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Flood Mitigation Investigation : Rayalanka Island, Machilipatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India
By Shilpa Dulipsingh, eMi² engineering intern

Rayalanka Island is a small area of land on the Krishna River Delta in Andhra Pradesh. Over the years it has experienced severe flooding during monsoons which has impacted the everyday life of the island residents. eMi² has partnered with India Partners and Orphans Faith Home to find solutions that help the island residents from having to restart their life after every flood. The major focus now is to prevent soil erosion from happening and after extensive research, the Vetiver grass was chosen.

March 2013

Back in March 2013, the first round of Vetiver grass was planted to prevent soil erosion in Rayalanka Island. On a recent field visit we were impressed to see those plants thriving and growing the way we had hoped for. Today, those plants stand over 5 feet tall and have established deep roots into the ground which helps in holding the sloped soil banks intact during heavy floods. This truly is a symbol of hope for the local farmers as the monsoon season looms.

February 2014

Vetiver is mostly known for preventing soil erosion but it has various other uses. The Vetiver grass can be used to feed the cows and also to weave baskets. During our time on the island, we were able to show a video to the locals that conveyed these other uses of Vetiver. The villagers are still skeptical about the usefulness of Vetiver but seemed pleased enough with what they saw. Our hope and prayer is that this grass will continue to give fruits and help the locals see that it has promising results.

It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade. Mark 4:31-32



Rayalanka Planting
Rayalanka Planting
Article featured in the Indian Thread, April 2013
By Graham Frank, Associate Director


Roots of Trust
By Ryan Koeniger, Associate Director
Article featured in Raveler Vol. 2

I watched station after station pass, waiting for my 1-minute opportunity to step off the train. Telegu replaced the more familiar Hindi characters and I struggled to see through the foggy window to spot the sporadic English signs with the station names. I asked a fellow passenger. He was unfamiliar with the stop listed on my ticket and thought we might have past the location some hours back. The conductor confirmed that we would reach thestation in 10 minutes. I continued to watch expectantly. Two hours later we arrived.

Train Station

I was meeting with a Vetiver grass supplier who said he could provide the grass we need to prevent erosion at Rayalanka Island. Ten minutes into it I knew this was not the guy. He droned on about the value of essential oils derived from the Vetiver variety he supplied and how those oils could be harvested and then sold through his own channels. He told me the shorter root system of this variety of Vetiver grass would be "good enough" for erosion control. I wasn't convinced.

Children at Orphanage

An overnight train later, I found myself sleep-walking down another train platform in search of a friend and client. We proceeded to his home, an orphanage for 200+ children. During our meetings I presented the recently completed project report, by pointing out details of the design and answering questions. He had concerns about using grass for erosion control. After all, there's plenty of grass already growing in some places on the Island and it hasn't stopped the loss of villager's property during floods in the past. I shared about Vetiver grass and its unique root properties. We talked about erosion, what causes it, and how this grass could be used to control & prevent erosion at Rayalanka. He told me about the changing seasons in the area and how materials are transported during seasons of higher flows in the river. These times together, learning from each other, builds trust as we move forward.



Life in a River
By Kelly Fordice, Intern Civil Engineer
Article featured in Raveler Vol. 1

We arrived in the early morning hours, just after sunrise. Our team had endured many hours of travel to work alongside India Partners and the people of Rayalanka Island. India Partners have been working with the people of the Island, a fertile 300-acre sandbar in the Krishna river delta, for the past 12 years. They've been providing assistance for livestock, crops and homes while also sharing the word and love of Christ. Much of their material assistance, however, has been washed away by flooding during severe monsoons. Relocation off the unstable sandbar is not an option. The residents are Dalits and because they own the island – even with recurring floods – they have no wish to move. They have no other place to go. IP contacted eMi² for assistance in developing a functional map of Rayalanka Island and flood mitigation options.

Life in a River

The Island is reached by an hour's drive through several small towns and a (dry) Krishna river flood bed. Village residents were filled with excitement for this team of experts to solve the cause of all their worries – quite a responsibility to carry on our shoulders. We had to remember to rely on the Lord to guide our site investigation and let Him lead us to a feasible solution. On the island we worked on completing a rough topographical survey and geotechnical investigation. We had five days to investigate, which were restricted to only six daylight hours on the island each day for safety reasons. Though it was the start of monsoon, we only spent one day inside due to heavy rainfall – which we spent writing and assembling field data.

