- Floods are the most frequent among all natural disasters, causing widespread devastation, economic damages and loss of human lives.
- The East Asia and Pacific region is particularly vulnerable: In the past 30 years, the number of floods in Asia amounted to about 40% of the total worldwide.
- Urban flooding is becoming increasingly costly and difficult to manage as low- and middle income countries in the region transition to largely urban societies, with a greater concentration of people and assets in urban centers.
- In addition to direct economic damage, floods have long-term consequences such as loss of education opportunities, disease and reduced nutrition which may erode development goals.
- Rapid urbanization creates poorer neighborhoods which lack adequate housing, infrastructure and services, making the poor more vulnerable to floods, especially women and children.
- The most effective way to manage flood risk is to take an integrated approach which combines structural and non-structural measures.
- This includes:
- Building drainage channels and floodways;
- Incorporating “urban greening” such as wetlands and environmental buffers;
- Creating flood warning systems; and
- Land use planning for flood avoidance.
- The key is getting the balance right, because current risks may change in the future as the effects of urbanization and climate change accelerate, requiring flexible solutions.
- Various aspects of the impact of these measures need to be considered, including environmental degradation, biodiversity, equity, social capital and other potential trade-offs.
- Successful flood risk management requires robust decision making, with greater coordination between different levels of government, public sector agencies, civil society, educational and private sectors among others.
- Tools such as flood hazard maps as well as simulation and visualization techniques can help decision makers better understand flood risk and its hazards, predict outcomes and assess costs.
- Communications also plays a significant role in raising awareness and reinforcing preparedness. The guidebook warns that less severe disasters can be forgotten in less than three years.
- As flood risk cannot be eliminated entirely, planning for a speedy recovery is also necessary, using reconstruction as an opportunity to build safer and stronger communities which have the capacity to withstand flooding better in the future.
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