUINOCT Community Sourced Modelling Solutions, a technology start-up launched by the alumni of IIT Bombay and NIT Calicut, for technical consultations.

One of initiatives launched was the forming of a network of school students, homemakers, fishers,Ñ and youth for monitoring rainfall and groundwater levels to build a community-sourced early warning system for floods and droughts.

A flood and inundation mapping of the village is under way based on a topographic survey of the locality to generate a community-based disaster management plan. A benchmark survey was undertaken prior to the flood mapping. The historical benchmark of elevation flagged during the Great Indian Trigonometric Survey of 1802 was found to be at the Cheraman Juma Masjid at Kodungallur. The benchmark elevation was then surveyed back to Puthenvelikkara to form the basis of the flood mapping exercise.

Students from nearby colleges have been involved in many of the activities through public engagement and consultation. A flood impact survey was also conducted to assess the region’s vulnerability with the help of NSS volunteers of St. Xavier’s College, Aluva. The flood mapping is being carried out by the civil engineering students of SNM Institute of Management and Technology, North Paravur, as part of their final semester projects.

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