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Cyclone resistant causeway across the Buckingham Canal – Safeguarding peoples’ mobility and livelihoods in the village of Ramudupalli Palem, India

Multiple Authors

Causeway to access the seaside in Ramudupalli Palem

Only the Buckingham Canal separates the village of Ramudupalli Palem in Andhra Pradesh from the coast of the Bay of Bengal, which is 1 km away. The people in the village as well as those in the neighbouring village of Srirampuram traditionally rely on fishing to sustain a living. Particularly during rainy season and extreme weather events, the heavy water flow in the Buckingham Canal made it impossible for people to get to the seafront. With their safety at risk, it was not only impossible for them to reach their fishing equipment and boats and go to sea to catch fish. The fisherwomen were also not able to prepare the fish caught to bring it to the market. Overall, the villagers lost up to 75 working days per a year as they could not cross the deep canal to reach the sea or transport the fish to the market. The loss of income endangered their livelihoods. These were further challenged as storms had gotten worse over the years, occurring even during the dry season. Nets and boats were often washed out to sea during cyclones. Villagers faced unforeseeable investments and debts, putting their fragile livelihoods even more at risk.

Supported by the EU-financed AdaptCap project, the community built a sturdy and safe causeway over the canal to facilitate a year-round access to the seafront. Large pipes allow the canal water to flow through them freely. The road is surfaced with reinforced cement concrete to match level with the rest of the road to the sea. Sand is deposited to provide a foundation under the large pipes, fixed by a 0.3 m gravel layer. A metal layer on top provides the foundation for the road. The causeway is shared with the fisher people from the neighbouring community Srirampuram. The villagers in turn also benefit from a concrete reinforced shed, an adaptation measure that was implemented by the neighbouring village Srirampuram. This shed built behind the sand dunes along the road from the village to the beach provides a climate-proof storage facility for motors, nets and other equipment required by the fishers. The shed is constructed in height and dimensions so that it can be used to dry fish. Key benefits of the measure in Ramudupalli Palem are:

  • Ensure year-round mobility: During rainy season the Buckingham Canal was too high to cross for up to 75 days (out of 100 days of heavy rains), so the village’s fisher folk could not reach their boats and fishing equipment. Now the villagers can always cross the canal via the causeway and can work for an additional 75 days.
  • Secure annual income per family: With an average daily earning of Rs.150 for a fisher folk family, the construction of the causeway creates an additional income of Rs.11,250 per year for each family (75 days x Rs.150). With an improved transport access to the shore, the costs of operation are also reduced.

Implementation costs

The overall costs of this adaptation measure – including a local vulnerability and needs assessment, capacity building measures in the community, technical support as well as material and labour costs – amounted to Rs. 725,836. Of these, Rs. 625,836 were borne by AdaptCap while the community contributed Rs. 100,000.

Operation & maintenance of the system

In order to remain operative in the long run, several parts of the system require regular operation and maintenance (O&M). Regular O&M activities include:

  • Cleaning of pipes
  • Repair and maintenance of road
  • Repair and maintenance of guide posts
  • Checking of sand and gravel layers underneath the pipes

The community has distributed the responsibilities and time frames for O&M activities among their members. The average monthly O&M costs amount to Rs. 1,000 and are fully covered by the community. The Village Development Committee collects the fee from the users of the causeway on an yearly basis and uses it to undertake the necessary O&M works. The annual user fee per family is Rs. 50 in the first year and Rs. 100 from the second year onwards.

M&E of activities and benefits

A monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system was developed to regularly screen and assess the adaptation project’s sustainability and impact. Information is collected in four areas:

  • Effectively achieved vulnerability reduction
  • Acceptance by and technical feasibility for the community
  • Cost for implementation and regular O&M
  • Positive and negative side effects (i.e., environmental, social, economic)

Challenges and lessons learnt

  • Ensure a strong buy-in by the community and local authorities for the measure to achieve efficient and sustainable implementation.
  • Community participation should be ensured throughout all phases of such an initiative.
  • Be aware of extreme weather events during monsoon season while drawing up the time schedule to construct the adaptation measure and calculate spare time. The construction of the causeway could only start, when the water in the canal had receded below 2 feet from the usual level of 3 feet.
  • The community asked the contractor to provide employment opportunities for the local skilled labour to support the construction work. Not only does engaging local labour support the community, it also increases ownership of the adaptation measures.

Project background and partners

The project “AdaptCap – Strengthening Adaptation Capacities and Minimizing Risks of Vulnerable Coastal Communities in India” financed by the European Commission has set out to strengthen the adaptation capacities of vulnerable coastal communities in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu (India) and minimize their climate change-related risks using an integrated approach.

The three-year initiative is implemented by the Indo-German Environment Partnership Programme of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ-IGEP) in partnership with four Indian and international partners.

GIZ-IGEP is responsible for the overall implementation and project management.

Academy of Gandhian Studies (AGS) supports the stakeholders in three cities and nine villages in Andhra Pradesh as a local partner, providing training and implementation support in assessing adaptation needs and developing and carrying out adaptation measures.

AVVAI Village Welfare Society (AVVAI) fulfills the same role in Tamil Nadu.

adelphi contributed to developing technology solutions for the pilot projects and M&E frameworks, designing and implementing capacity building programmes and providing technical support for pilot project implementation.

ICLEI South Asia led the implementation of activities in the six urban areas targeted by AdaptCap.

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