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  • 08.10.21 - Kuttanad under Water - Since the flood in August 2018, 180 people have been vegetating in a cesspool.

Kuttanad submerged in wastewater

Since the flood in August 2018, 180 people are vegetating in a cloaca.

Gokul Gopinath

A mixture of rubbish, polluted river water and carcasses have been around since the flood of August 2018. During the floods, the sidewalks became small waterways, and houses were up to half a meter underwater. This has led to the spread of diseases as drinking water pipes are contaminated.

Transport links were disrupted so accessing rural areas has become more difficult. Older people find it difficult to move around so do not to go out of their homes anymore.

Around the village community in Kuttanad, like all the others in the region, a small dam wall should have been built to prevent flooding. Although the poorest were promised protection they received nothing. Local political differences have stifled sustainable solutions.

Kuttanad is an area in the southern Indian state of Kerala, in the famous backwaters south of Lake Vembanad in the district of Alappuzha. Around half of the 1157 km² area is the only region in India that is below sea level. The lowest point at 2.20 meters below sea level is thus also the lowest point of India. Kuttanad is the granary of Kerala. Rice is cultivated in the fertile landscape, where nearly 2 million people live.

Some of many houses that are under water.

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We just wanted to get a picture of how people survived after the flood. We were able to provide them with basic food in August with donations from Europe.

We were not prepared for the situation we encountered.

It quickly became clear to us, we have to do something - only what, was the question. The situation is complicated. We debated extensively within the team, sought and found solutions with the villagers.

Detained in the house for weeks...

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Only small steps are possible, initiated and carried out by the affected locals themselves so that there are no political barriers. But people lack two things: financial resources and organizational talent.

That's exactly what we are able to give them...

Gokul, Project Lead Kuttanad

Social work is his life, art, drawing, and photography his passion! Gokul Gopinath is currently attending the Gandhigram Rural Institute in Tamilnadu and is training to become a certified social worker.

His sensitive and diplomatic nature make him the ideal candidate to lead this project. His mother tongue is Malayalam so he can communicate with the villagers in Kuttannd. As a result of his excellent command of English, a flair for organization and structured working, we receive detailed reports and regular updates of the situation.

He chose his helpers to accompany and support him on the way to Kuttanad. Incidentally, his artistic work can be found on the packaging of our incense sticks.

A simple and permanent solution

1. Construction of two small dams

Most of the houses already have stable water barriers, but only two specific ones allow the water to penetrate. In these places, a small, about 2 meters wide dam of stones and clay is built by the village community (red marked in the graphic). The dams have to be serviced and renewed every year, since the material is removed by water. Implementation with concrete must be waived for legal reasons. They only have until June / July to construct the barriers before the rainy season.

2. Water pump and pipe

The long-term main solution is an electric mobile water pump, with the help of which the stagnant water can be extracted from the areas. The area will certainly be flooded again. Regardless of dam construction or any unforeseen new problems, the pump can be used again at any time. The pump, hose and tools are obtained from a specialist in the nearest town, Alaphuza, so that services can be provided in a nearby location. Since the affected area is not connected to a road, it is transported by 4-5 men by wooden boat and carry.

Cost and Expenses

Total estimated expenses

$ 2'890

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