Assam is the most severely flood and erosion affected state in India, accounting for 9.4% of the total flood prone area of the country. In Assam, damage due to floods has been caused by two river systems –the Brahmaputra and the Barak. In the subproject areas (Dibrugarh, Palashbari-Gumi, Kaziranga), flood and river bank erosion has been a chronic problem causing enormous damage to lives, crops, livestock, land and properties. These impacts cause massive displacement of people, increasing landlessness, and divert scarce local government resources from development activities to relief operations. While the major floods that occurred were in 1954, 1962, 1966, 1972, 1977, 1984, 1988, 1998, 2002 and 2004, floods of lesser magnitude occur almost every year in the State. As a result, the State has not been able to achieve the desired progress and prosperity, in spite of having vast natural resources. The people in the subproject areas have lost land and lives due to floods and river bank erosion, which has become an annual phenomenon. In many cases, entire villages have shifted and relocated from their original habitats as their land has been eroded away.
Dykes or embankments have been erected throughout Assam along the riverbanks to protect people and assets from flood. Such embankments are used by riverbank erosion and flood victims alike, as their raised platform provides for a better shelter than living on the floodplain. Entire families and villages in need of land have built their houses on existing or retired embankments. Many of these families, especially in Dibrugarh, are living on the river side of the embankment rendering them even more vulnerable. Given that it would be a bigger and costlier exercise to resettle these people, certain facilities such as basic drinking water supply, sanitation facilities and in some instances, electricity were supported by the Government.
This project, funded by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR), is linked to the ADB-financed Assam Integrated Flood and Riverbank Erosion Risk Management Investment Program, which ensures a combination of hard (embankments and river revetments, plus adaptive river training technology) and soft (capacity building, community flood risk management) interventions to decrease the risk of flood damage. The JFPR project includes activities, largely implemented by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and training institutions, which target landless people or people who have lost a majority of their productive assets due to river bank erosion and flooding in the three project areas of Palasbari, Kaziranga and Dibrugarh. These are extremely poor and vulnerable households living a hand to mouth existence. Since these communities reside in the vulnerable river-side location, they are generally deprived of developmental activities sponsored by government. This JFPR project seeks to include these vulnerable sections of the population in the developmental process and improve their livelihood skills and ability to save through meaningful needs-based interventions for sustainable economic and social livelihood improvement.
The project consists of the following components:
There is also a provision for the management, monitoring and capacity development of the implementing agencies for 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 above.