For many reasons it wasn't practical to totally prevent flooding. Instead, we focused on ways to mitigate flood damage and identified three key components: Erosion protection along vulnerable banks of the island, community lifestyle adaptations such as elevated homes & barns along with flood resistant crops, and finally construction of a levee to protect the village area from high water. As decisions are taken about which design option to proceed with, a second eMi2 team will visit Rayalanka Island next year to work out a detailed phase 1 plan for the flood mitigation work. We hope that life in a river will soon get easier for these people.



Growing Trust
Growing Trust
Article featured in the Indian Thread, July 2012
By Graham Frank, Associate Director


Rayalanka Island Update
Rayalanka Island
Article featured in the Indian Thread, April 2012



India Partners, Rayalanka Island

Flood Mitigation Investigation, part II

eMi² Project 8201
Late February, 2012

Contact

Graham Frank

Needs

- Project Sponsor – If you can't come, maybe you can help us operate this project on a non-profit basis with a one-time donation to Project 8201. Thanks for investing in our ministry!

Project Scope

In June 2011 our eMi² team got down from the train in Machilipatnam. This sleepy station was the last stop for our team which included several volunteers who had traveled more than 28 hours for this opportunity to serve. From Machilipatnm we traveled out to the Island of Rayalanka where more than 50 families were working the fields and living life. Many were well established with finely crafted mud and thatch homes and thatch sheds for their animals. Others told of the horrendous flood that swept their home away and left them with nothing but bare land which they were again putting to the plow. Unable to afford the cost to rebuild, they traveled each day to the Island to work these fields but retreated to homes of family for their living quarters.

The organization, India Partners, has been working with these people for many years and has asked eMi² to help with a solution to the damage caused by these recurring floods. In June 2011, the eMi² team was able to grasp the problem. The team identified areas of significant erosion, limits of flooded areas, collected valuable survey data and proposed several ideas for erosion protection and flood mitigation. In February 2012, a second eMi² team will visit the site to help install erosion protection and move forward with more detailed design of flood mitigation measures.
Learn More...

Costs

Approx. Rs. 6,000 – 8,000 (from within South Asia)
Approx. US $1,200 – 1,400 (from Europe / Asia)
Approx. US $2,200 – 2,400 (from North America)
More information on project costs

Other Project Information

eMi² Extras and Resources
Volunteer Resources



India Partners, Rayalanka Island

Flood Mitigation Investigation

eMi² Project 8194
June 30 – July 10, 2011

Contact

Graham Frank
phone: 91.983.712.0694

Needs

- Civil Engineer - conceptual design levee, sea wall or other floodwater management solutions. Consider me...
- Surveyor / Survey Technician – site survey of the land in consideration and computer processing of data (Survey volunteer may make use of Sokkia Set 3/Set 4 Total Station available from the eMi² office in India). Consider me...
- Project Sponsor – If you can't come, maybe you can help us operate this project on a non-profit basis with a one-time donation to Project 8194. Thanks for investing in our ministry!

Project Scope

India Partners (IP) is an organization that was begun in 1994 with the vision to help the people of India help themselves. IP is considered a conduit to a broad group of indigenous Christian agencies in India focused on alleviating poverty and injustice. Through these connections India Partners has come into a 12-year relationship with the people of Rayalanka Island, Andhra Pradesh which allows them the benefit of understanding the needs of these people and how they can assist.

"This island fights a reoccurring issue - flooding. The tsunami, cyclones, monsoons, and massive floods have wiped out their live stock, homes, fishing boats, crops, and takes lives on a regular basis. We have had meetings with the village elders and have asked if they will relocate. They refuse. They are untouchables, they own the land, and they have no other place to go. We are seeking professional help from a team that will come to the village, walk the island, and think through how we can engineer structures or systems that will aid in the prevention and/or protection against flooding." -India Partners
Learn More...

Costs

Approx. Rs. 6,000 – 8,000 (from within South Asia)
Approx. US $1,200 – 1,400 (from Europe / Asia)
Approx. US $2,200 – 2,400 (from North America)
More information on project costs

Other Project Information

eMi² Extras and Resources
Volunteer Resources