bechtel.org’s latest project focuses on reducing flood risk in a polluted waterway, improving the quality of life for low-income households in the Indian state of Kerala.
Photo courtesy of ICLEI.
Addressing the challenge at hand
In the port city of Kochi, the natural transport infrastructure system, created by the crisscross of canals and rivers, has served as a source of socio-economic development supporting irrigation, fishing, transportation, and tourism. However, due to the frequent and extreme flooding along with urbanization and pollution, the canals have become contaminated, causing health risks to those who use the canals for bathing, fishing, and cooking. Climate change increases the need for sustainable alternatives to the Kochi government’s business-as-usual concrete improvements on the canal system.
Uniting nature and engineering to create enduring solutions
Partnering with ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability South Asia (ICLEI South Asia), global insurance provider Swiss Re’s Public Sector Solutions, and the Swiss Re Foundation, bechtel.org will evaluate and develop a green-grey infrastructure concept to pilot alongside Kochi’s canal restoration efforts. The concept will explore the use of sustainable enhancements along the canal including planting mangroves, wetland construction, and use of porous surfaces for the canal walls combined with strategically placed breakwaters, permeable fencing, and dikes.
“We’re excited to partner with ICLEI South Asia and Swiss Re. We believe this holistic approach using biodiversity science, engineering, risk management, and relevant experiences can make green-grey infrastructure a scalable, repeatable, and resilient solution for Fort Kochi’s canals and other locations,” said Tam Nguyen, bechtel.org’s general manager.
“ICLEI South Asia has been working with Kochi Municipal Corporation on issues related to sustainable urban development for over a decade. Floods are a major challenge faced by the city. We are happy to partner with bechtel.org and Swiss Re to initiate the work on integrating nature-based solutions and grey infrastructure to restore canals. This will help to build long- term flood resilience in the city,” said Emani Kumar, executive director for ICLEI South Asia.
Strong partnerships and scalable solutions
Supporting the Kochi municipal government, ICLEI South Asia and bechtel.org will perform the front-end work on one of the canals to design the infrastructure approach and help educate affected communities and local stakeholders about the pilot project’s impact.
The project aims to integrate and scale the adoption of nature-based solutions with civil infrastructure to bolster flood resilience and generate sustainable livelihoods for long-term economic development.
As a social enterprise, bechtel.org was established to deliver Impact Infrastructure tied to the wellbeing of people in vulnerable communities. Our team works closely with local agencies and experts, and draws upon Bechtel Corporation’s global engineering, construction, and project management experience, to identify and develop projects that make a social impact. We share data and lessons learned to maximize the benefits and help the developing world build better and grow stronger.