Destroyed houses, ravaging waters, demolished roads, fearful people, flooded farmlands and frustrated farmers are the dangers of the Rioni river of West Georgia.
The Rioni river serves as the main river of West Georgia and transforms nearby cities into areas vulnerable to frequent natural disasters.
Unfortunately, these surrounding areas are some of the first to experience the impacts of climate change in Georgia.
“Around 5 o’clock in the evening, the water hit the river banks. It was just like a horror movie. We were running away and the water was chasing us. We barely managed to escape,” recalls Manija Kardava, a victim of a savage flood raiding her city nearby Rioni.
A local farmer in the Georgian village of Sajavakho, said, “Our village used to flood every year. Water would flush out our backyards and would take away our land.”
Fortunately, four years ago, the Adaptation Fund and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) collaborated with the Georgian Government. They established modern approaches to environmental management. In addition, the cooperation introduced adaptation measures and economic practices to withstand climate change and its consequences.
Specifically, the collaboration targeted flood management by initiating new developments. This included building resilient defense structures in vulnerable zones and increasing plantation for soil drainage. Moreover, farmers were taught agroforestry to reinforce their river banks.
Additionally, the organization provided equipment for monitoring water levels and for alerting residents of possible floods.
The Head of UNDP in Georgia, Neils Scott commented, “We address climate change by protecting a shoreline, reinforcing river banks, and introducing new technology to monitor water levels.”
The changes and adaptive measures introduced produced positive results. This is evident from the construction opportunities surfacing in the previously flooded areas of Sajakhavo due to a newly constructed dam.
“Now we have a solid flood defense structure. Therefore, we don’t need to check the water level when it rains. We feel safe,” said Kardava.
As a result, the success of the 2016 project has encouraged authorities to expand the developments into other regions of Georgia prone to floods and other natural disasters.
By: Maria Bakh