Saturday, 16 November 2013

Vetiver to arrest flash floods in Bangladesh

Warsaw, November 17: For all these years Bangladeshi farmers only depended on concrete walls to protect them flash floods. But from now on, ‘Vetiver’ would arrest the floods and bring smiles on their faces. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will introduce our Vetiver in Bangladesh to tackle soil erosion in hilly areas.

The IFAD would invest US $ 15,000,000 under the livelihood protection project that also includes planting of vetiver in a big way in areas affected by flash floods. The project would be initiated as a means of protecting roads that traverse hillsides which are vulnerable and shatters the lives of thousands of people there.

In the report ‘The Economic benefits of preparing small-scale farmers for climate change’ IFAD experts said, “This deep-rooted grass variety has been found to be very effective slope protection option.” They said vetiver vegetation would be used to protect 20 earthern platforms which are instrumental for temporary paddy storage above flood waters in the villages.

IFAD targets 28 sub districts in Bangladesh which were selected on the basis of their exposure to climate risks and the prevalence of rural poverty. More than two lakh people are estimated to be benefitted by this project. They strongly believe that vetiver would be the right tool for soil sequestration and slope stabilization.

Speaking to DC over the phone from Rome, Roshan Cooke, Regional Climate and Environment Specialist for the Asia and Pacific Region said, “For several years concrete barriers were laid to protect villages from tides that sometimes raise even upto six meters. In case of Vetiver, its roots are deeper go upto 20 meters and would hold the soil intact. This grass is sturdy and would mitigate the tide action. We will plant vetiver around trees so as to break the initial impact of waves hitting the lands.”

He said that instead of spending for concrete, poor farmers could produce vetiver seedlings and use them as a cost effective measure to protect their neighbourhoods. “The government engineering department has also agreed to modify the norms to introduce vetiver to battle erosion instead of conventional cement barriers,” he said.

It can be remembered that after the recent landslide in Nilgiris in 2009, the Tamil Nadu state council for science and technology initiated a project to plant to vetiver to arrest soil erosion in the hill station. And vetiver saplings were planted on the Ooty-Kotagiri highway and the Oooty-Mettupalayam highway to bind the soil and
prevent further landslides.